What We’re Made Of: Federico Heitz, Kaelis


Federico Heitz, Kaelis, has been working with supply chain partners to secure access to PPE.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Federico Heitz
CEO, Kaelis
Location: Madrid
Day 31 of working from home
Date of writing: April 27, 2020

Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes, for more than one month now. Kaelis asked all employees to work from home one week before the government ordered the lockdown.

Where are you writing from?
My home office.

What’s your new office attire or go-to comforts at home during this time?
Business casual. Maybe a bit more casual than usual.

“We are dedicating our full resources built in the last 23 years of managing supply chains globally to the fight against COVID-19.”

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
Yes. People I know have been affected by COVID-19 and some of my friends’ parents and grandparents have passed away, unfortunately.

What news outlets are you following?
Twitter, LinkedIn, The Economist, and Spanish newspapers online.

How are you passing time?
With our #fightcovid19 project, frankly, I’m working more than ever. On the weekends, I’m spending time with the kids, indoor cycling, reading books (Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb), watching Ozark, having several video calls with family and friends and doing barbecues.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
We had a fantastic 2019. We experienced a growth of 50% in revenue and added a few new customers and contracts. Our projections for 2020 were to keep the growth rate in spite of the current situation and with the help of our #fightcovid19 project that is having excellent results.

Can you share some specific challenges your business has faced as a result of the outbreak? How did you overcome them and how can the industry learn from your experiences?
We experienced, as everybody in this industry has, requests for delivery delays and also payment delays by some customers. We have decided to cooperate with them and be flexible on finding solutions that are workable for both parties. Our company has more than 23 years of building strong supply chains all over the world, so we quickly adapted to the new scenario. We have since joined the fight against COVID-19 and are now providing PPE to airlines, health organizations and anyone else who may need them.

How prepared was your company to instate remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
We had no problems as all our platforms are based in the cloud. Most of our team already worked from home from time to time before the coronavirus outbreak.

Can you give an example of generosity or kindness displayed by your company or one of your colleagues during this crisis?
We used our supply chain capabilities to procure 20,000 blankets to donate to the Red Cross, the Order of Saint Lazarus, several hospitals, field hospitals and homeless shelters in Spain and Madrid’s General Directorate of Emergencies and Civil Protection. The current scenario has also given us the opportunity to join forces with Neurored, S4G Consulting, several logistics partners and global payment network Veem to offer a Salesforce-based secure and encrypted online platform where corporations, NGOs, healthcare and government institutions can place, pay for and track orders of PPE.

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
We are currently dedicating our full resources built in the last 23 years of managing supply chains globally to the fight against COVID-19 by offering PPE products such as masks, goggles, gloves, sanitizing gels and wipes, and other protective gear. Kaelis has also designed the Self-Protective Pocket Pouch (SP.3), which contains PPE essentials and can be customized with additional items.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
We are aware that new rules and regulations will apply for all of travel industry.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.