young people today as prepared as those in your day?
No, young people today, firstly, have no spirit of sacrifice. We are not
going to make out that today’s young people make a lot of sacrifices, work long
hours, if necessary, and leave the weekends to work. It takes a lot more today.
Maybe they have different training. My training, even academic, was all done
Rangel started with three people...
And today we are 1600.
were a revolutionary man, a pioneer in establishing a connection via x25
communication, transferring data between customs and your office. Was this
already happening in other countries?
Yes. Exactly. The first time I saw the computerisation of customs
procedures, with computerised declarations and dispatches was in France, with a
program that the French had launched, which was very interesting for the time.
I saw that one; I spent eight to ten days in France to see how it worked. I
thought: why not have this in Portugal? In Portugal we were using typewriters,
it was the tool used in the 1980s to make customs declarations. So I challenged
a young man, who worked at a computer company, to come and do the project with
made you believe in a new project?
If you don’t believe in things like this it’s better to close down.
Companies can’t stand still, so I was always looking for new challenges and I
believed in this one, since I had the notion that it was a service, that it had
a market. I’m not mad enough to get involved in things that have no future,
either. The pharmaceutical industry is a phenomenon for us, because that was
how we started, from one day to the next.
an area that requires different treatment...
After eight years we are market leader in Portugal. So why do these
things happen? Because we have to start with very professing challenges, very
difficult challenges, they can’t be easy things. The worst business I have in
the group is the business of delivering goods, door to door, distribution,
because anyone can have a van and makes deliveries. While other businesses like
logistics, stock management, pharmaceuticals, are very difficult projects to
get into. When we went to Angola, for the first time, it was hard; we were the
first to appear in Angola, to do logistics, distribution and transportation.
about the Angola challenge...
It was a curious challenge, because it was back in 2006, and there were
some expectations here about Angola. Socrates, was still prime minister, and
went to Angola, and there was a large entourage of businessmen; I was there
too. But there are a lot of people who never did anything and others who went
with the intention of doing things, like me. Our project in Angola came about
from our ambition to expand the group. Angola, at that time, was doing very
well. And, still today, we continue to make money in Angola. Of course we find
it hard to transfer foreign currency, and other more specific difficulties, but
otherwise, in terms of operation, it still works well.
did Mozambique enter your plans in 2011?
When we entered Mozambique, it did not have the same volume as Angola.
Mozambique was different; we entered, not with logistics, but only with
international and customs transport. We have a smaller organization and we have
challenges to do more.
feel more pride when you’re addressed as Sr. Rangel?
Ah yes. I do not want my image to be overshadowed by being a commander.
I am Rangel and I am much more important as Eduardo Rangel than as a commander,
because the title of commander is recognition that I am grateful for, and was
given to me by Cavaco Silva, but it is a recognition based on what I have done.
«I am much more important
as Eduardo Rangel than as a commander»
the president of the group, how much of its success is down to you?
Until now, yes. It is down to me, as leader of this group, for the ideas
I have brought into the group. But also everything is done as a team. Each of
my directors, chiefs and managers has a great responsibility. I have to admit I
have very good employees.
tough to pass on the ‘baton’?
It’s not an easy thing. You always have that concern that whoever
follows you won’t be able to do it like you, of doing the same. Clearly I have
the advantage of having a child that fit the management model. He is only a
successor, not because he is my son, but because he has qualities.
look to you as the face of that company...
I am the wise man in this matter. They think: «He was there, he set this
up, so he must know better than anyone else, how to do it». So when Nuno says
something, I try not to give my opinion on the matter, even if it is important,
because that way I force Nuno to participate. I’ll still be around for three or
after these three or four years ... what are you going to do?
Travel more. I’ve travelled so much in my life, but I’ve never seen
anything. There are cities that I’ve been to, I went in through one door and I
left by another. I wish I had seen them.
going to take those trips again, but in another spirit?
Not when working. Although I can’t help myself. A few days ago I went on
a trip thinking, «I'm not going to work!», but then I got to a city in the
United States and said: «I had an agent here, let’s see if he’s still around!»
And I was able to get hold of him and arrange a lunch. There’s always this bug,
but I’m going to try to rest a bit after this, and write.
I like to write. I’ve already published a book, when I had time to
already written a book: A Legislação Europeia e a Legislação
Legislation and National Legislation].
It was because of integration, at the time, in Europe. It was a book
that for years was a bible at customs. There were officials, critics,
controversy and friction, because no one accepted that I was the brains behind
has changed in the laws of this time to those now?
Sometimes I even get discouraged, because I think there are so many
things that aren’t legislated! I still think that Europe has got to a major
crossroads and, in my view, of the releasing of goods, processes, etc., because
it created the common customs code, which is the common legislation for all
European countries. And countries are not all the same. While in Germany a
customs official has a diploma, he analyses things across the board and knows
how to distinguish what is important from what is not, sometimes in Portugal,
in Spain, they take it to the line, do not leave the site, because the same law
for a German does not fit for a Portuguese. They are trying to maintain the customs union without leaving Europe,
why? Because, in fact, customs, I don’t mean all of them, have many employees
who are practical, objective, and others who are not. Even the laws made today
are worse than the ones I read in 1980.
and politics aside, what does Eduardo Rangel do in his free time?
Now I have a lot to keep me busy. Right now I have three grandchildren
and I enjoy being with them one day a week. It’s one of my amusements.
Afterwards, I deal with work concerns, and they cause me to have to read
dossiers, in large numbers. Also I go for walks around here; this area is very
pretty (Foz do Porto). I go out with my friends; other times I go walking.
never decline an invitation? Only if you really can’t go?
No. I rarely say no to an invitation.
I really like to socialise. I feel good.