Harvest Blessings and Bountiful Thanks ~ A message from the CEO

Fall is here in the Northern Hemisphere, employees across the logistics divisions of the Prime Group are working 24-7 shipping and handling for harvested agricultural products now heading to their retail and wholesale destinations.

Just-picked grapes are transiting to wine production, fruits are in transport to markets and restaurants customers. Plantains and olives are moving to food manufacturing plants, where, presto, they’ll soon be transformed into snack foods and olive oil.  Glass containers, cardboard, and other materials critical in manufacturing are also on the move, under the watchful eye of Prime Group’s dedicated teams of logistics experts around the world.

Whatever the journey, I’m proud of all our employees who are staying on top of the process in every way. You are to be commended for keeping the global pipeline of fresh products flowing to market or production on time and on budget.

Traditional Celebrations Worldwide
Also, as fall is in full swing, I’d like to recognize a few of the many annual events, both secular or religious – and the diverse traditions taking place across the globe in celebration of the bountiful harvest season.

Just weeks ago, for instance, some employees and customers in the United Kingdom and other northern countries participate in Lammas (“loaf mass”) Day to recognize the start of the grain harvesting season. They bake Lammas bread, make corn dollies and put on large feasts with loved ones. Following that, the annual Harvest Festival typically marks the end of the annual growing season in September.

In Canada, the annual Thanksgiving Day was observed on the second Monday of October. Residents – as their ancestors have done over the centuries – give thanks for the harvest and their god’s blessings for the bounty. In the modern era, the Canadian Parliament officially deemed the day a national holiday in 1957.

Just concluded in Israel, the annual Sukkot is a high holy week and celebration of bountiful harvests. In one tradition, residents hold and shake four species of plants – palm, myrtle, willow, and citron. In another, some eat and/or sleep for a week in small temporary huts with a roof open to the sky; that pays homage to Israelites of the past who wandered within the desert for decades and lived in temporary shelters.

In Magione, Italy, over a two-day period in November, the fall Olivagando festival focuses on “la dolce goccia” or the “sweet drop” of high-quality olive oil. Unfolding in the nation’s Umbria region, it’s celebrated in concert with the feast of St. Clement.

Across the globe, Korean families come together to celebrate the three-day Chuseok harvest festival on the 15th day of the lunar calendar’s eighth month. It’s a time for families to share meals and talk about their ancestors.

Within the United States, I know that many of our employees and customers are looking forward to Thanksgiving Day later this month – officially November 24. While President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, the first Thanksgiving celebration took place far earlier. In fall 1621, Pilgrim colonists in Plymouth, Mass., celebrated a successful wheat crop and shared a meal of partridge, wild turkey, and fish with Indigenous Americans.

Southern Hemisphere Celebrations
Of course, in the Southern Hemisphere, harvest comes at a different time of the year. In Mendoza, Argentina, events in the first quarter of the year celebrate the grape harvest, honor centuries of traditions and feature a modern-day wine festival that began in 1936.

In Bali, Indonesia, every May and June, a harvest festival honors the Hindu rice god, Dewi Sri. During this time, farmers place temples to the god in their rice paddies and make offerings of rice-stalk dolls.

Many other countries including India, Swaziland, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines also celebrate harvest season. We appreciate all the traditions and, as we navigate out of the pandemic, it’s an opportune time right now, regardless of where you live, to give thanks for a robust harvest and our many blessings.

I’d also like to again thank the employees representing all the Prime Group companies for their dedication throughout the year in serving our clients. In addition, to our valued clients, I extend heart-felt gratitude for entrusting us with your business. The harvest season signals a hefty ramp-up for our Prime Group divisions as we work to ship your agricultural products and a cornucopia of other goods around the world – on time and on budget. We’re striving to do our best for you as we all navigate through recent global challenges including supply chain issues.

Most of all, wherever you are across the globe, we give thanks for you and wish you a bountiful, happy, and healthy year ahead.

~ Roger Paredes

TCS: Time Critical Solutions, Your “Hand-Carry” Resource for Fast Shipping by Air

In evaluating shipping challenges in 2022 including the ebb and flow of the supply chain, PrimeAir is constantly evaluating how to assist its customers in doing business more efficiently. That’s why I am excited to share with you that we have launched a new onboard courier service – a ‘hand-carry’ resource – to assist local freight forwarders in Colombia and Ecuador.

This premium business service will help freight forwarders get their time-critical shipments where they need to go quickly and with a personal touch – quite literally. While this onboard courier (OBC) service is a commonly used option in Europe and the U.S., it’s a fairly new concept for some small and mid-sized freight forwarders in other parts of the globe including many regions of South America.

What’s making this possible is an agreement we entered earlier this year with Time Critical Solutions Worldwide (TSC Worldwide), a privately owned, independent Dutch company, based at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. So, we are now offering freight forwarders the onboard courier or “hand carry” services to/from Colombia and Ecuador.

Typically, automotive, transportation, pharmaceutical, oil, and manufacturing businesses may – from time to time – face a broken machine that will cause major production delays at a very high cost. Getting the right spare part to where it needs to go is critical.

PrimeAir, which can now tap into “ready to go” couriers in the U.S., the Netherlands, China, and elsewhere, expects the hand-carry option to be useful for transporting all kinds of spare parts, medical samples and other items into and out of both Colombia and Ecuador.

It doesn’t matter if the final client is an importer or exporter, the onboard courier service will solve the problem in the fastest way possible. It’s important to look at the “big picture” when considering the typically higher cost of the hand-carry service, versus normal shipping options.

Bottom line? We believe this new onboard courier service may be the most cost-effective option for freight forwarders to suggest to their clients in certain circumstances. For example, when the spare part being shipped is desperately needed to fix manufacturing machinery, the time saved in the end – by getting production back up more quickly – will more than make up for the onboard courier service price.

Or, when an airplane is parked on the ground day after day because it needs repairs, that’s a financial drain too. It’s not always about shipping an entire engine – sometimes, it’s about just one specific small component that can fit inside a suitcase, to travel speedily with a logistics courier service, thus getting the plane back in the air quicker.

At times, the decision to use a hand-carry service is also about more than cost. It’s about the value of human life. In a medical setting, if a highly sophisticated MRI unit goes down because it needs a key component replacement, that could impede a prompt life-saving medical diagnosis. Quicker transport via an onboard courier service could get the MRI back in service to help save lives.

In general, with the new service, PrimeAir – using TSC Worldwide’s courier – accepts carry-on, checked in and excess baggage including DGR (dangerous goods) and temperature-controlled items in accordance with airline guidelines.

Our PrimeAir team on the ground is always available to talk with any freight forwarders about this new logistics courier service and how it could help your business. In essence, PrimeAir is TCS Worldwide’s agent on the ground in Ecuador and Colombia, with a liaison office in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Again, the goal, is to provide more options for freight forwarders – helping them to serve their clients during the ebb and flow of 2022 and beyond. For more information or to set up a shipment, contact us via email at ecuador@tcs-worldwide.com or colombia@tcs-worldwide.com.

Roger Paredes

CEO Prime Group

Happy Mother’s Day Proudly Delivering the Flowers and Plants that Honor our Moms

With an estimated $2.6 billion spent in 2021 alone, Mother’s Day in the U.S. absolutely “rules” as the top occasion each year for floral spending here. In fact, the volume of gifts of fresh flowers and plants purchased for Mother’s Day even exceeds what’s spent on floral and fresh plant purchases for Valentine’s Day.

This year, Mother’s Day in the U.S. will be celebrated on Sunday, May 8. It’s certainly a fabulous way for spouses to honor their wives who are moms, and for grateful sons and daughters to say thanks to their moms, grandmothers, and great grandmas.

Personally, I also believe it’s a wonderful opportunity to recognize “other moms” – special women who may have influenced our lives in positive, supportive ways. So, this Mother’s Day, why not honor a favorite mentor who’s also a mom or perhaps a special family friend, mother-in-law, teacher, parent’s spouse, or other special person.

 

Saying it with Flowers

 Everyone knows that flowers are a perfect way to show love and appreciation – certainly all our busy customers do! Research gleaned from the Society of American Florists’ website shows that 65 percent of Americans “feel special” when receiving flowers. In addition, 60 percent believe a gift of flowers has a special meaning unlike any other gift, and 77 percent perceive those who give flowers to be “thoughtful.”

Most notably, 92 percent of women say the best reason to receive flowers is “just because.” In addition, it’s just as good to give as to receive, as 80 percent of Americans say receiving flowers makes them feel happy, while 88 percent say the act of giving flowers makes them happy.

 

Expressing My Appreciation

 What all this means to those of us supporting the fresh-cut flower industry, including the employees of the Prime Group of companies, is that it is one of our busiest times of year. I’m deeply appreciative of all our skilled, professional logistics and perishables experts for their care in handling the entire perishables shipping and transport process for our customers – forwarders, retailers, wholesalers, and the like.

Their important role in this highly specialized cold supply chain starts with arranging for the bulk fresh-cut flower shipments to be picked up by refrigerated trucks from producers in Ecuador and Colombia and swiftly transporting the blooms and plants all the way from the airport of export to U.S. markets, coast to coast. There are myriad steps in between, as you might imagine, but suffice to say our Prime Group people know precisely what they’re doing – as we’ve been in the fresh-flower and perishables business for more than 20 years. We also transfer many flowers into and out of at Amsterdam, our major European gateway for floral shipments and other commodities. So we’ve pretty much got the world covered.

Business aside, though, I’d like to wish all our valued customers and employees a wonderful Mother’s Day. And if you’re a mom, thank you for all you do, day in and day out. You inspire, you motivate, you bring out the best in us – and help mold the next great generation.

Wishing my own mom and yours too, a very “Happy Mother’s Day.”

 

~ Roger Paredes, CEO

Spring Brings Rebirth and Remembrance

Flowers blooming in spring symbolize a rebirth and, for so many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the end of dreary wintertime. Across the globe, cultures celebrate in different ways. In the Netherlands, tens of thousands line up to watch the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek, a famous – and lengthy – floral spectacle and parade. Traveling between Noordwijk and Haarlem during April 20-24, 2022, the parade will feature elaborate floats constructed with tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.

In Japan, the country’s cherry blossoms annually are the focus of an internationally known spring festival, Hanami, unfolding between late March and early May. Japanese residents host parties under the cherry trees, a centuries-old tradition. In Washington, D.C., too, these blooms as well as the friendship between the U.S. and Japan are celebrated during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, thus year slated for March 20 to April 17. 

Busy Floral Season

Late winter and spring is certainly Prime Group’s busiest business period as fresh flowers and plants make the perfect gift. On a daily basis, we’re handling and transporting over 200,000 kilos of fresh flowers between destinations within Latin America, Europe, Asia, and North America.

But whether it be now or throughout the entire year, I’m proud of the employees of Prime Air, Prime Fresh Handling, Prime Logistics, and for that matter, our snack food division Prime Planet. I commend them for working diligently day after day to assure our clients’ shipments make it from Point A to Point B on time and arrive fresh and ready for sale.

Religious Observances

Separately, I’d also like to acknowledge that spring is the time of year when the members of our multinational team with differing religious backgrounds observe sacred occasions, holy events, and rituals – many of which are rooted in ancient times. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the diversity of our workforce and our strong belief in inclusivity as they join with our clients around the world in observing these or other holy occasions this spring.

  • Passover: The Jewish Passover 2022, also called Pesach in Hebrew, will begin the evening of April 15, during the Hebrew month of Nisan, and end on April 23 at nightfall. This major Jewish holiday celebrates God’s liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
  • Ramadan: As the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan is observed by Muslims across the globe via a month of fasting, reflection, and prayer. In 2022, it will begin on April 2 and end May 1. Commemorating Muhammad’s first revelation, this annual celebration is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • Easter: On April 17, 2022 – Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as described in the Bible’s New Testament. That occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary (in modern day Israel) in 30 A.D.

Spring Symbolizes Rebirth

While spring often brings a plethora of floral gift giving – often fresh tulips, roses, hyacinths, and lilies, as well as other flowers – whatever the occasion or celebration, whatever the religious observation, one fact emerges: Spring is an important time of rebirth.

Simply put, the advent of spring reminds us that we can begin anew, try a new path, and reenergize ourselves for a greater good. We wish that for all people across the globe in 2022.

~ Roger Paredes, Prime Group CEO

A Message from the CEO: Prime Group Proudly Celebrates Women’s History Month

During the month of March, please join us as the Prime Group gives some well-deserved attention to all of the amazing accomplishments of strong, determined women. Since 1987, the United States has formally recognized March as National Women’s History Month. Every woman has a story to tell and gifts to share with the world. So get ready, because this month is about honoring magnificent ladies, and we are ready to celebrate it to the fullest.

A Rich and Proud History

Women’s History Month heralds the often-overlooked contributions of women in history, society, and culture. It has been annually observed in the U.S. and other countries, including the U.K. and Australia, every March since 1987. The month is observed in October in Canada. March is selected as the month for observing Women’s History Month to correspond with International Women’s Day on March 8, and Canada observes it in October in correspondence with Persons Day on October 18.

The month-long commemoration started with Women’s History Day in 1978, organized by the school district of Sonoma, Calif. Hundreds of students participated in the essay competitions, many presentations were given, and a parade was held in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The idea caught on and, a few years later, school districts, communities, and organizations all over the country were celebrating the day. In 1980, the National Women’s History Alliance championed for the holiday to be observed as a national week, and this was backed by President Jimmy Carter, who issued the first proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week.

The following year, Congress forwarded a resolution establishing a national observance. Six years later, the expansion of the event to the whole month of March was successfully petitioned by the National Women’s History Project.

International Women’s Day

I also want to call attention to International Women’s Day 2022 and its campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

~ CEO Roger Paredes

Message from the CEO: Employee Motivation Can Also Come From Within

These are interesting times, to say the least. The increasing demand for service excellence in an ever-changing environment defined by a seemingly never-ending pandemic requires constant communication with customers — often to only diffuse their angst! And this is just one of myriad challenges facing logistics professionals every day, up and down the global supply chain. The pressures placed upon our industry’s workers to put their best face forward, while at the same time trying to manage heightened degrees of personal and organizational stress are extreme – and unrelenting.

To be sure, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to maintain positivity and motivation in the COVID-era workplace. This is especially true for those of us serving the worldwide perishables market, as we are now just entering the year’s most hyper-intense period of activity: Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day, and Mother’s Day. This historically busiest time for shipping and handling fresh-cut flowers, is now happening concurrently with busiest time in the history of the industry.

Pressure to Perform

In an earlier message, I discussed how the pressure to perform on the job, and the feeling among workers that they’ve always got to “be there” for the team, can become counterproductive and troubling on multiple levels. At that time, I outlined tools that can be used to make their daily work experience more satisfying – and hopefully help mitigate employee burnout.

Certainly, setting and achieving short-term targets is one of the tried-and-true methods by which employees can preempt a stress overload in the workplace. But there exist multiple other ways, some as simple as paying heed to basic time-management skills, indulging in both physical exercise and relaxation techniques, and even engaging in light banter and laughs around the water cooler. These tools combined can help minimize stress while maintaining healthy levels of performance and productivity, creativity, and innovativeness.

Still, for those of us holding leadership roles within the global logistics industry, it’s important to recognize that even the most diligent workers can and will face challenges in managing stress. Like any emotion, these feeling simply cannot be turned off. And so, it is important that we be mindful of alternative ways to “survive” in the pandemic-era workplace – one of which is learning to thrive in the workplace by finding true motivation from the inside.

Rewards of Intrinsic Motivation

“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

Is it that easy? Well, so says Dalai Lama. Similarly, it’s a good idea to start your day not by regretting what you were not able to accomplish yesterday, but by thinking about all that you will be able to “experience” today.

I am not suggesting here envisioning a list of tasks. Granted, it’s always good to have parts of your workday standardized. Instead, what I am suggesting is, when it comes to truly growing and thriving at work and making changes to how you accomplish goals and rise to challenges throughout your day, there is another path – something called “intrinsic motivation.”

As I understand it, intrinsic motivation is fueled by the thrill of doing an activity without being drawn to external rewards. It’s doing something new for the pleasure of learning, it’s exercising for fun, it’s working with curiosity. This way, finding rewards within our day-to-day activities can actually keep us satisfied all week long. By leaning on intrinsic motivation, we tend to see work as a satisfying and fulfilling means of life, rather than a daily drudge – and this serves to effectively minimize the stressors that often come with such a mindset.

So I say finding the parts of your workday that are thought-provoking and require creativity, and then using those to energize your workflow, can make all the difference. The reward of self-determination comes each time you show up and feel that little inspiration that comes with having learned one more thing or having imaginatively solved one more problem.

In this age of transformation, find the things that foster a personal rush of satisfaction, and you may see how your workplace, attitude, and endurance can transform.

~ Roger Paredes, Prime Group CEO

A Message from the CEO…By the Light of a New Dawn

As countries around the world slowly recover from the long battle against COVID-19, I am reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. – “We are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”

And by the light of this new day, we’ve seen something quite profound happen, particularly within the global logistics industry. There has emerged a heightened sense of “community” among our peers and customers.

The notion that “we are all in this together” has given rise to the realization that only by having our own house in order can we better support each other now and over the long term. After all, the world relies on logistics professionals like you and I to aptly manage the supply chains that bring needed products to distribution centers, warehouses, and ultimately the consumer’s doorstep.

We ensure markets have food on shelves, retail outlets have ample stock, businesses get essential parts and equipment, and that hospitals and health care centers have fast access to the critical medicines and supplies that keep us alive. All eyes are on us and there is pressure to perform.

So Perform We Must

On the business side, uncertainties in worldwide logistics this past year have certainly created enormous challenges for Prime Group, but also myriad opportunities to “be there” for our customers and the industry in general. We’ve weathered the COVID-19 storm together, yet still clouds remain – in the form of pervasive interruptions along global supply chains, equipment and capacity shortages, and higher shipping costs, among other significant market pressures.

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that resiliency is how you play the long game – and not to just survive, but to thrive. Along this line, Prime Group is continually strengthening and expanding its four business units by introducing new services and products, by adding new talent in specific and measured ways, and by building up the company to ensure an overall smoother operation over the long haul.

Enhanced Communications

Bolstering relationships across all industries is also a winning strategy that will ensure success through resilience in 2022. The continued development of our marketing communications program is now paying dividends by attracting new business and by strengthening existing customer loyalties.

We will stay focused on growing the presence of each division by continually “refreshing” our digital presence in the marketplace via enhancements to our corporate web sites; and aggressive, sustained social-mail and enews campaigns. These efforts are of course geared to support the planned expansion of our global sales and marketing staff so that they may convert and nurture all the new business we are stirring.

Four Prime Companies

On the retail food side, our Prime Planet team we will continue to seek innovative and unique product lines not just in response to customer demand, but also in anticipation of their needs and desires for high quality better-for-you snacks.

On the Prime Logistics side of the house, we will continue to seek out globally recognized trade certifications for the transport of pharmaceuticals and other sensitive commodities. This is key to giving Prime Logistics the competitive edge it needs to grow.

We will cotinine to respond to the growing customer demand for charter operations through our PrimeAir division. In addition, we will focus on building up our Prime Fresh Handling service readiness at our gateway hubs – like at LAX, which emerged in 2021 as the largest and busiest field station in our entire global network.

Growing Through Technology

Overhauling software systems in-house with the latest technology and refining business processes will allow Prime Group to become even more operationally efficient and “customer centered” in 2022. We are engaging with a specialized firm at present to head up a program to unify all of our business units via one overarching system. This in turn will make way for the next natural step in the evolution of our global service excellence – artificial intelligence.

The prime objective here is to heighten the entire customer experience by providing fast and easy access to our wide-ranging service offerings, so that they can directly perform their own bookings, tracking, and more – whenever they need to, 24/7.

This will also serve to free up our Operations, Sales, and Customer Service people to focus on what they do best – expertly manage the safe, efficient, and cost-effective international shipment and handling of our clients’ commodities.

At the same time, we will be adding a news sales director for the Group and other key support staff to support the much more robust commercial structure we are building out in the coming year.

External Opportunities

Although our four companies have realized steady organic growth, in 2022 we will be adjusting course to more aggressively pursue opportunities through acquisitions that will positively impact our business growth plan in a swift and well-planned fashion.

By diversifying revenue, acquiring new customers, and expanding business among existing customers, Prime Group will be in a much stronger position to compete on the global stage – and in the process enhance the value of each company.

This “inorganic growth” will take the form of buying other businesses, opening new locations, and expanding global service lines.

For instance, in addition to the international freight services we currently offer via scheduled carriers, we are now identifying a wider range of air cargo transport options for our customers – such as going from only providing ad hoc charters to operating comprehensive and customized long-term charter programs. So stay tuned for exciting news on this front!

Doing Our Part

The year 2022 is presenting the global community with new challenges. Going forward, Prime Group will continue to proudly do its part shipping medical supplies, vaccines, and test kits internationally. We remain committed to doing more of these missions for as long the world needs us.

There is truly one thing that unites us – it is the basic human spirit that tomorrow will be a new day. And we are united in the belief that 2022 will be just that.

 

~ Roger Paredes, Prime Group CEO

CEO Message: Holiday Well Wishes – People Matter

As we head into the end-of-year holidays, the world is far different and our world more uncertain than it was just 22 months ago. Yet, during this season, it’s also an excellent time to remember that it’s the faces of life – our cherished families, good friends, helpful colleagues, and valued customers – that truly matter.

And we’re certainly all yearning for more social contact, right? In fact, according to Mintel’s summer 2021 survey about  “COVID-19’s Impact on U.S. Consumers,” 56 percent of people say the pandemic has made them want to spend more time with family, while 41 percent also want to spend more time with friends.

Why? It’s simple. These people can provide a solid foundation for our lives. They make us smile and laugh. They bring the joy of life. They help us cope with ever-changing uncertainties in both our personal and professional worlds.

This year hasn’t been easy on many fronts. From a personal perspective, we’ve seen the rise of new variants in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ve also seen that vaccination rates are climbing, booster shots are now available, and protocols are – in many cases – working to help stem the spread of the virus.

On the business side, uncertainties in logistics this past year have certainly created mind-boggling issues for the Prime Group of companies as well as our customers. Together we’ve weathered the storm, though, as we’ve worked through shortages of containers and air/ocean/truck/train shipping capacity, higher shipping costs, pervasive labor shortages, a shortage of popular manufactured goods, and a litany of other supply chain challenges.

When Life Gives You Lemons

But one of the only constants in worldwide logistics – and in life too – is the need to adapt to changing circumstances. Yes, marketplace ripples and shortages of most goods are certainly being felt by retailers and consumers alike during this traditional gift-giving period. At the end of the day, though, it’s about doing our best, packing an added dose of patience and “going with the flow.”

It’s also about celebrating and living one’s faith, as well as counting one’s blessings. If you’re able, please join me in giving back and assisting the communities in which you live and work. Even if you only have an hour or two of time to contribute, it could mean a lot. Separately, during this holiday period, help your families but also your neighbors or others who are still struggling. So many people this year have lost cherished friends or beloved family members to this terrible virus. Let’s all pull together to assist each other in weathering the storm.

Getting Down to Business

From a business perspective, I’m happy to report that all of the Prime Group business units expanded this past year with new services and new products. Successes through our major expansion of marketing communications efforts are paying off. We’ve grown the presence of each division through “refreshing” corporate Web sites. We’ve unveiled an aggressive, sustained social-mail campaign, and we’ve introduced a robust, e-news program for three divisions.

On the product side, our Prime Planet division, the hot news is we introduced a new Tostones BBQ flavor, and we’re getting ready to roll out a new product (still under wraps!). We also made packaging enhancements so our snack chips stand out better on often-crowded supermarket shelves.

Our Prime Logistics division posted the highest volume ever in company history for kilos of shipped cargo, plus it earned the World Cargo Association’s (WCA) first “Responsible Person” certification in all of North America.

Our PrimeAir division celebrated a first-ever charter flight between South America and Tokyo. Also, after months of work establishing required qualifications, that division’s Bogota station also has been awarded the “CEIV Certification for Pharmaceutical Transport” issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

And even with global logistics capacity restraints, I’m happy to report that in 2021 Prime Fresh Handling at LAX emerged as our fastest growing, largest, and busiest field station throughout our entire global network. All these steps combined across the various divisions helped make 2021 our biggest sales year ever.

Warm-felt Thanks to Our Team

Thanks to all our employees including the new team members who’ve joined us this year. Across all divisions, we increased headcount by 25 percent to accommodate our strong growth. Also, we want to thank our employees’ families too. Without their support during Prime Group’s busiest time of the year, our employee team couldn’t do what’s needed for our customers.

As the year winds down and we all get into the holiday season of gift giving, yes, we may not have the holiday season’s usual full bounty of goods and gifts to purchase. But we’ll have what matters most – the human touch. It’s a great month to give thanks for friends, families, work colleagues and customers and tell them how much they mean in your life.

Most of all, celebrate the concrete steps taken in 2021 by societies across the globe to begin controlling and preventing this challenging virus. We’re doing our part – shipping medical supplies, temperature sensitive vaccines and 50,000 COVID-19 test kits weekly. And hope to continue to do more of these missions going forward.

So, as we trim the Christmas tree, light the Hanukkah menorah, enjoy Kwanzaa, or celebrate other holiday or faith traditions, stay positive. Think good thoughts, and take time to breathe, relax, reflect, and enjoy life.

~ Roger Paredes, CEO

Thanks for Our Blessings, During a Year of Continued Challenges

A message from the CEO

As we approach this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, let’s take time to reflect and give thanks for the many blessings the year has brought us, despite the seemingly unending pandemic-era challenges. Certainly, for many of us, the biggest thing to be thankful for is the progress made on the medical front across the world in the battle against COVID-19.

It’s easy to forget that last year at this time there was no viable vaccine, in contract to today as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that nearly 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. And worldwide, 2.9 billion people are fully vaccinated. That’s fabulous progress. So, while the global fight to keep people safe still continues in earnest – and much remains to be done for sure – what a positive difference a year has meant!

On the Home Front

Here at home in Miami, we’re also thankful, of course, for our dedicated clients who were able to hunker down, pivot, adapt, and take aggressive steps over the past year to keep their goods flowing and their customers happy, even in the midst of these anything-but-normal business times. The Prime Group family also has been appreciative of their patience and ability to “go with the flow,” as together we’ve faced unprecedented logistical and operational challenges – most beyond our collective control.

In addition, I’m deeply appreciative of our employees across all four corporate divisions whose can-do attitude has helped us assist our valued clients despite global shortages in shipping containers, limited air capacity, shortages in ground handling resources, and other challenges.

I’m proud to say that even under immense pressure, our operations, sales, and support teams have all performed admirably in achieving our prime task – creating strong customer satisfaction and keeping their everyday products and essential goods flowing.

Troubling Times for Turkey Day

It’s not been an easy time, finding and securing cargo space at affordable rates, due to the ongoing supply chain disruptions – and now it’s even started impacting core grocery items for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. As a result of the lack of availability, some of our down-line customers at the retail and wholesale level are already warning of rising out-of-stock rates and higher prices on big demand items like canned pumpkin, stuffing, liquid gravy, bakery pies, and even whipped cream… Now there’s a crisis!

But the beat goes on. This year our Prime Fresh Handling employees have succeeded in shipping everything from fresh produce, fish, fresh-cut flowers, and myriad other time-sensitive perishables, to handling COVID-19 supplies, masks, antigen test kits, vaccines, and a wide range of pharmaceutical products to customers all across the globe.

Bouncing Back Better

We’re also thankful that in spite of COVID 19-era pressures put upon the logistics industry that we were able to bounce back bigger and stronger in 2021. In fact, we are actually well on our way to reporting our highest ever volume of kilos of cargo in company history. This was also our biggest year ever for sales, and as a result we’ve expanded our employee group by 25 percent, to help us serve customers better and assure we are meeting and exceeding client expectations.

Nowhere else is this success better seen than in our LAX Station. It’s actually the youngest field operation in our worldwide system, but now our fastest growing. Granted, we’re also expanding our facilities at JFK, AMS, and MIA, but Los Angeles has emerged as the year’s biggest and busiest station.

So, as you sit down to the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal – albeit with perhaps a couple side dishes missing – to enjoy a day with family, friends, and football, let’s take time to examine the year, its challenges, and successes, as well as the opportunities yet-to-be-discovered ahead.

Please stay safe – and get stuffed!

 

~ Roger Paredes, CEO

Hope Continues to Bloom

With springtime comes flowers and Easter, typically one of the largest floral holidays on the calendar – which means, this is one of the busiest times of year for the Prime Group of companies.

Traditionally, Easter Sunday and spring weddings make this one of the highest demand periods for growers, florists, flower importers, and shippers, and of course logistics companies such as Miami-based Prime Logistics, Prime Fresh Handling, and PrimeAir.

Last year, coronavirus shut down churches and restaurants – two major consumers of flowers for Easter services and brunches. Shelter-in-place orders meant fewer families could host Easter dinners at home. Spring weddings also were postponed, all severely impacting growers across the world.

But this year, hope is in the air – in the form of the new life-saving vaccines developed to help control the spread of virus that has plagued us for so long. Company names like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna now play large in the world of pharmaceutical logistics. These names have also become part of our everyday conversation, signaling an awakening from the darkest period of the pandemic and providing overwhelming sense of relief, re-emergence, and renewal.

Aren’t these the very themes of Spring itself? The season associated symbolically with dramatic changes such as rebirth, resurrection, and waking from sleep.

Turning the Corner

What a difference a year makes – in stark contrast with April 2020, when the pandemic was in full swing, international trade had altogether halted, and the entire global economy was collapsing before our eyes. Like most business in the world economy, needless to say, the cut-flower industry was very severely impacted.

Thankfully though, we’ve turned the corner, as traditional importers who sell to wholesalers who sell to retailers, supermarkets, big box retailers, online distributors, as well as to traders at the world’s largest trading site in Amsterdam – are all now enjoying the resurrection of the industry.

Of course, this also includes a resurgence of businesses at the root of the flower industry: the farms, in-country forwarders, and shippers serving the verdant regions of Colombia and Ecuador. Great news for those local economies.

Rosier Outlook

Today, global sales related to the spring-time floral business are now booming because of the weddings and other events that had been rescheduled after long delays. This upward trend is expected to continue, reaching the same economic levels as compared to late 2019.

Even rosier is the outlook for the worldwide market for flowers and ornamental plants over the next five years. It is expected to grow roughly 6.3 percent, reaching $57.4 billion USD in 2024, up from $42.4 billion USD in 2019.

While the global floral market is faring better than initially anticipated, the economy will no doubt continue to be impacted by the consequences of the pandemic. Nonetheless, consumers are thankful they are getting back to being able to brightening the day of their loved ones with flowers this spring.

“Let Hope Bloom”

In the midst of the crisis last year, the Dutch Flower Council created a social media campaign called, “Let Hope Bloom.” This uplifting message reminded consumers of the importance of flowers in their lives and in fact did lift spirits – and sales!

But for me, it also reflected the resilience of an industry that has endured unexpected turns in the economy, the environment, and a multitude of other unpredictable forces over the years.

I am confident hope will continue to bloom this year, and that the floral industry will be stronger than it ever has been as the world continues to emerge from this crisis, and well into the future.

Happy Spring – and please stay safe.

~ Roger Paredes – CEO