Prime Group Has Its Marching Orders in the Battle Against COVID-19

Every answer begins with a question. But these days, there seem to be so many questions, especially within the global logistics industry. Chief among them—are we ready with cold chain solutions to respond to the onslaught of COVID-19 vaccines once they’re ready for worldwide delivery?

At the Prime Group, the answer is yes. We are prepared.

As a company specializing in solid answers and smart solutions for its customers, we understand answers don’t always come easy, particularly in the midst of such a long-lasting “critical event” as a global pandemic.

Significant variability has always been the Achilles’ heel of the global supply chain. Natural disasters, equipment failure, civil unrest, terrorism, blight – at least we knew what the basic categories were. But a pandemic with the power to shut down the entire global economy? That one wasn’t even on the radar screen!

And now, we are facing an all new phase of this novel “variable”—the release of billions of doses of highly-sensitive vaccines and the challenges that will present for a worldwide infrastructure to support rapid distribution and deployment all across the planet.

No small task.

By focusing on what we do well and applying new strategies in operating our businesses, I am confident that we can and will succeed in providing the right answers and solutions for our customers—and the world.   

It’s been said wars are won by superior logistics more than battles. It would appear we’ve got our marching orders.

Transport

The most important element of logistics is transport—and this is where Prime Group clearly excels. Without transport, goods are unable to move from one stage to another within a supply chain. We are supremely experienced in transporting complex time- and temperature-sensitive products all over the world. And we stand ready.

Our long-time relationships with some of the world’s largest and most reliable air cargo carriers and our proven expertise in managing ad-hoc cargo charter operations positions us well to do our part in expediting vaccines and other pharmaceutical products when and where it is needed most.

There is going to be an unprecedented demand for cargo space, far greater than there was for PPE at the advent of the pandemic. As the Prime Group was able to pivot and perform then, we are confident we can do it again for this next round.

Storage & Material Handling

The prevailing pre-pandemic logic, the old normal if you will, was that consumers tend not to demand goods at the same rate as a manufacturer supplies them. In supplying the entire world with a vaccine, that idea is about to be turned on its head.

This is where the role of cold storage, material handling, and warehousing comes in as well as the ability to better track and monitor the shipments. It is also an area of recent focus by the Prime Group—the rollout of enhanced state-of-the-art inventory tracking and product monitoring technologies.

To maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the cold supply chain, we are adding capacity among our network of temperature-controlled warehouses at key international transit points. We are also coordinating the necessary manpower and services needed on the ground at anticipated staging locations where the vaccines will be delivered to government agencies and world health organizations.

Packaging

Next is the role of packaging. With regard to the care and condition of the vaccine products, resilient packaging will be essential. But more than that, when released for emergency use, we expect this new class of COVID vaccines will come with strict temperature requirements, perhaps ranging between -70 and -80 degrees Celsius, and consistent temperature management.

With expansive knowledge and experience in the transport of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, the Prime Group is trained and ready to employ stringent government-approved procedures and staff at its strategically-positioned network of refrigerated warehouses to ensure product stability throughout the last-mile network.

Information & Control

In meeting the demand for reliable distribution of vaccines and crucial medical supplies, timeliness and accuracy of information is critical. Global supply chain visibility and event notification are key to Prime Group’s ability to meet customer demand and service reliability. Visibility starts with the ability to answer very basic questions: Where is it? When will it arrive? Is the expected date different from the planned date?

These days, we know we cannot simply look at past data to create models on which we can base long-term predictions. Instead, we must rely on short-term predictions. By partnering with leaders in the field of global IT software development, Prime Group has been redefining and digitizing its operations for enhanced efficiency, adaptability, readiness, and performance.

At such a strategically crucial moment, when there is so much at stake, we need fast access to mission-critical insights to meet the needs of our customers. Prime Group is also exploring AI-powered augmented analytics to help us explore and analyze data that will trigger various operational procedures essential to the on-time and safe delivery of refrigerated cargo from origin to destination.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about tremendous change in the way that the Prime Group delivers necessary cargo quickly and efficiently around the world. As a result, we are in a better position than ever.

And as we see signs that researchers and pharmaceutical companies are on the verge of having a viable vaccine, we know that their success in winning the battle against this disease depends on an our ability to deliver.

Wherever You Are, Prime Group Is Here for You

As the international turmoil of the pandemic continues, Prime Group remains steadfast in its support of our customers as they respond to the global need for essential commodities and healthcare supplies and equipment.

Nowhere near the end of this storm, and still not knowing what the “New Normal” will bring, for the present we will continue to do what we normally do – provide expert logistics support and services for our customers when they need it, where they need it, and get the job done right.

Our long history of service in the perishables business has prepared us well for this inflection point. We’re nimble, ready, and reliable. After all, when dealing with time- and temperature-sensitive commodities, it is all about precision and preparedness – because at any moment anything can go off track. And it usually does, which is why we’ve learned to always be ready with a plan B, C, and D.

World Service

Deemed an “Essential Business” early on, Prime Group companies were immediately front and center serving government agencies, world health organizations, and other customers integral to the global distribution of personal protection equipment (PPE) and crucial medical material. We’re proud of the part we played then and stand ready to continue to serve in this capacity as COVID-19 persists.

Successful missions to date have included managing numerous charters with PPE from Asia to the U.S. and Latin America. In addition, we continue moving multiple containers of needed material by ocean from Asia to the U.S., where we then transfer it to Latin America by air – always with an eye on cost and efficiency.

We also did 18 charters between Quito and Amsterdam with Emirates SkyCargo using B777-300s PFs (passenger freighters) to support the local growers and the flower industry in general.

And with so many people these days in self-isolation – and in need of better-for-you-snacks to help get them through – we successfully managed a doubling of sales of our Prime Planet Tostones, crafted and exported from Ecuador to retail markets all across the U.S.

New Directions

During this heightened period of activity, we also implemented a new marketing strategy that is effectively getting the word out regarding the wide range of new and existing services available through the Prime Group.

This major effort will allow us to build upon our existing strengths, while also moving us in new directions.

As we consider the ongoing impact of COVID-19, we are monitoring market forces that are shaping the future development of multiple industries and regions across the world. With our global network of offices and expert representation, we are continually finding new opportunities to answer the call for service – and to deliver.

Prime Group is eager to play a crucial role in supporting the major industries that today are facing the biggest logistics challenges – with FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and healthcare products leading the way. However, we are closely eyeing automotive, energy and utilities, industrial machinery and equipment, and other industries that are expecting new growth in the post-pandemic economy.

Although it may take another 18 months for things to “normalize,” whatever form that may take, the Prime Group will remain vigilant to changing customer needs and to delivering on our commitment to excellence in all we do.

The challenges before us are many. The opportunities are wide open. Wherever you are, we are here for you.

The New Normal Cost of Trade Show Connections

In my 20-plus years in global logistics, I’ve come to learn that success in business is all about human connection. In fact, the Prime Group of Companies has pinned its entire approach to business on this core principal.

 

Consistent, timely, and direct interpersonal communication – it’s how we understand customer needs, and expertly match our services to satisfy those needs.

Every day, across our entire system, we use a broad spectrum of communications options to network and make connections that will attract new business, ensure the best in customer satisfaction, and maintain long-lasting relationships with clients.

But in recent months, one of the most impactful of those efforts has ceased to exist.

The Fallout

The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed sudden changes on our industry, to say the least. Most notably, in the form of an immediate interruption of the global trade-show circuit, a necessary step to ensure public safety and to help stop the spread of the virus.

But the fallout has been the loss of dozens of crucial once-yearly meetings we would be now be conducting with so many of our key customers, prospects, and peers – all under one roof.

Events like the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit and Bogota’s Proflora that attract top players in the fresh-food and floral industries. And huge exhibitions like Air Cargo Europe with 65,000 logistics professionals in Munich last year, where we made great strides in moving into untapped markets across Europe and beyond.

With attendance numbers like that, it’s no wonder mass gatherings are totally off the table for the remainder of 2020. Can’t argue with that!

The Show Must Go On

While no one can see into the future with certainty, when these major business conventions and exhibitions make a come back – and they most certainly will – they’ll need to be changed, forever.

Face it, we are social animals, and no advancements in video or telecommunications technology can ever match the effectiveness of direct human connection, and the business it generates.

Of course, there will have to be an entire revamping of the trade-show industry’s delivery of mass meetings. It is imperative that they make these gatherings safe and responsible from a public-health standpoint, so when the time is right, we will be able to immediately and confidently step back into the most impactful means of  human connection.

Necessary Enhancements

Beyond the introduction of lots of sanitizer dispensers on convention floors, major changes at trade-show venues will need to include wellness checkpoints, increased ventilation filtering capacity, greatly expanded presentation spaces and controlled traffic-flow lanes to ensure social distancing – and perhaps even extending the length of shows by an extra day or two, and/or limiting daily attendance.

Such measures will no doubt be pricey. Significantly higher participation fees will need to be imposed to offset the high cost of supplying enhanced safety and security measures. And at first, there will likely be fewer participants than we’re used to. But this will be the new normal price of doing business in the post-coronavirus period.

Communication is what brings people together in our business and paves the way for future success. That will never change – just the means by which we achieve it.

I look forward to connecting with you soon. Until then, please stay well.

Prime Group advances digital logistics capabilities with Salesforce

As a global logistics leader, The Prime Group has arrived at a point in its evolution where advanced automation is needed to integrate marketing tactics, determine how efficiently marketing tactics and sales teams work, quantify the level of service customers receive and ultimately hold itself accountable for business growth objectives while maintaining customer focus. For this reason, Prime Group is now deploying Salesforce – creating more effective customer-focused marketing initiatives and increasing sales capabilities.

Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Salesforce’s cloud-based technologies are built to integrate data from the siloed parts of a company that interact with customers, and by giving teams a shared view, help improve response rates and revenues from marketing efforts, including advertising and social media.

To maximize customer support at scale, Prime Group will now leverage improved efficiency and effectiveness at each stage of the sales process – from setting strategy and implementing initiatives to taking action and measuring results. With a goal of improving customer communications and increasing new business opportunities, the custom-designed implementation for Prime Group began June 1.

“Today, we are stepping in a new direction by investing in a major technology upgrade, data-driven sales and marketing, and aggressive prospecting. This will position us extremely well for success in the pandemic period and well beyond,” said Roger Paredes, CEO of Miami-based Prime Group.

“Prime Group is on the cusp of something exciting,” Paredes continued. “At a time when logistics companies worldwide are struggling to get traction due to COVID-19, we’re already moving ahead by reaching outside the box to yield new types of partnerships and businesses that have not historically been part of the Prime Group portfolio.”

The Inside Story on Staying Inside

“How are you doing?”

Remember when we used this line as a simple pleasantry to get a conversation started – never really expecting a response. Well, we still say it these days, but we genuinely mean it!

It’s a small but telling example of how so many things have changed in the age of the coronavirus.

One of the biggest changes is not so much how we are conducting business, but where. Right now I am writing these words at my dining room table. Earlier, I “clocked in” at my home office down the hall. And perhaps later on, I’ll pick up and move over to the kitchen island to check my email.

Working from home is not a new concept, but working from home everyday is. And although we were forced to do so to remain safe – and operational – I am not so disappointed to be realizing the everyday benefits of being here.

Number one is commute time. I used to spend hours a week traversing the highways of Miami back and forth, home to work, and out to lunch and back. Now I am at “the office” each morning in 10 seconds flat. And lunch is, well, right over there on the kitchen counter – a few seconds away by foot!

Notice I didn’t say, a few seconds away barefoot. Because while some folks might be doing that, I do wear socks, and a business shirt and slacks so I’m always ready for the next Zoom call. Which brings me to my dry cleaning bill, or rather I should say the lack thereof – and my non-existent gas and mileage expenses, as well …

At-home working brings a whole host of noteworthy cost benefits, some bigger than others, of course. Seriously though, with all this newfound time and built-in efficiencies achieved while working remotely, I’ve been able to check off a lot of the administrative items I’ve wanted to get to over years.

With none of the tedious office distractions to get in the way, I am also taking a serious look at some smart new back-office initiatives that could allow the overall Prime Group team to deliver more value to our customers over the long-term.

I am also busy brushing the dust off several to-do lists outlining possible new marketing initiatives and business growth. In the past, for instance, we only dabbled with the idea of promoting our air-cargo charter abilities. Now, rather than being solely focused on the day-to-day, I am leading the charge at accelerating expansion into this market. And it’s already paying off in the form of an all-new series of high-visibility messaging via social media and other targeted-marketing platforms.

Then there’s our sudden increased reliance on Teams, Zoom, Skype, and the like. Few examples of how COVID-19 has forced us to change the fundamental ways we work is the widespread use of video conferencing. Since instituting a company-wide ban on business travel in early March, meetings via video has become the ultimate solution to connect with our remote workers and customers. Sure it takes away many of the benefits of direct contact with sales prospects and customers – but we’ll live with that!

Have I got more time to think these things through and envision new ideas? Absolutely. Am I am appreciative of the opportunity to sharpen my focus on the health and future success of our business. Yes.

But at the same time, please know that I am also deeply concerned with the health and well being of our customers, employees, their families and friends during this time of turmoil.

So when anyone with the Prime Group asks “How are you doing,” we’re not just happy to hear your voice, we truly want to know.

We’re here, we care, and we wish you good health.

Stop Being Afraid of What Could Go Wrong And Think of What Could Go Right

Right before our eyes, the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it – and along with it, the cargo and logistics industry.

As the coronavirus continues to be profoundly disruptive to the global supply chain, few companies have been able to escape its devastating impact, and many may not survive.

Prime Group will not be among them.

On Course
Long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, Prime Group had already charted a course of successful diversification. So although our core business of shipping fresh cut flowers is taking a big hit right now, we’ve been able to trim our sails and swiftly move into supporting the logistics needs of myriad other specialized industries.

And right on time.

As long-time experts in handling perishables, fortunately we’ve been able to stay busy helping to meet the worldwide demand for fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. After all, people still need access to food supply.

And not to make light, they also have to snack while at home all day self-isolating. So our product line of Tostones is coming in quite handy for that.

But more than anything, because of our agility as a company and our well established ability in handling highly specialized pharmaceuticals and other commodities related to the medical field, this is where we are now putting great emphasis.

Doing Our Part
I know I speak for the entire Prime Group team, when I say we are very proud to be able to play this important role in helping countries across the world get access to the essential goods they need right now.

This pandemic doesn’t look quite like anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. Trying to plan or make predictions in a time of such uncertainty is really hard.

But what I do know is, as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the people of Prime Group will continue to be there for you, our customers.

Protecting Our Team
In order to maintain the highest levels of service while protecting the health of our team, many of our employees are currently working remotely. A small staff remains in the office, where there is restricted access for all non-essential employees and visitors. Also, as our warehouses are still receiving and dispatching as normal, rest assured, we are in accordance with local health mandates and advisories.

The dedication exhibited by our team, many of whom are also facing immense personal challenges at this difficult time, has been truly remarkable.

I am confident will we make it through this trying time and come out on the other side stronger, healthier, and more resilient than ever.

I believe it was Tony Robbins who once said, “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and think of what could go right.” So, please stay calm, think positively, and be healthy my friends.