There’s a well known show-tune line that goes, “New York, New York, a helluva town…” Most everyone on the planet has heard Frank Sinatra sing these words. And anyone who’s been to New York or done work here would agree.
Certainly Alex Paredes does. He’s the Sales Manager coordinating Prime Fresh Handling service in New York, one of the fastest growing and successful station operations in the Prime Group system, just outside John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Having relocated to New York two years ago, Paredes finds the city to be an amazing place for living and for tourism, of course. “But from a business standpoint, it is truly unbeatable,” he says, due to the fact that it’s the most populated U.S. city per square foot.
“You can find always someone trying to sell or buy something here.”
As is most of the company’s management team, Paredes hails from Ecuador. In his short time here, he has discovered New Yorkers to be very friendly, “and there is always something to do – its rhythm of life in this city that catches you.”
A Mass Market
Paredes also recognizes that New York is a mass consumer market. “In addition to our most popular shipment here – flowers – it is a huge market for produce, fish, and dairy.”
He says it is especially gratifying to find Ecuadorian flowers in bouquets on sale at local markets and to see huge arrangements of South American flowers displayed at major high-society events in the city, such as the Annual Met Gala, considered the “Oscars of the East Coast.”
Prime Group has maintained a New York office for about five years but didn’t start to expand until building up the perishable side of the business in 2016, with the adaptation of the initial cooler at the original warehouse.
Presently located in Inwood, N.Y., about two miles from the airport, the facility is similar in size and scope to the company’s Los Angeles operation. The JFK-based team consists of three office employees, two drivers, three full-time warehouse helpers, and three additional part-time helpers.
According to Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes, no family relation to Alex, Prime Fresh Handling is today seen as a key player in the distribution of flowers in New York to cities all across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
“With the typical customers of the New York operation being freight forwarders from South America and from across the world, we also work with importers, wholesalers, and retailers of flowers, produce, and fish,” he said.
How it Works
Here’s how it works: Upon receiving daily consolidations of flowers, and passing Agriculture Inspection and U.S. Customs clearance, the Prime Fresh Handling team then picks up the shipments from the airport, and transports them to the warehouse facility where PFH sorts and pre-cools the product for its ultimate pick up or delivery to the final consignee.
While the mainstay is the “transfer” of flowers, PFH is now starting to get more heavily involved with fresh produce and fish. Alex also notes there is great business potential in handling dry cargo from the Northeast to most of the countries of South America.
A Helluva Town
So is managing the New York presence considered an exciting assignment? Alex says yes, without question. “Of all cities across, working the JFK office is excellent because the company has experienced such steady growth here over the past few years.”
In fact, he adds, they continue to look for other business and growth alternatives – and are finding great success at that endeavor, too.
The team is now venturing beyond its core flower-transport business to participate in a regional and national food shows, such as the recent Summer Fancy Food Show – the largest specialty food industry event in North America that took place in July in New York.
“It was a huge show offering very big opportunities for us – so now we are planning to attend every year.”
Into the Future
Never a moment’s rest. Because now the company is in the early stages of scoping out bigger warehouse/office accommodations in the area. According to Roger, “It is getting especially busy on the weekends, and now with product coming in from Mexico for processing in our facility, it seems we’re suddenly outgrowing our skin.”
But these growing pains are the kind that actually feel good,” he adds. “It’s going well up here and we are very happy with the operation.”
Prime Fresh Handling benefits by being part of Miami-based Prime Group, a network of coordinated cargo and freight specialists with offices and representatives worldwide.