Prime Fresh Handling Casts a Big Net Over New York

Prime Fresh Handling is casting a bigger net over New York by expanding its perishables business to include the handling of fresh fish – but also by enhancing the customer experience with the rollout of exciting new software.

Since early 2019, when PFH decided to couple its core mission of handling fresh-cut flowers with the import of fresh fish, business has been growing exponentially. And now, a soon-to-be released tracking software is promising to make the company’s service product even more desirable.

“The strategy of introducing fresh fish into our New York service line is definitely paying off,” says Alex Paredes, PFH Sales Manager North America.

“It’s been just four months, but we’re growing at a very fast rate because of course were not only able to take immediate advantage of PFH’s existing cold-chain infrastructure here that supports our established flower business, but our vast know-how in shipping perishables in general. So expanding into fish was the next natural step.”

Not to suggest PFH isn’t facing competition in this enormous metropolitan market. But Paredes says other companies in New York focus predominantly on the trucking service, not on the handling end of the business, as PFH does so well.

“While we do have own dedicated fleet of refrigerated trucks to ship product, our primary focus is expert handling – and of course quality control.”

PFH currently serves most major distribution centers in New York including Fulton Market, and the New Fulton Market in the Bronx, as well as upstate New York and into New Jersey.

Let’s Get Fresh
Although timing is everything in the highly-specialized perishables business, understandably, fish require a lot more care and attention than flowers, for instance.

“Freshness is everything with fish. That’s why our customers demand that their product is recovered within less than three to four hours of landing at the airport, and that we adhere to the strictest standards of quality control all along the way,” says Paredes. “And this is where reliance on real-time technology steps in.”

New Technology
According to Omar Zambrano, Prime Group’s Chief Operations Officer, the new hand-held units they are deploying utilize similar software to what’s already in use to ship of flowers, dry cargo, and perishables.3

Integrally involved in the development and rollout of the new software and scanners, Zambrano says the officially rollout is on schedule for an August release.

The new software will be deployed in Los Angeles as well, where the company is also enjoying a booming presence in the fresh-fish business.

How it works:
• As soon as the precious cargo arrives at the PFH’s JFK warehouse, expert handlers are standing by to begin preparing the fish immediately, in order to meet strict delivery deadlines throughout the New York area and to connect with flights to down-line cities.
• From that moment of arrival, the imperative is to initiate direct, real-time communications with the end-point customers – the wholesale/retail distributors and restaurants.
• Using a mobile scanner, warehouse staff clicks on the pallet, triggering a message to the customer that their fish is here, it’s been offloaded from the aircraft, and it is now in the warehouse.
• As the process of breaking down the pallets begins, temperatures are continually monitored and the customer is now advised that their delicate cargo is being segregating by fish type.
• Because orders are custom-prepared based on customer need, on their end, they sign for what they want it, their order is boxed and iced, and is quickly dispatched for delivery.

All the while, this custom-designed software is also keeping PFH staff on point in order to minimize delays and eliminate human error.

“It is easy and smart – and benefits everyone,” says Zambrano. “The software was designed to be totally user friendly so all they have to do is click, click, and click – and there is nothing more to think about.”

Except, of course, enjoying amazingly fresh and delicious fresh fish.

For details, contact Alex Paredes, PFH Sales Manager-North America, via email at salesjfk@primegroup.aero or call PFH New York at 516-837-9777. For more information, visit www.primegroup.aero.

Celebrating 18 Years of Prime Group Success

While flipping through some old photo albums in preparation for our company’s 18th anniversary this month, a great rush of nostalgia came over me. It was just so satisfying to look back at the myriad milestones we achieved over the years and the amazing growth we’ve experienced.

There we were in dozens of pictures with bright smiling faces accepting corporate awards, rolling out new services in new markets, working major trade shows… Some things never change.

But then again, some things change a lot – and I’m not just referring to how young I looked! As I sat there looking down memory lane, it suddenly hit me that all those faces looking back at me were on glossy color-photo paper pasted into a faux leather-bound book. That’s how we use to do it! Using a “technology” that is now considered totally out of date in today’s digital world.

Who could have foreseen the avalanche of impending advancements that would not only revolutionize how we capture and share images, but in the process, deal a deathblow to major corporate giants like Kodak and Polaroid. I am sure they wish they were better prepared for what was coming.

Lessons Learned
So, lessons learned. But also lessons applied – which is why I can say with great confidence that as we celebrate 18 years in business, I firmly believe Prime Group is extremely well positioned to survive the unknown unknowns. Because we have a strategy in place that keeps our companies open to all possibilities. We are not only nimble, but entirely deliberate in the way we are diversifying our business lines.

Who would have thought 18 years ago we would be here today using cutting-edge communications technology to track and monitor the status of thousands of pounds of fresh fish arriving at LAX and JFK, real-time, for a whole new base of customers. That’s what’s happening right now at Prime Fresh Products.

Who would have thought we’d have created a line of snack-foods, Tostones harvested and packaged in Ecuador for distribution among major retail supermarkets all across the U.S. That’s what is happening now at Prime Fresh Products.

Well Positioned
And all this upon a backdrop of aggressive sales and marketing efforts geared toward boosting awareness of the Prime Group brand in a way that will position us for long-term growth in new and emerging markets around the globe.

They say the only constant in business is change. With that in mind, we are continually monitoring our alignment with defined organizational challenges and objectives. We are also keenly aware that our business can be influenced by:

• Increased diversity and globalization in the workforce, customers, suppliers, and competitors;
• New technologies that have resulted in faster pace and larger scale;
• A more complex communications environment with more channels; and
• Changes in business situations and strategy.

So in 18 years, when I look back at our bright smiling faces, the moments, and milestones – stored on an antiquated USB drive – I will know that right there in the background, there were smart and strategic efforts taking place to ensure the long-term success of our company.

Thank you for being with us on this journey.

Prime Group Salutes Quito Airport

I recently came across a quote by Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos that really resonated with me: “You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

With those few words, I realized he was describing the very thing that has forged our own company’s reputation since starting operations in Quito 18 years ago.

Prime Group knows how to do hard things well. Period.

In fact, we’ve mastered the handling of time-sensitive perishables and specialty cargo to such a degree that when someone in logistics thinks “Quito,” they instantly think “Prime Group.”

Our reputation for providing best-in-class service here is also why we’re the go-to GSSA for the biggest names in air cargo, like Atlas Air and Emirates SkyCargo.

And now we’re seeing a clear sign that success breeds success: the combination of top-quality airlines and Prime Group’s unmatched brand of service is playing a significant role in the success of the overall cargo operation at Quito airport.

At this year’s Air Cargo Excellence Awards (ACE), presented by Air Cargo World magazine, Mariscal Sucre International Airport was recognized with the prestigious Diamond Award.

The award considers the performance, facilities, and value delivered – through the eyes of freight forwarders, cargo agents, and third-party logistics providers. In all these areas, Quito has achieved the highest grades for excellence among airports handling under 400,000 tonnes annually.

To me, this affirms the notion that no matter where we operate, Prime Group companies continually excel, improve, and set new standards. Of course there are many factors that play a part in Quito’s excellence, but certainly we have left an indelible and positive mark on the overall operation – and continue to do so every day here.

So on behalf of our dedicated team of flight dispatchers, administrative and accounting agents, operations and traffic supervisors and agents, and sales representatives in Quito, we congratulate Mariscal Sucre International Airport on this well deserved honor.

And we humbly promise to continue to do our part to ensure that together we may celebrate this important honor year after year, long into the future.

Lastly, allow me also to congratulate one of our most important customers, Emirates SkyCargo, for winning the ACE Diamond Award as the top carrier for 2019 in the airline competition.

Well done, team!

Dragon fruit signals shift in focus for Prime Fresh Handling

It seems the world is catching on to the power of the pitahaya. Also known as the dragon fruit, this delicious tropical superfood from Ecuador is now growing in popularity from Hong Kong to the U.S. and many points between.

And that’s a good thing for Prime Group. Because as the market’s appetite grows, two of its divisions stand to benefit most: PrimeAir as the GSSA for air carriers transporting the product worldwide; and Prime Fresh Handling (PHF) as the agent that takes care of such sensitive perishables on the ground.

In fact, it was the PFH team at LAX that was ready and waiting when the first-ever U.S. import of organic pitahaya was accepted here last month.

Leading up to this historic flight, the Ecuadorean Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock worked long and hard with in-country fruit producers dedicated to this crop. And it is now paying off as the agency recently announced that dozens of international markets are currently open for the export of organic dragon fruit – spanning China, North America, Southeast Asia, Russia, and 28 countries of the European Community.

The Ecuadorean pitahaya is the most highly sought variety not just because it’s so plump and enticing, with hardy yellow skin and unique seed-speckled flesh, but because it can do a lot for your health, too.

In fact, benefits include anti-aging, immune system boosting, and sugar stabilization. And pitahaya tastes great too, like a mix between a kiwi and pear with a slight crunchiness.

 

Growing Presence
The seeds to success in being selected to handle Ecuador’s first inbound shipment of organic pitahaya actually were planted over a year ago, says PFH’s Commercial Manager Cristina Moscoso.

That’s when she and her team launched a big commercial push to grow the division’s U.S. West Coast presence. This move was timed to follow an expansion of the PFH facility at LAX, which now features more than 21,000-square-feet of cooler and freezer space for product staging and storage.

“We obviously know a lot about handling fresh flowers, our core business. But lately, we’ve made impressive strides into serving clients who deal in other perishables, such as fish and produce,” said Moscoso.

With PFH facilities also in Bogota, Quito, Miami, New York, Amsterdam, the division offers a complete menu of logistics services from crating and packaging, to cold storage and inventory services – even document processing and customs clearance.

“So that’s why we’re so pleased to be working with organic pitahaya – it’s is exactly what we have been aiming for.”

 

Well-Timed Fruit

Not only is the pitahaya good for you and good for business, it’s amazingly well timed. Just as the annual flower season cycles down, dragon fruit is ready to fill the open capacity out of Quito.

It’s where produce meets productivity.

“March was always the low point of the year in terms of kilos handled, but now, due especially to the pitahaya, the number of shipments and tonnes of fruit has been on a major upswing,” says Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes.

In fact, this year they didn’t really feel the low season at all following Russian Women’s Day, the traditional end of the busy flower season.

Paredes also notes that while dragon fruit demand is high all across the world, the majority of output right now is going to China, via connecting Emirates SkyCargo flights from Quito.

“We are all hopeful this will be more than just a ‘year of the dragon,’” he quipped.

“But seriously, if the voracious Chinese market is leading the way in the consumption of pitahaya, all of us supporting its distribution should plan to be busy over the long haul.”

 

For more information, visit primefresh.eu or email Commercial Manager Cristina Moscoso at Cristina.Moscoso@primeair.aero.

Flying High with Atlas Air

PrimeAir recently celebrated its second year of direct operations with Atlas Air in Bogota, with six frequencies per week between BOG and MIA.

One of the premier carriers in PrimeAir’s portfolio, Atlas Air is not only one of the most important and reliable cargo airlines in the world, it is the company’s longest lasting customer.

When Prime Group’s founding company started operations in 2001, the first flight they ever serviced was between Quito and Miami – an Atlas Air 747 freighter, full of flowers, of course.

All these years later, says Commercial Manager for Colombia José Luis Vargas, “We are still boasting about our GSA relationship with Atlas Air, because they truly epitomize what a professionally run and reliability air carrier operation should be.”

Due to the fact that Atlas Air is a top choice among shippers and freight forwarders worldwide, Vargas continued, “In turn, we are considered to have the best service and the best integrity in the markets where we represent Atlas Air.”

As one of four companies that comprise the Prime Group, today, it is PrimeAir that represents and services Atlas Air’s cargo operation in Colombia and Ecuador.

 

Atlas Air recently coordinated a quick video shoot of their freight operation at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport to capture ramp action that takes place as part of PrimeAir’s role in providing ground operations here.

The Story of Atlas

So let’s get on board with what Atlas Air is all about – by starting in the beginning.

The word Atlas comes from the Titan god in Greek mythology that bore the sky aloft. He personified the quality of endurance because he carried the heavens upon his shoulders.

Flash forward about 2,700 years to the early 1990s, when Atlas Air founder Michael Chowdry saw an opportunity in the air cargo sector and founded his company. He began by leasing freighter aircraft to other airlines on an aircraft-, crew-, maintenance-, and insurance-contract basis (ACMI). Operations began with one aircraft, a Boeing 747-200.

Today, Atlas Air is setting higher standards for value and excellence by providing a wide range of long- and short-term cargo and passenger solutions, from shipping precious perishables and heavy construction equipment, to arranging passenger charters for celebrities or dignitaries.

Specifically, along its cargo spectrum of services, shippers, freight forwarders, manufacturers, sporting groups, and other organizations rely on Atlas Air to safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively carry their commercial cargo.

The demands of globalization require freight and passenger charter solutions from a company with the aircraft, technology, and infrastructure that helps its customers create their own global footprint.

Atlas Air has all this and more – including the traffic rights, regulatory expertise, in-country sales, and support and a 24-hour global control center needed to expand their customer operations.

In February 2001, Atlas Air Worldwide formed its current holding company structure with Atlas Air as a wholly owned subsidiary. Other subsidiaries include:

  • Polar Air Cargo, Inc., all-cargo, scheduled-service
  • Titan Aviation, dry leasing
  • Southern Air, intercontinental and domestic ACMI and CMI services

For the past several years, Atlas was voted “Leasing Provider of the Year” in an industry survey by the Payload Asia magazine. The survey added Atlas as “Charter Operator of the Year,” as well.

In May 2016, Atlas announced a strategic, long-term relationship with Amazon to provide and operate 20 Boeing 767-300 converted freighters in support of the continuing expansion of Amazon’s e-commerce business and the enhancement of its customer delivery capabilities.

Today, Atlas Air Worldwide is the leading global provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services. They are proud to be the world’s largest operator of B747 freighter aircraft and the only outsource provider of Boeing’s 747-8F.

They are also proud to provide customers the broadest array of B747, 777, 767, 757 and 737 freighter and passenger aircraft for domestic, regional, and international ACMI, CMI, charter, and dry lease applications.

 

For information about Atlas Air, visit www.atlasair.com e-mail info@atlastair.com, or call or call 914-701-8000.

A view from the window seat

They say, when you’re 18 years old, everything is possible and tomorrow looks friendly.

Like humans, businesses have lifecycles, too. In 2019, as Prime Group celebrates its 18th year in operation, it is moving from what industry experts call the “Growth and Establishment” phase into “Expansion” – an exciting time indeed.

So, in order get a good view of where Prime Group and its four divisions are going in the year ahead, let’s take a look at where they have come from.

Over the past couple years, as Prime Group has continued to take on new customers, it’s been busy managing increasing levels of revenue, staying ahead of the competition, and expanding its workforce.

More recently, Co-Founders Roger Paredes and Omar Zambrano also took a bold step to start establishing real order and cohesion by mobilizing each divisional team according to clearly defined and communicated goals. This was achieved with the help of internationally renowned London Consulting Group.

“We signed on to work closely with the London consultants to enhance operational efficiencies that will ensure Prime Group is able to adapt to changes precipitated by our anticipated growth,” said Roger Paredes.

After months of studying the company inside and out, a broad range of action steps got underway to restructure and streamline operations. Starting in 2018, they ranged from expanding Prime Group’s space in Miami and at stations all across its system, to instituting new internal processes to make the company more agile and efficient.

New Headquarters

In August 2018, the company pulled up stakes and relocated the international headquarters in Doral. The new and significantly larger office-warehouse complex, within close proximity to MIA, offers a promising platform for continued success.

“We now boast more than 4,000 square feet of office space in the new building and doubled the size of our warehouse to 20,000 sqft,” said Zambrano.

 

A Push for PAOC

Multiple initiatives now being realized also include the start of a commercial push for Prime Air & Ocean Cargo, the freight-forwarding side of the business. Based here in Miami, PAOC’s expanded warehouse and storage facility at the new Doral headquarters will not only fuel its progress, but also position PAOC for greater diversification in 2019.

Says Zambrano, “We are looking forward to a very good year. Brazil in particular will become a more significant player in 2019, along with several other principal countries in South America.”

PrimeAir on the Move

Over the past year, PrimeAir saw an enhancement of business relationships with partners that share the company’s goals – particularly Emirates SkyCargo and Atlas Air.

This summer, the division that serves as an integrated General Sales and Services Agent around the world, was appointed as SkyCargo’s new GSSA in the Colombian market, following Emirate’s launch of international cargo service into Bogota. This supplements an existing separate schedule of daily flights in neighboring Quito.

Speaking of Quito, the company boosted staffing in 2018 to accommodate a shift in focus from a purely PrimeAir office to a fully diversified Prime Group operation, offering entire spectrum of brands under one roof.

Similarly, BOG is following suit, so that the parent company’s multiple divisions are on track to become the top provider of air cargo logistics and services in that region, as well.

Prime Fresh Handling

Prime Fresh Handling is handling its operation well. Over past year, there was a continued emphasis on boosting PFH’s services at both LAX and at JFK , two of the newest and most successful station operations in the Prime Group system.

Amsterdam, too, is emerging as a key player for the company. A primary gateway to the entire European market, the new Schiphol operation is today recognized as a prime location for opportunity – and success.

Ready for Prime Time

This is a real success story: Prime Fresh Products, specializing in working in-country to take perishable, shelf-stable products to market in one integrated path, is taking the snack world by storm – in the form of unique new lines of snacks under the Prime Planet name.

After seeing great success with Prime Planet Tostones – and their 2018 foray into big South Florida supermarkets like Publix – the company realized it was a perfect time to grow this division and will continue to do so through 2019.

In concert with the launch of Prime Planet Parsnip Chips and Cassava Chips, PFP is also set to gain greater exposure in 2019 with the recent launch of its new slogan, “A Natural World of Flavor.”

 

Looking Ahead

The next phase in the business lifecycle is “Expansion.” To get there, Prime Group plans to focus on 2019 as a launch pad to propel the company into 2020 and beyond. Paredes says that stabilizing the ship, so to speak, for a smooth journey ahead is what 2019 will be all about.

He also notes that in 2019, Prime Group will continue to enhance the portfolio of airlines they work with in order to expand into more markets in South America, Asia, and other U.S. cities and states. “And there’s some promising surprises in store, too.”

Many entrepreneurs agree, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards.

“I agree,” says Paredes, “and with careful planning in 2019 and constant vigilance to the quality of service we provide, Prime Group will be better positioned for success than every before in our history.”

Stick to Your Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that the New Year is here. I am thankful for a fulfilling 2018 and a joyous holiday season.

In the year ahead – our 18th anniversary year – we will reinforce the positive changes in 2018 that resulted in favorable growth and prosperity among the four divisions of the parent company, Prime Group.

Going forward, I am also committed to reinforcing those activities that have helped me personally to be my best, so I may continue to enjoy the most meaningful things in life – family, satisfying work, and my health and well-being.

It’s good to have goals, or resolutions as we call them this time of year. One of mine for 2019 is to seek more of a balance between my work life and personal life, something we should all consider in order to be at the top of our game.

Getting fit is another one of those basic resolutions, and it’s certainly no cakewalk! I should know, because it was my top resolution last year. And today I’m happy to report not only did I stick with the plan, but I lost 30 pounds in the process. I have greater energy, dexterity, and more confidence in movement – it even helped with my posture.

So this year, I am going to be resolute in eating smart and healthy, which again is pretty basic, but important at the same time.

This idea of paying strict attention to the basics – be it personally or in business – can yield tangible benefits. If you put in the investment, it pays off.

Again, whether it’s your physical plant or a business, people notice when your operation looks good, when you’re well postured, and when you are on track to meet your goals.

Counting your blessings is also a traditional act we engage in this time of year. But more than an act, gratitude has proven benefits to our overall well-being. I recently learned that giving thanks allows us to feel better rested and have higher self-esteem. So, it turns out that intentional appreciation is more than minding our manners – it’s good for our mental health.

So I’m also using this holiday season to renew my commitment to gratitude. And I am happy to start right now by sharing my appreciation for you, our Prime Group customers.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and from all of us at the Prime Group family of companies, I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

A Time to Share Thanks

By Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes.

Every Thanksgiving, my family goes around the table to share what we’re thankful for, just before digging into the turkey. Even back when we lived in Quito, my American wife would insist on putting on a huge Thanksgiving dinner each year, complete with all the trimmings, in an effort to keep the stateside tradition going for our young daughters.

 

Close friends and family joining us there really enjoyed the chance to experience this unique American holiday, not just because it was like getting an extra early Christmas turkey meal, but because it focuses on the universal theme of thanks and gratitude.

 

And although this year we plan to take our celebration to the beach here in Miami, the warm and wonderful family tradition of sharing gratitude continues. Be it a beach blanket or formal dining table, it’s really all about being together, breaking bread, and acknowledging those who are most important.

 

Thanksgiving is also a time when we take stock of what we’ve accomplished over the past year and give thanks to all the wonderful people in our lives who have been at our side along the way, like our valued customers.

 

So, I want take a moment to personally let you to know how thankful my business partner Omar Zambrano and I are to be associated with you. Thank you for placing your trust in us and giving us a chance to provide you with our services. Your success is our success – and I am pleased that for so many of you, this has been a banner year.

 

And because much of our company’s good fortune is also tied to our dedicated and talented employees, I want to thank them as well, for the work they do to make our company great. You help us provide top-tier services to our clients every day. Without your commitment, creativity, and high standards, we would not be the thriving company we are. I am very grateful for your efforts.

 

I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with abundance and bright moments.

 

PrimeAir set sights on Colombia, one of the hottest markets in South America

When people think of Colombia, what often comes to mind is coffee, cut flowers, and emeralds. Prime Group is working hard at adding its name to this list.

 

And with a continued expansion of the company’s presence here, they’re on track to do just that. The umbrella company and its multiple divisions are fast becoming known as Colombia’s top provider of air cargo logistics and services.

 

While the primary focus of Prime Group services here continues to be in support of air carriers and the shipment of perishables – the company is focused on expanding its presence in the highly lucrative Colombian market.

 

With about 25 employees now based in Bogota, they recently boosted staffing to accommodate a shift in focus from a purely PrimeAir office to a diversified Prime Group operation. They are also focused on best accommodating their new relationship with Emirates SkyCargo, the largest cargo airline worldwide in terms of international freight flown.

 

To get a good perspective on the Bogota operation, we recently spoke with Commercial Manager for Colombia José Luis Vargas.

 

Q: Tell us a about your Bogota operation?

JLV: PrimeAir is one of the companies that comprise the Prime Group, dedicated to representing cargo airlines in South America markets. In September, we celebrated our second year of direct operation here with six frequencies per week between Bogotá and Miami with Atlas Air, one of the most important and reliable cargo airlines in the world. Another important point is that we are listed as the second biggest carrier in the market from Colombia to worldwide destinations, according to IATA statistics.

 

  1. With the growing success of the BOG, are you outgrowing your office?

JLV: Well, yes, we’ve been on the move – but that’s certainly a good problem to have! We started with a small office of 500 ft2. in 2017, and quickly had to move into a new space double the size. But it didn’t end there – this year we expanded to an area of 1,700 ft2 for Administrative, Finance & Sales, and Marketing; and to a separate office of 800 ft2 for operations. All tolled, we house 25 employees at Terminal 1, Office 220, of El Dorado International Airport.

 

Q: What is the focus of service here?

JLV: As I mentioned, we are focus primarily on the PrimeAir services, representing airlines in the local market. But being part of the overall Prime Group allows us to provide our customers with a full range of solutions within the supply chain – not only as a carrier but also as a strategic partner with our own facilities in the U.S., Europe, South America, and our strong partnership with companies all over the world. We are also presently building momentum with several new offerings for which new people are being hired, for instance to man our new Vacuum Cooling service; and for our new service with Emirates Sky Cargo here.

 

  1. What is your strategy with the BOG operation?

JLV: When you start a project in a new market, you need to identify one purpose, and start by offering one specialized service. Once that’s established, you can move on. This is what we have done in Colombia. Such an approach helps us avoid improvisations and mistakes that could come at cost in the future. In Colombia we want to replicate what the Prime Group is doing in other parts of the world, and in a very deliberate way. Now we believe is the time for us to diversify our products in Colombia, which is why the company is making important investments in order to serve the market with better solutions and services. It’s an exciting time.

 

  1. What does the Colombian market look like?

JLV: We are seeing hefty increases in market volume. If you compare this year’s Valentines Day season with last (Jan-Feb 2018 v Jan-Feb 2017), we went from 35.336 tons to 40.238 tons moved during that period, according to Asocolflores official report. This represents an increase of 13.9 percent of the volume transported by air this year. To us, this is a positive sign for the upcoming years. Obviously there are some challenges in the sector that must be sorted out and involves different actors (government, flower association, carriers, freight forwarders), but in general we are very optimistic about the future of the economy and the country.

 

Q: Who are your biggest customers?

JLV: In the Colombian market, global agents such as Kuehne & Nagel and Panalpina have a strong presence and consequently are very important partners of ours in the country. But local agents also play a very big role, companies like Logiztik Alliance, Cargex, Masterfreight International, and Cargomaster among others. In fact, most of them are becoming regional partners due to their presence in other countries of the region.

 

Q: What are the primary products of the region?

JLV: The main products we transport by air are flowers, fruit, and fish – all of which are very sensitive commodities requiring special handling processes – which is exactly what we specialize in. Although these products represent more than 90 percent of our total volume, we also transport other many other items that are, frankly, no less difficult to handle, such as aircraft engines, cars, motorcycles, tools and machines for the oil industry, live animals, and more.

 

Q: How do you store, ship, and transport the products?

JLV: In-country shipments are delivered directly by the farms themselves to the airline facilities at the airport. Here, all shipments must pass through a rigorous security process, where all single boxes are scanned and measured – a process that is professionally and competently supervised. After all, when you talk about air transportation, security is a top priority. Then, all shipments pass into to the cool facilities where they are palletized according to the configuration of the aircraft. One hour before each aircraft arrives in Bogotá, the pallets must be ready and waiting on the ramp. The transit time of the aircraft cannot exceed 1.5 hours, before it is loaded up with the outbound cargo. The aircraft has its own cool system that guarantees that the cool chain will never be interrupted. The dynamism and exigency of this business make all your days different.

 

Q: Tell me about the new agreement with Emirates.

JLV: PrimeAir has a long-time relationship with Emirates. In Ecuador, EK operates four direct flights per week from Quito to Amsterdam, under PrimeAir representation. In that sense, the cooperation between both companies is very well established. Now, Colombia is an interesting market due to its volume of flowers being exported not only to the U.S., which has been the country’s traditional main partner, but also to Europe, the Middle East, Far East, and Oceania – markets that are served by Emirates with its immense network around the world. We are starting a four-day a week operation to Dubai and beyond, via Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) in cooperation with Avianca Airlines as a feeder for the transit from BOG to FLL. This is a great opportunity for the Colombian market to get into Dubai in just one day using the direct AWB of Emirates, which makes the transit times in FLL fast and easy.

 

  1. With the Quito Flower Show season behind us, are there other trade shows that are of equal importance to attend?

JLV: Yes, we always attend the Quito and Bogotá flowers shows, and Air Cargo Americas in Miami. This year we also attended the Amsterdam, Moscow, Guangzhou, and Tokyo flowers shows. And we already have a full agenda for the next year, including perhaps attending the Intermodal show in Sao Paulo in 2019.

 

  1. What do you think of the city of Bogota?

JLV: Bogotá is a main capital known for a wide range of attractive cultural and culinary offerings. With a population of almost nine million people, it is an amazing location to do business, as it is the base hub for most of the country’s biggest and most important companies. Bogota also benefits due to its location in the heart of Cundinamarca, the region where 70 percent of the total production of flowers is generated.

 

  1. Are you happy with your assignment in the Prime Group world?

JLV: Yes, I am quite happy indeed. Let me tell you a quick story: I had been in the sector for seven years, when I left Lufthansa Cargo to join with Prime Group in 2014. This was a new project and, as I mentioned, we started with a very small office. One of the reasons for going with Prime Group was that the company already had an impressive presence and was well recognized in other markets at that time – so in that sense I knew I was joining a serious group. But the main driver was the vision and sense of purpose of the company that made me believe in this project. Now, five years later, I can tell you it was the right decision and I feel very proud and honored to be part of this company and in the role I play.

 

For information, contact Commercial Manager José Luis Vargas via email at joseluis.vargas@primeair.aero or by calling 305-735-3570. Also visit www.primeair.aero.

The Inside Scoop on ‘Thinking Outside the Box’

By Roger Paredes, CEO Prime Group.

One of the most well-worn business clichés is “thinking outside the box.” It seems that everyone is obsessed with thinking outside the box – even those of us in air cargo logistics where we spend most of our time thinking about what’s inside the box!

 

But aside from this playful irony, for a business like Prime Group to become a best-in-class company in today’s competitive environment, we must work hard not just on what we do well today, but also on planning what we might do better tomorrow.

 

This requires thinking and performing outside the box.

 

So what’s this term all about? Thinking outside the box is supposed to mean confronting challenges in atypical ways, thinking creatively and freely, and encouraging frequent challenges to the status quo. Sounds like common sense, but this way of thinking is rarer than you might think in corporate America.

 

Not with the Prime Group family. It is evident to our customers that our people work for a company that encourages non-conformity, in an environment that allows them to continually generate new ideas and innovation. Our employees know that the work they do everyday and the ideas they bring to the table can – and do – have a huge impact.

 

The idea to grow a line of imported snacks here in the U.S. is one such move.

 

On the face of it, for a company focused primarily on air cargo logistic to leap into an enterprise that is totally unrelated to its core business is rather unconventional, to say the least.

 

But not the case. After testing the waters by launching our now-popular line of Prime Planet Tostones, we realized it makes great sense to grow this division of Prime Group.

And lo and behold, our outside-the-box thinking brought us right to the parsnip.

 

Yes, the inimitable parsnip chip is now making its way from select producers in Ecuador, via our well-established transportation and distribution network, all the way to grocer’s shelves in North America. They are tasty, unique, and healthy for a mom to give to their kids. And Prime Planet is right at the head of the pack – by thinking outside the bag, in this instance!

 

Prime Group is growing and succeeding because we have successfully cultivated a culture that empowers and inspires our team to approach problems in new, innovative ways; conceptualizing challenges differently; and understanding customer needs in a way perhaps they’d never thought of before.

 

It is important that our customers know this, that the Prime Group imperative is to think inside the box and outside the box – every day.