PrimeAir roots run deep at Quito Station

Prime Group continues to be recognized as a significant player in the business, with the clearest sign being the continued expansion its largest station operations across its system.

Leading the way is the Quito station, the historic base of operations for the company – where it all started 17 years ago inside one small office.

Today, the primary focus is still PrimeAir’s services in support of airlines and the shipment of perishables – even as Prime Group is engaged in a strategic restructuring of the operation to ensure the Quito’s long-term success.

With about 30 employees now based in Quito, the company recently boosted staffing to accommodate a shift in focus from a purely PrimeAir office to a diversified Prime Group operation, where the entire spectrum of brands are now present under one roof.

To get a better perspective on the Quito operation, we talked with General Manager Elizabeth Suarez. She oversees PrimeAir’s representation of airlines in Ecuador and Colombia, in terms of air cargo services, operations, handling, vendor control, and accounting.

Q. Tell us about PrimeAir’s early days in Quito.

Elizabeth: PrimeAir started as a GSSA, servicing three 747s in 2001 to Miami, and over the years, has focused solely on serving air-carrier shipments of perishables – mostly flowers. We have had different experiences with different companies. But today, I can tell you, we have an important presence in the market because we are working with very reputable companies. We have found the right formula. So now, when someone thinks “Quito,” they instantly think PrimeGroup.

 

Q. Describe the physical office in Quito.

Elizabeth: Originally operating in a tiny office of about 500 square feet, we moved in 2015 into a 1,600 sqft office inside the Mariscal Sucre International Airport. But just this year, our recently expanded Administrative, Finance, Sales and Marketing team moved into a whole new area of 2,500 sqft and moved our operational team into a separate to 1,000 sqft space.

 

Q. In what ways is Quito different than Prime Group’s other station operations?

Elizabeth: UIO and BOG are similar in that we primarily focus on PrimeAir services, while LAX and JFK focus heavily on providing freight forwarding services, warehousing for perishable cargo, and distribution.

 

Q. Describe the makeup of the Quito team.

Elizabeth: We have a very experienced team of people here who are extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields – which is why our company is now known as one of the most respected in the market. The staff includes a general manager, sales director, operations manager, sales executives for each service, flight dispatchers, administrative and accounting agents, and operations and traffic supervisors and agents.

 

Q. What does the expansion mean in terms of efficiencies and accommodations?

Elizabeth: Well, more space is always good for a growing team of professionals. It allows us to be more focused and comfortable in what we do best – provide great service – not only to local cargo agencies but for all our customers.

 

Q. What’s it like with all the services of Prime Group now under one roof?

Elizabeth: Being part of the Prime Group is a challenge because we always have new projects and goals to fulfill, which makes our day-to-day work dynamic, but exciting at the same time

 

Q. What does the Quito market look like?

Elizabeth: It definitely looks challenging! Quito is a very dynamic in which you must have a finger on the pulse of the customer at all times, along with a real knowledge of handling flowers, fruits, and traditional commodities.

 

Q. Are the primary products that come through Quito?

Elizabeth: Actually, both Ecuador and Colombia have always been seen as the main producers and exporters of top quality roses, but over the years, the demand for other fresh and tropical flowers has blossomed, so to speak, as well as fresh fruit.

 

Q. How do you store, ship, and transport your product?

Elizabeth: Two words: cold chain. This is the main reason why our business is so successful. We have are able to maintain the required temperature at all transit points along the way, right up to delivery at the final destination. Coolers are waiting at the time of receipt of cargo, we’ve minimized time on ramp, carefully controlled temperatures in our freighters with latest technology, and again while in transit on the ground to final delivery. We are able to meet the high demands our customers search for.

 

Q. What’s the future of Prime Group in Quito?

Elizabeth: For 2019, it is the company’s desire to expand the portfolio of airlines we work with in order to expand into more markets in South America, Asia, and other U.S. cities and states.

 

Q. Tell us a about your experience working with the company.

Elizabeth: It has been an exceptionally rewarding experience serving with Prime Group. And a big responsibility leading PrimeAir in Ecuador and Colombia – firstly, because of my responsibilities to company leadership; and secondly, due to my commitment to my employees and their families. But of course the most important responsibility has been to meet and exceed the needs of the customer by providing top quality, efficient, professional service.

 

To reach Elizabeth Suarez, send an e-mail to esuarez@primeair.com.ec. The main point of contact for customers is Regional Sales Director José Luis at joseluis.suarez@primeair.aero.

Mother’s Day Every Day?

Some might say that every day is Mother’s Day, considering the everyday sacrifices women make for their families. But if that were the case, those of us in the business of transporting flowers would be very busy indeed.

The modern Mother’s Day that originated in the U.S. in the early 20th century initially involved wearing a white carnation for mom every year on the second Sunday of May. Since then, flowers have been inextricably linked to this holiday.

Motherhood is celebrated in many other parts of the world as well. Whether as International Women’s Day in Russia during the month of March, or coming up in late May as Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom, mother is almost universally honored with fresh cut flowers – or in the case of France, with flower-shaped cakes, too!

The worldwide demand for flowers is also driven by the fact that 20 percent of husbands give their wives flowers on Mother’s Day. It’s no wonder that Mother’s Day has blossomed into a major holiday that boasts a 1.9 billion a year flower expenditure.

A Budding Business

PrimeAir, a division of the Prime Group, is at the forefront of this logistics sector, ensuring that the most fresh and beautiful floral bouquets get into in the arms of loving mothers on their special day – and every day in between.

And although the peak Mother’s Day season just passed, PrimeAir continues to work with key customers such as Atlas Air, Emirates Sky Cargo, and about 750 flower importers and distributors in providing that important link between the source countries and the market.

Says Prime Group President Roger Paredes, “It is evident that the 2018 Mother’s Day season was highly successful, with record breaking volumes coming out of South America, especially Bogota and Quito.”

While the U.K. has yet to celebrate its annual Mother Day, the peak flower-shipping season is typically from the end of April to the first days of May.

Back in the Day

PrimeAir has a long history in the shipment of flowers. Paredes launched the company in 2001 in Ecuador representing several air cargo carriers involved in the transport of flowers from Quito.

“The expertise we gained in those early days, and have built upon, allows us to retain long-term customers while at the same time generate new business among companies. Especially those looking for the best in customer service, know-how, and logistical management of getting flowers to Miami and beyond.”

Flowers were always very important to PrimeAir. “Initially we supported operations between Quito and Miami only, but the exports just kept growing, so we soon entered the Amsterdam market,” says Paredes.

“As business continued to grow, we did too, by moving into Colombia, New York, and Los Angeles – pretty much following the flowers all over the world.”

Prime Air also services suppliers of other perishables product lines including as fresh produce and fish, but has also evolved into the shipment of a wide range of dry cargo, up to an including aircraft engines and heavy machinery.