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Advance Custom Brokers continues to grow business

Five years ago — after a three-year hiatus — custom brokers Maria Bermudez and Pat Compres got back in the business with Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting, based in Miami, FL, and they report that business is better than ever.

“I am surprised how quickly we were able to get the business back,” said Bermudez. “We are back to where we were and more.”

Adavnce-CustomsMaria Bermudez and Pat Compres.The firm’s co-founder did credit “our great team and dedicated staff” for the rapid growth. “They take care of everything so we can concentrate on customer relations, which is how it should be.”

In late August, she said asparagus imports were a bit slower than last year, but she anticipated that business would soon pick up mirroring the ramp up in harvest in Peru. This season, Bermudez is expecting more asparagus to be shipped via boat than in previous years because of the rising costs of freight. “Air freight rates are on the rise,” she said. “It is expected but we are not happy about it.”

Bermudez said it is the air freight rates that dictate which mode of transportation is used. As those rates climb, importers and shippers predictably switch to the lower cost ocean liner mode of transportation when possible. From a customs point of view, she said it makes no difference. The paperwork is the same. In fact, Bermudez said Advance Customs Brokers handles income freight in ports all over the United States and said its immaterial whether you are on site or not.

“There is freight before 9/11 and post 9/11,” she said. “After 9/11 it got more complicated but it doesn’t make any difference if you are on site or not because you can no longer be there for inspections. Paperwork is all handled by computers and phones.”

Speaking specifically about Peruvian asparagus, Bermudez said one factor that may make a difference this season is the ongoing discussion about eliminating the need to fumigate the grass before it is allowed into U.S. commerce. That will simplify the process and make it easier.”

However, Bermudez, who is the CFO for Advance Customs Brokers, was not holding her breath that these discussions will be fruitful. “They have been going on for 15 years without a resolution,” she said.