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Constant growth epitomizes Advance Customs

By
Tim Linden

It will be 10 years in April since colleagues Patricia Compres and Maria Bermudez used their experience clearing agricultural products through customs to launch Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting LLC with its office in Miami.

Today the company still operates out of Miam but clears freight throughout the country.

“We’re continuing to grow every year,” said Bermudez.

“In the past year we have grown 10-12 percent,” said Compres, noting the company’s business has more than doubled since they started.

Bermudez added that they have more business, and for a variety of reasons it takes more time to handle each load. “All we can do is increase our staff,” she said. “We have doubled our business and it takes double the time to clear freight, so we have had to double our staff.”

But the two agree that it is a nice problem to have.  “Business is good,” said Bermudez. “People are buying more produce; consumption is up and imports are up.”

Compres noted that consumers appear to be drawn to products that have a great nutrition story to tell. “The increase in citrus imports has been crazy,” she said. “We’ve seen a 30 percent increase in citrus imports. They are coming from Peru, Chile, South Africa. Consumption is up. People want their vitamin C.”

Speaking specifically of asparagus in early September, the two customs brokers noted that Peruvian asparagus volume is starting to pick up and soon there will be hundreds of containers that have to clear customs from each ship. Bermudez said there are still major impacts from COVID-19 that are affecting the ports. “There are still labor issues,” she said. “Trucks are still a problem. It’s a domino effect. If there are not enough trucks (to move the product), it backs everything up.”

The pair explained that when there are not enough trucks to load and unload the items, it takes longer for each container to move through the fumigation process, which means it takes longer to clear a container. They added that shipments by ocean are getting the lion’s share of the asparagus business and that trend should continue.  It’s less expensive, there is more available space and the ocean voyage is taking a little more than half the time it did when they started in the business.

Bermudez indicated that Advance Customs Brokers is operating on all cylinders.  “There is a constant backlog of work,” said Bermudez. “We are at a moment when the work just keeps piling up, but we have a great team in place to handle it!”

Because they work so many ports, the two owner-partners are in an excellent position to rate the various ports. “New York is backing up; so is Savannah,” said Compres. “Philly is moving right along but Houston is beginning to pile up and so is Hueneme (Southern California).”

Advance Customs Brokers gives its highest praise to its home port of Miami. “Miami hasn’t skipped a beat,” Bermudez said. “They are doing a very good job.”

As the pair looks out at the horizon, they anticipate continuing to grow and continuing to grow their staff.  “We are in a good spot,” said Compres, “but we are coming to the point when we are going to have to hire a general manager.” Another nice issue to have, as it points to the great success the two customs brokers have achieved over the past dozen years building their company.

Tim Linden

Tim Linden

About Tim Linden  |  email

Tim Linden grew up in a produce family as both his father and grandfather spent their business careers on the wholesale terminal markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tim graduated from San Diego State University in 1974 with a degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter he began his career at The Packer where he stayed for eight years, leaving in 1983 to join Western Growers as editor of its monthly magazine. In 1986, Tim launched Champ Publishing as an agricultural publishing specialty company.

Today he is a contract publisher for several trade associations and writes extensively on all aspects of the produce business. He began writing for The Produce News in 1997, and currently wears the title of Editor at Large.

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