Miami-based Interport Logistics imports pallets of liquid chemicals from Switzerland that give new jeans the “stone-washed” look, stores the bulky liquids until they’re needed, and ships them to customers in Latin America.
The company picks up a batch of school uniforms in Guatemala in the morning for a Miami uniform supplier who is a customer, flies them to Miami International Airport, rushes the merchandise through customs and re-ships them to schools throughout the U.S. within 24 hours.
It has arranged moving a helicopter by land and sea from Illinois to Chile, sent medical supplies from Miami to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and handled the shipping of a LaFerrari, a limited-edition Ferrari hybrid priced at over $1 million.
Interport Logistics is the principal unit of the Interport Group, which provides global freight-forwarding services for air and ocean cargo, domestic and international warehousing and distribution, customs brokerage, supply-chain services and trade-related consulting. It is one player in the huge network of trade-related companies that support more than $100 billion in exports and imports moving through South Florida’s seaports and airports and tens of thousands of jobs.
“Interport provides a full set of supply-chain management services to manufacturing and distribution companies,” said Gary Goldfarb, Interport’s chief strategy officer, a veteran in international trade and logistics and co-chair of the Beacon Council’s Trade and Logistics Committee. “We move merchandise from about 25 trailers a day in and out of our warehouse and can ship items for our customers quickly, saving them time and money, handling storage, packing, shipping, customs and all the steps in the supply chain for them.”
“Many of our customers use us as their warehouse, and don’t need to invest in setting up their own warehouse facilities and paying for staff,” Goldfarb said.
Interport receives tons of merchandise from all over the world for clients who are distribution companies, electronically scans and stores it, then processes and ships orders to their customers as needed, said Goldfarb, standing aside in a warehouse aisle as one of the fleet of Bendi forklifts moved by.
Unlike traditional forklifts that can only move their loads up and down, Interport’s natural gas- or battery-powered Bendis, which cost about $150,000 each, can also move loads sideways, allowing them to turn sharp corners, work in narrower aisles, and get to tight spots others can’t reach. This means the Interport warehouse can store more material in less space than a traditional warehouse, which requires wider aisles between storage racks.
A privately owned company, Interport logged revenues of $26 million in 2014 and expects to reach $31 million in 2015.
The company has a 150,000-square-foot warehouse and headquarters in Miami, as well as other warehouses in Los Angeles, Central America and the Caribbean and offices in other parts of the region. Its staff processes about 1,500 transactions a day — including imports, exports, storage processing and fulfilling orders for customers.
Interport last year moved from Doral to its current location on Northwest 25th Street west of Florida’s Turnpike, where there is less traffic congestion and good access to MIA and the Port of Miami.
It has 79 employees in Miami, and more than 20 at other locations. “We started with two employees in 2000,” said Alberto J. Mariño Sr., Interport’s president, CEO and founder.
Born in Santiago de Cuba, Mariño went to high school in Connecticut and received a degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans. He came to Miami in 1963 from New Orleans, worked for a freight forwarder and become one of the first licensed customs brokers in South Florida. He had run another successful logistics company — Almar, which he started in 1970 and sold in 2000 — before setting up Interport.
What has been behind Interport’s success? The company lined up high-volume, long-term clients — like Orgill, the world’s largest independently owned hardware distributor, Simán department stores in Central America and Miami-based Jademar Corp., a major suppler of electric and lighting equipment, Mariño said.
These companies and scores of others target key markets Interport serves in Central America, the Caribbean and beyond, providing a robust flow of warehouse, logistics and shipping business.
Interport also invested steadily in technology, equipment, sales and customer service, Mariño said.
A recent investment in the Caribbean provided a big boost to the company. Following years of steady growth, Interport decided to expand its presence in Central America and the Caribbean. Its most dramatic move was acquiring a shipping firm in Aruba about two years ago. The island nation relies heavily on imported goods, and Interport’s shipments to this tourist destination near Venezuela’s coast sharply increased, driving company revenues from $19 million in 2013 to $26 million in 2014.
“What happened to our sales?” Mariño asked. “Aruba happened.”
“We already have a strong base of some 200 client companies,” said José de Vivero, the vice president of operations, a graduate of Barry University and a former executive at Golden Eagle, a Miami logistics company. “And we are now looking at more alternatives for expansion in the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Moreover, while many companies routinely refer to customer service as their primary goal, Mariño actually built Interport on personal service. There is a poster at the entrance to Interport’s offices that Mariño originally wrote many years ago. Essentially, it says “Because of the customer, we exist.”
“A lot of companies talk about customer service,” Mariño said. “We mean it. The big boys in logistics aren’t competition for us. That’s because we give the best personal service to our customers, and the others don’t.
“Call one of them at 5 p.m. and no one’s there, and you talk to a machine. Customers who have a problem can call me on my cell anytime … it’s on my business cards. I’ll take the call and handle the problem. That makes a difference,” he said.
One of Interport’s largest clients, Miami-based Jademar, confirms this dedication to service. Family-owned Jademar has been doing business with the company since the early 2000s, when it made a major strategic decision, opting to move its warehouse to Interport’s warehouse.
In business for more than six decades, Jademar has lighting and electrical equipment manufactured at 30 different factories in China under its own private labels and sells a wide range of finished and intermediate products to distributors, manufacturers and do-it-yourself centers in the Caribbean, Central America and in some parts of the U.S.
“We share our warehouse with Interport,” said Joe deMartino, Jademar’s president. “They receive our containers from overseas — up to 75 per year — and pick and pack the items we need to ship to our customers. This is a real benefit to us, since we don’t have to lease a warehouse or staff it with personnel. We have a designated number of aisles and pay for the space and the services Interport provides,” he said.
Interport receives, stores and classifies thousands of different Jademar items, packing and shipping the goods when customer orders arrive. All this represents significant cost savings on warehouse space, equipment and employees. Jademar also has offices and a showroom at Interport’s headquarters.
“This is better than securing a five- or 10-year lease on an entire warehouse, since with Interport, I can ratchet the space I use up or down depending on my business,” said deMartino. He had worked with Interport’s vice president of operations and partner, José de Vivero, while an executive at Golden Eagle and later followed him to Interport.
When Jademar was planning to move from its own warehouse, it looked at what other companies could offer.
“We shopped around, but we were not just looking for the best price … we wanted a long-term relationship, a company that was willing to provide the best services,” the Jademar president said. “We decided we would be in the best hands with them, and today we see that some of the other companies we considered would not have worked out. We give Interport all A’s.”
But other logistics companies in Miami also handle large volumes of merchandise, ship it all over the world and work to satisfy their customers. Why is Interport any different? Because of the experience of its senior management team.
Mariño, for example, has worked in the trade sector for over a half century. And Interport’s vice president of sales, Jorge deTuya, began his freight-forwarding career in 1959 in Havana with his father’s company, Tuya Cuban Express. He obtained certification as a customs broker from the Cuban government in 1959, came to Miami in 1960 and, with his brother, Oscar, started Tuya International Corp., a freight forwarding firm.
DeTuya obtained another customs broker’s license in Miami, then set up a brokerage company. He later sold his companies to a Swiss firm and moved to an executive position at Golden Eagle.
De Vivero, Interport’s vice president of operations, is originally from Colombia. With 28 years of experience in international trade, he started his career exporting mining supplies to Bolivia and later became vice president of operations at Golden Eagle.
All three are partners in Interport, and Mariño and deTuya are members of the Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association Hall of Fame.
Goldfarb, originally from Peru, started working in Miami’s international trade sector in 1974. He was a founder and CEO of Golden Eagle, which was sold in 1998. Before joining Interport last year, Goldfarb was executive vice president at WTDC, a Miami-based logistics company.
“The Interport team are pioneers in Miami’s international trade,” said Goldfarb, also a member of the FCBF Hall of Fame. “And Jorge [deTuya], José [deVivero] and I are all veterans of Golden Eagle.
“At Interport, experience abounds.”
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business: Interport Group provides global freight forwarding services (air and ocean cargo), warehousing and distribution, customs brokerage, logistics and trade-related consulting. Founded on the principle that Interport would offer the “personal touch” to all its customers, the company serves clients in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean and has expanded its reach to Europe and Asia. Its four senior executives rank among the pioneers in South Florida’s international trade sector, with more than 150 years of experience among them.
Headquarters: 12950 NW 25th St., Miami
Facilities: Miami warehouse and offices (150,000 square feet), warehouses in Los Angeles, Central America and the Caribbean and offices in other parts of the region.
Founder: Alberto J. Mariño Sr.
Senior management: Alberto J. Mariño Sr., president and CEO; Jorge R. de Tuya, vice president of sales; José de Vivero, vice president of operations; Gary Goldfarb, chief strategy officer.
Employees: More than 100, with 79 in Miami.
Revenues: $26 million in 2014.
Ownership: Privately held by Mariño Sr., de Tuya, de Vivero and other investors.