“I never thought I’d be driving a truck,” said Lazaro Ramos, president and co-owner of Lazaro Delivery Corp., a Miami-based trucking company that is part of the enormous logistics network serving the exporters, importers, freight forwarders, airports and seaports in South Florida.
Ramos, an attorney, and his wife, Marlene Perez, an economist who is vice president and co-owner of the company, left Cuba for Miami in the early 1990s.
“We came here out of necessity and we had to struggle, like everyone else who came here from Cuba,” Ramos said.
The Cuban-trained attorney’s first job in Miami was working in a cafeteria. After saving a little money, he and his wife rented a food truck for $300 a week and visited construction sites all over the city. Both the attorney and the economist quickly learned the skills of driving a truck in the confusing city that was their new home.
In the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the couple rose before dawn to stock up the rented food truck and feed hungry workers at the construction and cleanup areas that mushroomed throughout Miami, returning home (they were staying with Perez’s family) after dark. “We drove around so much that we sometimes didn’t know where we were,” Ramos said.
Ramos worked briefly for a company that moved electronic equipment from warehouses to flights leaving MIA after midnight. Later, he saw classified ads in the Miami Herald seeking delivery truck drivers and, in 1995, bought a used box truck and began trying to line up customers.
But starting out was not easy since he was not familiar with the intricacies of the commercial trucking business and international trade. “I was very much a novice,” Ramos said. “But with the help of clients who knew me when I was transporting electronic equipment, I got some contracts, picking up merchandise at MIA and delivering it to warehouses and other customers. People saw we were responsible and responded by offering more work. We earned a reputation for fast and reliable service.”
As business grew, Ramos acquired a used van, which his wife drove, other used box trucks and hired drivers. “We worked very, very hard,” Perez said. “Lazaro got back get from making deliveries at 2 a.m. and got up to start working again at 5,” she said.
Aside from driving and sharing administrative duties with her husband, Perez would also do the small company’s accounting from their home office while raising a family. “I’d get to sleep every other night,” she said.
Their hard work paid off. “We celebrated our 20th anniversary in business last November,” Perez said. “We still have clients who were with us when we started.”
The family-owned company the couple founded in 1995 today operates a fleet of 80 trucks, including tractor-trailers, box trucks and vans. Sixty-five belong to Lazaro Delivery and the other 15 are operated (with the Lazaro livery) by their owners. The company, which is in the process of purchasing the two acres of land at Northwest 63rd Street where their headquarters are located, has 90 employees, including full-time and contract workers. The couple’s children and Perez’s sister are also part of the Lazaro workforce.
“We decided to buy the land since it’s an excellent location,” Ramos said. “It’s in Doral, close to MIA and all the freight forwarders and other companies we work with have operations around here.”
Lazaro Delivery picks up and delivers large and small cargo, parcels and documents for customers throughout South Florida. Working seven days a week and covering all the airports and seaports in the tri-county area, Lazaro retrieves imports, handles inbound cargo clearance and delivers merchandise for export, including refrigerated cargo, hazardous materials, bonded merchandise and high-value shipments. The firm offers express service for time-critical shipments.
The company’s motto says they are the “founders of last-mile logistics,” meaning that Lazaro makes the last, essential connections for exporters and importers.
Lazaro Delivery serves a wide range of clients, including small and large businesses, freight forwarders and large logistics companies. For example, the company has been moving freight for Panalpina, the global Swiss logistics company, for the last seven years.
Much of the company’s work involves transporting electronic equipment, clothing, spare parts and other equipment from MIA to warehouses or directly to other customers. The company also transfers merchandise for major airlines.
Growing the trucking business is not a simple proposition, Ramos said. A new tractor the company recently bought cost $189,000 and each trailer costs $32,000. “In this business, you have to keep investing to grow, and that’s what we’ve done ever since we started.”
How does a mid-sized company like Lazaro Delivery compete successfully in Miami’s huge international trade sector, where there are many hundreds of trucking companies?
“The keys are honesty, responsibility and service,” Ramos said.
“We deliver on what we promise. In the 20 years we’ve been in business, we’ve never lost a shipment.”
Lazaro Delivery Corp.
Business: Lazaro Delivery moves large and small cargo, parcels and documents for clients in the tri-county area. It picks up and delivers shipments for businesses throughout the region. It also retrieves imports and delivers merchandise for export at all the seaports and airports in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Working seven days a week, the family-owned company has a fleet of tractor-trailers, mid-sized box trucks and vans. Lazaro Delivery handles bonded merchandise, refrigerated cargo, small packages, documents and high-value shipments, providing express service for time-critical shipments.
Founded: In 1995 by Lazaro Ramos and his wife, Marlene Perez.
Headquarters: 7451 NW 63rd St., Miami.
Management: Lazaro Ramos, president, and Marlene Perez, vice president.
Employees: 90, including administrative and warehouse employees, as well as full-time and contract drivers.
Customers: Small and large businesses, warehouse operators and global logistics companies like Panalpina.
Ownership: Owned by the founders.
Source: Lazaro Delivery