Business Monday

Tran Logistics: a small Miami-based company with a global reach

Lily Tran, chief executive officer of Tran Logistics, at her headquarters in Brickell Key, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.
Lily Tran, chief executive officer of Tran Logistics, at her headquarters in Brickell Key, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Miami’s Tran Logistics LLC exists today because the international trade sector offered Lily Tran a job before Broadway producers or casting directors did.

After earning a degree in marketing and theater in Iowa in 1998, Tran moved to New York City to begin her career as an actor. “I wanted to work in acting, to be on the stage,” said Tran, the founder, owner and CEO of Tran Logistics.

“But I needed to pay my bills while I pursued a career on Broadway, so I took a job in sales in the freight forwarding industry. Needless to say, it was love at first career. Here I am, 17 years later in the same business.”

While working as the business manager of a large freight forwarding firm, Tran moved to Miami in 2002. “I saw the opportunities here for international business and future growth,” Tran said, and decided to stay.

The Vietnam-born businesswoman grew up in an entrepreneurial family in Iowa, and began working in her family’s retail and trading businesses when she was 14. “I was accustomed to hard work, dedication to a job and had a strong work ethic. I knew how logistics worked and was not afraid to leave an 8-5 job and start my own business.”

So in 2003, using her contacts and experience in freight forwarding and international trade, Tran set up her own small logistics business. She attended conferences on contracting with the U.S. military and government agencies, traveled to network throughout the U.S. and overseas, obtained qualification for bidding on government contracts, and developed relationships with other firms she works with in the trade and logistics sector, such as trucking companies and warehouse operators.

Tran Logistics today, a woman-owned, minority-owned small business, has customers that include private companies in the aerospace and maritime sectors, as well as U.S. government agencies like the Department of Defense. Tran’s company handles exports and imports, moving oversized cargo like aircraft engines, satellite equipment, heavy vehicles and equipment, as well as myriad parts and other supplies, offering service to more than 200 cities, she said.

It transports supplies for disaster relief, and made shipments to Haiti after its devastating earthquake, to victims of Hurricane Sandy and aided after other disasters.

For competitive reasons, Tran did not want to reveal the names of her private-sector clients or other details about her contracts.

Tran uses her international experience to work with the resources of other local and foreign companies plus agents and vendors overseas to provide air, sea and overland freight services; inbound and outbound logistics; customs documentation; warehousing, distribution and security.

Like many other South Florida logistics companies, Tran Logistics is a third-party logistics provider (called 3PL or TPL in the trade), a firm that provides part or all the services a client requires for transporting, storing, exporting, importing, distributing and delivering products within their supply chain. 3PLs may own and operate warehouse facilities, but many — like Tran Logistics — use public warehouse facilities owned or leased by others as part of their service package.

Tran, who grew up in the United States, obtained her degree in marketing and theater in 1998 from Iowa State University. Her company grew in 2014 and 2015 as it acquired additional government contracts, and Tran expects continued growth this year.

Handling shipments for the U.S. government often requires special skills and equipment, Tran said. “For example, we transport multimillion-dollar aircraft engines and parts, and provide door-to-door service,” Tran said. “It’s not as simple as shipping a box with a courier service. Handling these engines requires experience, knowledge of the equipment and a proper operations team to manage the shipment.”

Her team must know the size, weight and other information about the engine; ensure that the aircraft or seagoing vessels transporting these shipments have the proper equipment and space for loading/unloading and storage, and that all customs documents are properly prepared for import/export regulations here and at the shipment’s destination. They also must make sure that the engines are transported on the right type of air-ride trucks to and from air and seaports.

In addition, Tran’s company must make sure that partners/agents receiving expensive exports from Miami are properly trained and equipped to receive, transport and deliver shipments in the host nations.

“Technology and experience give us the ability to manage and operate all our logistics services from one location — Miami,” Tran said.

To compete effectively in Miami’s giant trade and logistics community, Tran Logistics offers a combination of experience and personal service.

“It all comes down to our reputation — based on our many years of experience, our knowledge and first-class service anywhere in the world,” Tran said.

“I make myself available to my clients all the time. Once we accept a project, I personally make sure the client receives only the best service from start to finish.”

The writer can be reached at

Tran Logistics

Business: Tran Logistics LLC is a logistics company based in Miami. Despite being a small business, Tran Logistics has an international reach and an impressive record of working with private clients and agencies of the U.S. government. The firm provides air, sea and overland freight services, customs documentation, warehousing, distribution and other services through the company’s network of domestic and international agents and suppliers. Owned and run by a professional with many years of experience in freight forwarding and international business, Tran Logistics offers a full range of trade-related services and personal contact with clients around the clock.

Founded: In 2003 by Lily Tran.

Headquarters: 808 Brickell Key Dr., Suite 2206, Miami.

CEO and owner: Lily Tran.

Employees: From five to 50, depending on work volume. The firm has five full-time employees and hires experienced part-time and contract workers when needed.

Customers: Aerospace and maritime companies, clients shipping oversized loads, and agencies of the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense.


Source: Tran Logistics