by AIR CARGO WORLD
by The Miami Herald
Liaison Can./U.S. Logistics Inc.’s Fleet of Refrigerated Trucks is Dominating the Perishable Goods Market and Leading with the Pharma Industry
by Boss Magazine
“Thirty years in business is a milestone for Can-US. It’s been a long road, we’ve been around the block, and we’ve changed our perspectives over the years. And throughout that, there has been one component that has kept us on a successful path: Liaison values, to the highest regard, its staff.”
George Shoif, the Vice President of Business Development at Liaison Can./U.S. Logistics Inc., knows how to give credit where credit is due. Although much of our conversation with him revolved around new strategies and technologies, he always traced the success of those strategies right back to the company’s employees.
Liaison Can./U.S. Logistics Inc.’s strong decades-long history of transporting goods over the Canadian/U.S. border has led the company to establish a new headquarters in Miami, Florida. With a large investment into technology such as temperature regulated trucks and this new location in the U.S.’s South, Liaison has opened the doors to several new markets in the supply chain and logistics industry.
“We hit profitability just 10 months after establishing our new U.S. headquarters. We came in focused and ready to collaborate, and because of that synergy we’re seeing great success,” said Luis Perez- Codina, Companies VP of Marketing and Commercialization.
Perishable goods make up the majority of the company’s business, and have since it was founded. However, the marketplace is entirely different today. From a time when produce was mostly grown and distributed locally to the farm-to-fork trends of today, the freshness of the product is key as it is shipped further and further from where it’s grown.
“Our technology allows us to cut down on transit time, increase traceability, and continually maintain quality during transit,” shared Pérez-Codina. “Our customers can see the temperature of their shipment, as well as other real-time updates and analytics.”
Recently, Liaison Can./U.S. Logistics Inc. has applied its new technology—specifically its refrigerated fleet—and decades-old technology to a new market: pharmaceuticals. Many medications have to be transported at a very specific temperature. Where perishables might have a five to ten degree wiggle room, depending on the product, some medicines can only be effective if kept in a one or two degree range. With many of the same requirements between perishable goods like food and pharmaceuticals, Liaison had to do surprisingly little before taking on their first pharma contract.
“Medical providers are not expecting a transporter to have these capabilities prior to requesting them,” shared Shoif. “It hasn’t been a hard sell. We’ve approached a few providers to get a foundation in the industry, and the response has been overwhelming. There are a lot of challenges that come with the new marketplace, but we are overcoming them with confidence and determination.”
Liaison’s Miami headquarters has provided the company with a new potential channel for revenue—a fresh produce division. The company is now purchasing and selling fruits sourced from the United States and Latin America. These perishables make their way—via Liaison’s refrigerated trucks, of course—all the way to Montreal.
“When we started to research this as a viable business model for Liaison, we realized that five or six different companies can touch a box of produce before it gets to its final destination. We are eliminating the numbers of handlers. It’s definitely a niche right now. We’re effectively cutting out the middle man.”
This is a perfect reflection of what sets Liaison apart from its competitors—the company has never compared itself to others in the field, and it’s not going to start anytime soon.
“We’ve always measured ourselves to our own standards,” George Shoif said. “We have a business model that works for our customers and that they appreciate. We provide a personal approach on a continual basis, and we’ll continue to see success because of this.”
BY JOSEPH A. MANN JR.
Special to the Miami Herald
A Montreal-based courier company that got its start 30 years ago by shipping parcels to Vermont has grown into an
international trucking firm with routes covering Canada and 48 states.
Now Liaison CAN/US Logistics Inc. has opened its U.S. headquarters in Miami — next to Miami International Airport.
The plan is to position the company for building new routes and generating new business carrying perishable foods
from Latin America, products from Florida’s agricultural sector, pharmaceuticals and other products.
In addition, when new, larger cargo vessels begin moving through an expanded Panama Canal to PortMiami, the
company expects an increase in seaborne international freight.
Seeing these opportunities for expansion, the Canadian company has placed a big bet on Miami. Last year, Liaison
opened its U.S. subsidiary — Liaison CAN/US Logistics (USA) Corp. — and is investing millions of dollars in new
refrigerated trucks equipped with satellite-tracking equipment, new drivers, as well as sales, marketing and
administrative employees here.
“We’ve been doing business in Florida for 10 years and already have 45 trucks a week moving between Canada and
Florida,” said George Shoif, the Miami-based vice president for business development at Liaison CAN/US Logistics
(USA) Corp., the U.S. subsidiary.
“We’re not here for two or three years — we’re looking at the future,” Shoif said.
Today, the parent company operates a fleet of about 150 tractors and 200 trailers, transporting baked goods, fruit,
vegetables, meat, fish, pharmaceuticals and other items.
On an annual basis, Liaison transports about 75 million pounds of freight on the route between Florida and Canada
As part of its plan, Liaison is building a locally based fleet of trucks that is expected to reach 25 by year’s end. A new
tractor-trailer unit costs about $150,000.
It also is increasing the local workforce from six people to 25 or 30. Most of the new hires will be drivers, who are
in short supply nationwide.
“We want licensed drivers who are based in South Florida and know the area,” said Luis Pérez-Codina, the
Miami-based vice president of marketing and commercialization.
A big investment like Liaison’s at a time of economic uncertainty is risky, said an expert in trucking and freight
movement, but it could pay off down the road.
“The freight market as a whole has been a bit sluggish this year,” said Neil Abt, editorial director of Transport Topics,
a publication specializing in trucking and freight transportation.
For Florida and PortMiami, any big movement would probably be related to the Panama Canal expansion.
“Making an expansion right now — even as the economy is a little uncertain — is telling me that the reasoning behind
a new investment will be to take advantage of opportunities that will open up going forward,” Abt said.
“If you are a mid-sized company, already have some pretty good business relationships and are comfortable operating
in this uncertain environment, it might be a good time to give it a go. There’s always going to be freight to move, and a bold initiative now can put you ahead of the curve.”
Liaison’s current operations in Florida include a 50-50 split between domestic and international business. For instance,
company trucks pick up shipments of cut flowers and other perishables at MIA, tropical plants, fruits, vegetables and
peat moss at farms or regional storage centers, and deliver them to northern and western states, as well as to Canada.
Trucks coming to Florida from Canada carry baked goods, meat and other products. Liaison delivers to wholesale
businesses, warehouses, retail chains and other logistics companies across the U.S. and Canada.
Liaison clients interviewed by the Miami Herald said the company is reliable and on time, whether they’re moving
plants to Montreal or picking up canned foods in California.
Homestead-based Costa Farms, a major grower and supplier of indoor and outdoor tropical plants, uses Liaison and
other trucking companies to deliver its merchandise. “We ship all over the U.S. and to Canada, and we’ve been working
with Liaison for nine years,” said Kiki Buigas, key account manager at Costa Farms.
The plants need to be carried in temperature-controlled trucks, picked up on time and delivered according to
schedule or they die.
Some trucking firms Costa tried didn’t work out. “Liaison is very reliable — we’ve built a relationship with them, and
we’ve had no problems.”
Matt Montford, director of transport at States Logistics, a large logistics firm in California, said his company has been
working with Liaison for over five years, moving mostly packaged food products.
They pick up and deliver on time, critical elements in freight transport.
“They make us look good,” Montford said.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.