The idea came to Desmond Falla during a construction job at the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados.
His freight forwarding company, DRT International, had been hired to supervise construction logistics, but the staff soon realized that dealing with dozens of vendors and juggling several purchasing orders extended well beyond traditional freight forwarding.
"Our job became to expedite the purchase order, load the goods, bring them to Barbados, clear customs, bring them to the site, coordinate with the hotel team ...," he recalls of the ordeal. "And when vendors didn't work with us, it was very difficult to find other ways to cut the deadlines down and still deliver for the soft opening."
From the strained - but successful - Barbados project emerged Falla's concept for ShopUST, a turnkey freight forwarding service that not only ships the product, but also manages the procurement process from order to delivery.
The concept, he said, is rooted in the idea that freight forwarders often get blamed for delays caused by vendors and others in the shipping process. Customers don't care why a product is delayed; they just want their merchandise. If the freight forwarder is the closest target, then the freight forwarder will be blamed.
So, he thought, why not use the vendors he could vet and streamline the whole process? Falla now works with a network of preferred vendors from 65 countries to ensure that when a customer places an order through ShopUST.com, the product will be delivered promptly and correctly.
"A lot of times, freight forwarders will get pushed into a corner and have to turn things around quickly because they had been let down by suppliers," he said. "Seeing these delays were happening all the time and knowing we have 13 years of experience in this industry, we came up with ShopUST.com."
Falla said he carefully selects each vendor based on their performance history, and constantly updates his vendor list to weed out those who are not performing to standards. Vendors know ShopUST.com is taking the risk of performing for the client, so they are more willing to work with the company and keep prices low.
Andrea Calcagno, principal of Hallandale Beach-based design firm Calc Design, has worked with DRT International and now works with ShopUST.com. Calcagno, who helps the company with hospitality and construction projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, said she is well acquainted with the problems of working with a long supply chain.
"One of the benefits of ShopUST doing everything in house is that, instead of ordering from 20 or 30 different companies, they narrow it down to just a few manufacturers," she said. "Things tend to run a little smoother and faster."
Customers also appreciate that they're dealing with one company instead of navigating a supply chain to figure out what happened to their product. Pierre Rousseau, director of Caribbean operations for Boyken International, said Falla's company goes an extra mile - or two - to make sure his products make it to their destination. He remembers a time when Falla personally delivered two brand new Range Rovers from a dealer in Fort Lauderdale to the Port of Miami so they could make a sailing for Anguilla the next day.
"I use them and recommend them because they are always available and they always deliver what they promise," he said. "They literally make my job that much easier because I know that it is one less thing for me to worry about."
President: Desmond Falla
2196 N.W. 89th Place, Doral 33172
Phone: (305) 889-3347