Patricia Compres has been in the fresh produce industry for over 30 years and has been a licensed customs broker since 1986. She started out importing coconuts, papayas and pineapple from the Dominican Republic and later cleared cargo in-house for a produce importer for several years. In 1989, Pat opened Customized Brokers, Inc. (CB) drawing on her experience as an importer to anticipate her clients' needs. With her signature bold strategy to clear clients' cargo as fast as possible, CB quickly grew and garnered attention.
Maria Bermudez joined Pat in 1992, bringing with her a fresh eye and her mathematical precision. After they joined forces, CB became the largest perishables broker in Florida, and one of the top three in the nation. At CB, Pat and Maria cleared a wide variety of perishable cargo from all over the world, including melons from Guatemala, pineapples from Central America, avocados, blueberries, asparagus and citrus from Peru, fruits and avocados from Chile and citrus from South Africa and Spain.
Not only did Pat and Maria focus on getting cargo to their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, they influenced the industry with their innovative ideas. They introduced a price-per-box strategy for asparagus importers and were the first to adopt remote clearance. Because of their close involvement in the industry, Pat and Maria, together with trade legal firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, lobbied Congress on behalf of importers when Congress sought to institute FDA Prior Notice. They successfully persuaded the FDA to make changes to reduce the burden of the Prior Notice rules on importers.
After selling CB in 2008, Pat and Maria took on their first personal consulting project in 2012, consulting for a major port with respect to changes to improve its inspection and customer services department. In 2013, Pat and Maria opened Advance Customs Brokers to bring back their renowned services in customs clearance. With ever-changing government regulations, they are on the forefront of issues, attending meetings with government agencies, trade groups and committees. They hold periodic workshops and discussions and send crucial advisories addressing critical subjects such as FSMA, FSVP, treatment fees, pre-clearance, CBP/USDA overtime, cold treatment and fumigation.