Prime Floral LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Prime, Inc. is readying operations for Mother’s Day deliveries. Formed in 2004, Prime Floral utilizes Prime’s existing fleet of approximately 3,300 reefer trailers with operations based in Miami, Wilsonville, OR, and Oxnard, CA.

During the busiest floral holidays-- Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day-- flower shipments by Prime Floral’s customer base of wholesalers triple to over 33 million. As of May 2005, there are some 24 employees, mainly administrative, dedicated solely to Prime Floral. The operation is responsible for moving more than 11 million flowers in an average week.

Utilizing Prime’s existing equipment has given Prime Floral a major logistical edge over its competitors, said Brad Quinn, Prime and Prime Floral— sales & marketing. This is apparent when Prime Floral calls Prime’s trailer resources in to handle the Mother’s Day rush, he said.

“Our success is attributed to the experienced help that came our way at the beginning to get us started,” Quinn told Fleet Owner. “Of course, having the capacity to handle shipments on a daily basis and being able to ramp up for the two major holidays was a factor— as well as having the financial support from our president to make this work.”

In the state of California alone, over a ten-day period leading up to this Mother’s Day, Prime Floral booked over 157 truckloads to be delivered to wholesalers as LTL-style shipments. Florida’s numbers are higher than that. “For example, a typical load out of California goes to from 10 to 25 different wholesale customers,” Quinn said. He added that each trailer will carry a full load of live freight.

“From a capacity standpoint, equipment-wise we create a deeper focus into our customer base into booking more loads in the key locations,” he said. “We also institute a holiday surcharge to help [balance] the financial ramifications. We know there will be deadhead trucks. But Prime is committed to covering the extra business by deadheading our trucks even 1,500 miles to ensure the capacity to cover these flowers.

“(Before Prime Floral) we participated in the hauling of flowers seasonally on Valentine’s and Mother’s Day through a brokerage type of an arrangement,” Quinn continued. “We saw the possible financial gains that could be created for our company and our owner-operators and we thought this could be advantageous since we’re looking for better and higher paying freight.”

Through Prime Floral, Prime seeks to gain more profitability in the tough Florida market, said Quinn, particularly because of deadhead miles. “It’s difficult to reload every truck out of Florida with a high-paying revenue load,” he said. “There’s not much freight in Florida and it’s very competitive and very low-paying.

“Miami has always been a soft spot for Prime, and for trucking in general, for being able to reload trucks in that area and to generate new business,” Quinn added. “Flowers are another revenue source for getting our trucks into Miami with good rates.”