Barbara Pimentel: Leads Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association
Barbara Pimentel has been involved in the logistics industry 37 years, starting clearing out old Customs files before eventually becoming one of the first women warehouse managers. She takes pride in being a “glass ceiling breaker” and advocates that anything is possible for women in a male-dominated industry if they are determined.
When Ms. Pimentel was 10 months old, her family and others fled Cuba on a 21-foot boat that began taking on water mid-ocean. Miraculously, they were rescued by a Haitian freighter that spotted them. Upon boarding the transatlantic freighter, they discovered that it was transporting bananas. Now, because of that experience, she jokes that she actually got her start in the industry when she was in diapers.
“I’ve never said no to anything,” Ms. Pimentel said. She’s always accepted any challenge, and says titles mean nothing to her. Whether it’s handling day-to-day operations or managing a warehouse, she said that experiences mean nothing unless they’re learned from.
Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association, FCBF for short, represents the state in any matters related to trade and logistics. With 600 members worldwide and only three staff, the organization relies mostly on volunteer board members who chair committees. FCBF works with the 49 federal agencies that regulate the trade and logistics industry and serves as a conduit for its members, which are mostly small to medium-sized enterprises.
The intricacies of the industry are more complex than most people can imagine, Ms. Pimentel said, and the expertise that brokers – who deal with imports – and forwarders – who deal with exports – provide are vital to businesses. Any wrong move can result in penalties and fees, some of which can be in the thousands of dollars and can shut down a business quickly.
Miami Today reporter Camila Cepero interviewed Ms. Pimentel in her office at FCBF headquarters in Doral.
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