A cornerstone of any successful enterprise, a streamlined logistics solution is a much sought-after facet of modern day business and if you’re not currently using Vieira Inc., you might not be working with the best. Endeavour Magazine spoke with Kent Vieira, company MD, to find out how him and his team seek to do much more than getting your goods from A to B.
There was a time when the businesses you wanted to deal with were all family operations, run by a close-knit team of genuinely invested professionals, but the decline of this kind of set-up has made the few that remain absolutely worth their weight in gold. Vieira Inc. (VI), is one such operation, having been founded by Heidi Vieira; an inspiring leader, whose passion and influence can still be felt today.
Having worked tirelessly to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to provide reliable freight and logistics services throughout Trinidad, Heidi sadly passed away on 2004, leaving the company to her beloved family members, to carry on her amazing work,
“Even though Heidi’s time with us was shortened, her legacy and values live on today in the manner in which Vieira Inc. continues to do business and deliver services of the highest quality. Heidi was all peace and love to all, which was responsible for her success. Her love extended not only to her family but to all who became involved in her life.”
You might be tarnished by the modern condition of cynicism, but having spoken to Kent Vieira, Heidi’s brother and now, MD of the company, we can confirm that family is everything and we’re not talking about blood. Discussing how a sense of personal connection permeates the day-to-day running and interactions of VI, Kent commented that,
“We are a family company and that closeness forms our philosophy and impacts on the way we work with clients and our employees. Absolutely everyone is considered to be part of the Vieira Inc. family.”
With a firm belief that nothing is impossible, VI is bringing ambition, creativity and unique problem solving techniques back into the logistics industry, thanks to their two main branches of cargo and vessel operations. Kent noted that,
“We can offer a novel opportunity to our clients in that we can efficiently tackle freight, customs and shipping agency needs. We also offer meet and greet services and a whole suite of services regarding inland transport as well. We satisfy every need of our customers, so they can focus on their core business.”
Offering a ‘door-to-door’ service with their cargo operations, clients really can sit back and focus on their own business interests, safe in the knowledge that VI is taking care of international freight forwarding, cargo handling, customs brokerage, inland transportation and even extra services, such as export packing and crating. Add to this, a comprehensive vessel operations unit, which offers a one-stop vessel husbandry service, and you have the makings of a logistics company that puts the passion back into planning.
Operating primarily in Trinidad, collaborations with customs brokerage companies in Grenada, Barbados and Guyana are all indicative of a move to enjoy more international appeal and even a downturn in the sector hasn’t quashed future ambitions,
“In Trinidad, the industry is not buoyant at the moment, due to the low oil price. This affects not only the oil industry, but also domestic trade, due to the lack of foreign exchange. There is a lot of competition, as there are many other companies offering some of the services which we do and quite a few of them have chosen to form partnerships in order to corner the market, but we have a zero tolerance stance when it comes to our code of ethics and legislation compliance, which sadly, can be an obstacle in this industry.”
With such a powerful moral compass guiding VI, choosing its staff must be a tricky process. Obviously, it needs people who are willing to commit to the values and working practices that the company has always had in place, since Heidi instigated them, but how do you keep the energy and enthusiasm alive in workers?
“We have a team of 20 people. We believe whole-heartedly in encouraging the development of our team members and as such, we have a leadership coach that works with us on a fortnightly basis. Training and development is important, as it helps to stamp out ‘non-family’ habits. We offer a novel environment, whereby our staff get more than just a paycheck. Our work is our home by bringing a genuine family culture into the corporate world, we keep our interests manageable, small and specialist. We want people to come and work with us and contribute something. The challenge for us, as employers, is to find ways to maintain employee excitement and zeal.”
With a family culture, enviable client base and sterling reputation all in place, the future looks secure for VI and we felt sure that a programme of expansion or development must already be on the cards and we weren’t disappointed by what Kent told us,
“Our strategic plan for 2017 involves the establishment of offices in Guyana. The development of the Oil and Gas industry will serve to allow us to use our expertise in developing the logistics sector there. Another part of the strategic plan is the strengthening of our third party registration process, to ensure we can expand our local transport package. It will be called OutSource Logistics (OSL). OSL will bring our local logistic services under one umbrella for all services, making it more user-friendly for the client. OSL is intended to help Vieira Inc. Trinidad to become a regional hub for the transhipment of cargo and a leader in the region for vessel supplies and services.”
Successfully blending a family culture with high-end logistics solutions is no simple task, but VI have mastered it by staying true to the philosophy and ethos with which it was formed and we look forward to seeing what 2017 brings for this innovative and inspiring operation.