When it comes to international cargo logistics, there is so much more than meets the eye — and to succeed in this business it takes real vision.
When Lilly Cabrera got her first look into the world of shipping, what she saw inspired her throw the door open, push through a traditionally-male dominated industry, and start down a path to operating a multinational shipping and logistics corporation, aptly called SHIPLILLY – with hundreds employees and agents around the world.
It was decades ago that Lilly found her first job in the trade sector as a receptionist at a freight-forwarding company. There she learned everything she could from the ground up. Quickly recognizing that international trade was expanding rapidly in Miami, she tapped her entire life savings and her new skills in international trade to start her own company in 1996 with her son Nelson R. Cabrera at her side.
“We certainly know what it’s like to start at the bottom in this industry,” says Nelson, CEO of SHIPLILLY, quickly noting he got his own start as a shipping clerk – making just $6.50 per hour. “As a result, we will always remain humble despite the highs we experience in this amazing business. We will always be willing to bend over backwards for our customers – without ever thinking we are above the situation.”
The mother-and-son team wore many different hats over the years – and often for the very first time. Among the early lessons was the belief that shipping goods around the globe doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Says Nelson, “We understood from the beginning that the key to the ongoing success of our company would have to be personal service, efficient options, and attention to detail.”
Today, SHIPLILLY works with a multitude of customers – from large corporations with complex global supply chains, to mom-and-pop distributors and individuals moving overseas shipping personal items across the world.
“We offer our customers something different than the average international logistics provider does,” said Nelson. “We take the necessary time to get to know the operation on a micro level to find any missed opportunities for optimizing the efficiency and cost effectiveness of our customer’s supply chain.”
Reflecting back, Nelson also notes that great timing was a key factor for the company’s success. As Miami’s position as the gateway to South and Central America grew over time, so did the demand for logistics.
“We were in the right place at the right time – perfectly positioned to offer a full portfolio of high-quality international transportation and logistics services,” Nelson said.
But at the end of the day, SHIPLILLY will always be a homegrown Miami business – albeit, with a very global perspective.
Says Nelson, “We can literally operate in any part of the world with our own staff and be totally effective. The diversity in Miami has definitely helped us learn to adapt and operate in this way.”
Today, SHIPLILLY has grown into an asset-based multinational corporation, focusing not only on international freight but on domestic distribution, and even warehousing, with wholly-owned offices and distribution centers in North America, South/Central America, and Asia, along with its own vessel and trucking fleet operating in some of the most demanded routes.
Lilly Cabrera’s story epitomizes the well-loved tale of the American Dream. She risked everything to travel to America with her three children in 1979, leaving her native Peru behind. It has been through her hard work, determination, and astounding foresight that the company is the international powerhouse it is today.