PHARR, Texas – A customs broker with offices in Pharr and Brownsville says he cannot thank the Pharr Bridge Board enough for putting on their monthly Bridge Connect sessions.

Crispin N. Flores, owner of C&J Logistical Services, Inc., said the information he and his colleagues in the import-export industry receive at the seminars are invaluable. 

“These seminars are of great benefit to the whole community. As customs brokers, we do a lot of reading, we do a lot of webinars. But to actually have the government officials in front of you explaining what we need to do to make sure our shipments do not get stuck at the bridge, it is invaluable,” Flores said.

“It is a beautiful thing, what the Pharr Bridge Board does. By putting these seminars on, they will attract more businesses into the area. There is no doubt about that. This is a very good program.”

The Bridge Connect series is staged each month at the Pharr Development & Research Center. The series had to move over to a virtual format while the coronavirus pandemic was raging but now is back to an in-person gathering. That said, the Pharr Bridge Board still streams the sessions live online, for those who cannot make the event. 

The most recent seminar featured officials with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 

“The FDA did a great job. We had a good attendance including a lot of people online. But, I prefer in-person. It is great to interact with the government officials,” Flores said.

The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service has featured Flores before, during his time as president of the Mid Valley Customs Brokers Association. He is still a member of the group.

The Guardian wanted to catch up with Flores to ask if it is true that the import-export business is booming. He answered affirmatively, stating that the USMCA trade agreement and the disruption to supply chains caused by the pandemic were propelling manufacturers to build their new plants in North America again. 

“Business is growing,” Flores said. “We have seen a lot of new companies going into Mexico. In fact, during this seminar I received an email from a client saying they are opening up another facility in Mexico for one of their existing clients that does a lot of the medical products and medical gear in Mexico. So, they are going to open another factory in the Torreón area. It is one of six facilities this company will be dealing with.”

C&J Logistical Services handles warehousing, logistics, transportation. It tends to specialize in the textile and medical industries. 

“We do a lot with maquiladoras so send a lot of material into Mexico that gets produced in Mexico and then comes back as either wearing apparel or medical goods. Some of it is done right across the border in Reynosa and a lot of it is done in the Torreón area. We also have a big client in the Puebla area. We have been in business since 2003. Next year will be our 20th Anniversary,” Flores said, proudly.

Asked why business is booming, Flores said: “A lot of people are beginning to understand the sometimes negative consequences of doing offshore manufacturing, especially in the China and Japan area. The closer they are to home the better they can resolve their logistical problems. Having to cross an ocean can be a headache. Here, you cross the land border and you are in the U.S. It is a lot easier and a lot faster. Mexico is a good place to be manufacturing in.”

A banner on display at the Bridge Connect seminar promoted the Pharr International Bridge’s eagerly awaited second span. The banner said it will be opening in 2023 but Pharr officials now say that ambitious timeline might slide a little.

Asked how important the second span would be, Flores said: “I think it will be a nice addition to the overall operations. What I like about it is that it will provide an independent lane for C-TPAT importers and exporters. That will be a very attractive feature for this area. Right now, none of the bridges in our area have a dedicated lane for C-TPAT qualified carriers.”

The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program was established soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Under the program, which is administered by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, carriers assure that their product is secure and that nothing has been placed inside their containers without the carrier knowing about it. 

“I am really looking forward to the dedicated C-TPAT lane on the Pharr Bridge. Product will be move faster. It will attract more business to our area,” Flores said. 

Flores added that the Mid Valley Customs Brokers Association is planning to host its own seminar at the Pharr Development & Research Center, probably in October. He said it will feature attorneys from Houston.

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