Serving Panama since 1967
Manuel M. Sola Jr., who at the age of 18 was the youngest ever-licensed Customs Broker in Cuba founded Sola Transport Agency in 1951 in Havana, Cuba. By the mid 1950’s it had become one of the largest and most respected Customs Brokerage firms in Cuba. Not resting on his laurels Mr. Sola Jr. pursued and became an agent for Universal Carloading, one of the largest inland carriers via railroad in the USA.
Being a visionary, he developed the modern day NVOCC business before cargo containers even existed. Together with Universal Carloading he began consolidating less than container load cargo into railroad cars and putting them on ships bound for Cuba where he would unload them, Customs clear and deliver the cargo. When cargo containers came on the scene in the late 1950’s he established Transcarloading, an NVOCC company in Miami with the intentions of consolidating less than container (LCL) cargo containers bound for Cuba.
In 1960, Mr. Sola Jr. was forced to abandon his business and leave Cuba due to the political turmoil at the time and went to Miami and promptly opened up service from Miami to Puerto Rico under the Transcarloading banner. By 1965 he was the largest carrier of LCL cargo from Florida to Puerto Rico. Meanwhile another company by the name of Consolidated Express (CONEX) had copied his idea but from New York to Puerto Rico. In 1966 Transcarloading and Consolidated Express (CONEX) merged operations and became TRANSCONEX with Manuel M. Sola Jr. as its President. The company grew exponentially as they expanded into Panama and Jamaica amongst other destinations from the USA. Mr. Sola Jr. arrived in Panama in 1967, and immediately fell in love with Panama and its people. He established Agencia Nacional De Vapores dba Sola Transport Agency. His Panama business flourished because of his love and devotion for Panama. Through the years he spent the majority of his time in Panama and developed relationships that went far beyond business.
Transconex grew into not only being the pioneer of the NVOCC/ freight consolidation business but also to be the largest in the industry based on volumes, revenue and customer retention in the trade lanes it operated.
In the mid 1970’s Transconex built their own freight terminal that was revolutionary for its time with over 30 doors for receiving and loading. The first real freight terminal in Miami built specifically for LCL consolidation which is still under family ownership. In the early 1980’s the business had expanded to an extent that Manuel M. Sola Jr. decided that it was time to spin off the International business from the Puerto Rico business. The Puerto Rico business remained under the TRANSCONEX name while the International became TCX International, which served Panama and Jamaica. His son Manuel (Manny) Sola III took charge of continuing to grow the Puerto Rico market while Manuel M. Sola Jr. concentrated on his true love (Panama). In 1984 there was a parting of the ways with Mr. Sola Jr.’s business partner who kept the Transconex business and Manuel M. Sola Jr. naturally kept TCX International and henceforth Panama. In 1985 Manny Sola III went off on his own and started his own company Caribtrans, specializing in the Eastern Caribbean serving the chain of Islands from the V.I. down to Trinidad.
In 1988 Mr. Sola Jr. hired a young apprentice in Panama by the name of Aleida Lopez Del Cid. Aleida had just arrived from Germany where she had studied for 5 years and had earned her degree in Economy with a specialty in Exterior Commerce. Aleida learned the business as she grew together with Mr. Sola Jr. as her mentor, he continued building the Panama business while confiding in and developing Aleida’s skills. In 1995 he promoted her to the role of General Manager. In 1997 Mr. Manuel Sola Jr. sold TCX but he retained the agency in Panama, Sola Transport Agency. He continued to concentrate his efforts in Panama. The pair of entrepreneurs of Manuel and Aleida built what is today Sola Transport Agency in Panama. In 2000 Manuel M. Sola Jr. was so grateful and proud of Aleida’s contributions that he made her a full-fledged partner in the business. Manuel M. Sola Jr.’s love for Panama never waned and with Aleida Lopez Del Cid at the helm in Panama they persevered and continued to grow the business in Panama.
The respect that Mr. Manuel M. Sola Jr. commanded throughout his so many years of promoting business into Panama earned him the official title of Special Ambassador in Charge of Promoting Commerce into Panama, an honor Mr. Sola Jr. highly cherished. Sadly on November 14th of 2014 Mr. Manuel M. Sola Jr. passed away in Miami at the age of 81. His contribution to the NVOCC/ freight consolidation and shipping business as well as to commerce with Panama over all will never again be replicated. He was a pioneer, a maverick, and a friend to all that knew him. The world was a better place because of him and many will sorely miss him. However his legacy will continue for many years to come and, Sola Transport Agency with Aleida Lopez Del Cid and Manny Sola III will continue the quest of continuing to develop Sola Transport Agency. With their mentor’s teachings and their combined experience there is very little doubt that Sola Transport Agency will continue to be a premier forwarder.