ODESSA — An online retail corporation that sells everything from Autoharps to tomato milling machines has received a $250,000 Economic Gardening Loan administered by the Black Business Investment Fund for the state.
Web Direct Brands Inc. will use the money to increase manufacturing capacity and expand its marketing and IT departments. The company plans to hire skilled manufacturing personnel, technical writers, graphic designers, programmers, and IT support.
"Having the right tools and the proper financial support is of critical importance as we take the big leap toward the next stage of our growth," company president and chief executive officer Anthony Gaeto said in a news release. "Without doubt, this low-interest loan will help us rev up the economic motor of our company, create full-time positions, and give us an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community."
The company began in 2002 in Gaeto's garage. Web Direct Brands owns and operates a growing number of online "e-tailers." These Web sites all operate independently of each other, but are governed by the same customer support.
The company employs about 30 people and is now the world's largest Autoharp dealer, said vice president Matt Raab. It also sells gate openers and youth chairs and tomato milling machines.
The state Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development created the "economic gardening" loans in 2009 to help existing businesses grow. Web Direct Brands first learned about the loan program through the Pasco Economic Development Council, which hosted a conference on it November.
"Small, innovative and entrepreneurial companies like Web Direct Brands are the backbone of our economy," said Denise Sanderson, the EDC's business retention and expansion manager. "We're excited about the opportunities Web Direct Brands has before them and look forward to continuing to assist the company as they grow in Pasco County."
For information about the program or to receive an application, contact Sanderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (813) 920-6480.