Make us your home page
Instagram

Need to ship big item? Trinity father-son duo can get it done

Entrepreneurs Matt and Jim Brosious of FreightCenter pose in front of Matt’s Viper at their headquarters in Trinity.

JANEL SCHROEDER-NORTON | Times

Entrepreneurs Matt and Jim Brosious of FreightCenter pose in front of Matt’s Viper at their headquarters in Trinity.

TRINITY — Shipping small packages was a breeze. But sending the big stuff — Dad's old chair, Grandma's dresser — stumped customers at shipping stores run by Matt and Jim Brosious.

These items might be too heavy for the postal service or UPS, too insignificant for a trucking company.

"Sadly, the people might just say, 'Well, we can't send it,' " said Matt Brosious.

That's when the father-son team first saw an opportunity.

Nearly a decade later, the two men run FreightCenter, an Internet-based brokerage firm that helps consumers and small businesses find a trucking company that won't break their budget.

The company, which recently moved its offices from downtown Clearwater to Welbilt Blvd. in Trinity, has orchestrated the shipment of everything from fertilizer to a totem pole, from ice for hurricane disaster relief to robots for a television program.

"Nothing is too small for us," said Desiree Brosious, executive office assistant and wife of Matt.

Annual revenues are around $14-million, company officials say.

FreightCenter's Web site does for shippers what Expedia does for travelers: Gives instant rate comparisons for shipping a specific item from one ZIP code to another. In other cases, FreightCenter acts like an auctioneer, putting a customer's shipment needs up for bid among carriers looking to fill up their trucks.

The company can offer lower shipping rates because it has contracts with dozens of trucking companies who offer lower prices in exchange for high volume of business.

FreightCenter has contracts with carriers ranging from Roadway, Bekin and FedEx Freight to small owner-operator trucking businesses.

Even with FreightCenter's markup — around 25 percent — the rates with certain companies are in many cases still lower than a customer could get if he called up the company directly and asked for a quote.

"The carriers give us a huge discount," said Matt, "and we push their name."

FreightCenter is one of thousands of companies that are part of the so-called $163-billion "logistics" industry, which specializes in finding efficiencies in the complicated world of distribution.

In the trucking industry, these companies developed after the government deregulation in the early 1980s. Such companies often use sophisticated software and high-level mathematics to help shippers find the least expensive and quickest ways to send their goods and to help carriers find a way to keep their trucks as full as possible.

A number of Internet-based logistics companies started popping up at the beginning of this decade, often as spin-off companies from carriers' IT departments, said John Saldanha, an Ohio State University professor who teaches logistics.

FreightCenter says its major competitor is FreightQuote, a Kansas company with 850 employees and annual revenues exceeding $400-million.

Saldanha had not heard of FreightCenter but after looking at the company's Web site said it appears to appeal more directly to consumers than typical logistics companies do.

FreightCenter is a little different, of course, in that it was a spin-off of a package shipping storefront.

Company officials like to point out just how far they have come. They went from a handful of employees in their early years to 50, including customer service representatives, brokers and software development teams. Salaries start around $30,000, said Matt Brosious.

Despite the economy, business is better now than it was last year, said Matt Brosious. He attributes that in part to more businesses realizing it may be cheaper to outsource their shipping to a third-party such as FreightCenter.

Even though the company touts its appeal to individuals, its work with commercial shippers has grown in the past decade. Nearly 70 percent of FreightCenter's business now comes from small to medium-sized commercial operations, many of which don't ship often enough to secure lower, volume-based rates on their own. Thirty percent is from individuals.

That ratio used to be reversed, said Desiree Brosious.

FreightCenter is also trying to establish a larger presence on eBay. This year it developed an online tool that allows people selling items on eBay to create a shipping calculator and put it on their auction listing. The calculator lets customers get an instant price for shipping.

All this growth comes as the Brosiouses tried to get a little closer to home. They moved their business to Trinity this year in large part because they live there. Both Matt and Jim own upscale homes in the Champions' Club subdivision and say they were ready to cut their commute.

At work, father and son, both former military men, downplay their relationship. Matt, who calls his father "Jim" during office hours, handles sales while Jim is in charge of marketing.

"When I walk through the door," said Jim, "I'm his partner, not his father."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Visit FreightCenter on the Web at http://www.freightcenter.com

>>Fast facts

Check it out

Visit FreightCenter on the Web at www.freightcenter.com

Need to ship big item? Trinity father-son duo can get it done 09/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 4th Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]
  2. AAA expects gas prices in Tampa Bay will continue to fall

    Autos

    Ticking slowly and steadily, regular gas prices have receded for the last 10 consecutive days. The average unleaded gas price in Florida is $2.67 this morning, a nickel cheaper than a week ago. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas has dropped 7 cents from a week ago to $2.62. The national average for regular …

    Gas prices for regular gas continue to decline. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas is down 7 cents from a week ago at $2.62 a gallon. [Times file photo]
  3. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  4. USF to rename sports management program for Vinik family

    Blogs

    The University of South Florida will name a business program for the Vinik family at a Tuesday event.

    Tampa Bay Lightning owner and chairman Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, in 2010.
  5. Tonight: Hear ideas for remaking downtown Tampa interchange

    Transportation

    TAMPA — New concepts for rebuilding the downtown interchange will be discussed at a Florida Department of Transportation community meeting Monday night.

    The Florida Department of Transportation renamed its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan is now known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. [Florida Department of Transportation]