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PINELLAS IN LINE TO GET 60 NEW JOBS

A freight service is moving from Pasco to Palm Harbor with plans for expansion.

FreightCenter Inc., a third-party freight service based in Trinity in Pasco County, will relocate to Palm Harbor early next year and expand.

The move brings a new business to Pinellas County and 60 new sales jobs. Annual salaries for those new jobs will start between $22,000 and $25,000.

With the additional employees, officially called freight brokers, FreightCenter Inc. will move 170 people into 16,000 square feet in Highland Commons, 34125 U.S. 19 N in unincorporated Palm Harbor, said James Brosious, the company's founder.

FreightCenter has been in Pasco County for five years and has been successful there, but Brosious said the type of worker he needs - people with technology backgrounds - is better found in Pinellas.

"Our website and our software has all been built in-house. Even though the initial burst of hires will be salespeople, we do need workers with technology backgrounds, too,'' said Brosious, 66. "We have found it difficult to find those types of workers in rural Pasco County. In my view, I think the people we need tend to live in more metropolitan areas like St. Petersburg and Clearwater.''

Brosious, who expects to make $35 million in freight sales in 2013, hopes that by this time next year, the company will be able to grow even more.

"We would like to believe that by the latter part of 2013, we will be assessing the opportunity to expand into the second floor of the building, too," he said. "If that happens, we would be in position to expand the number of staff again.''

Brosious, a former grocer who graduated from the University of Minnesota, and his wife, Tari, moved to Florida in 1994 and opened a single shipping and packaging store. "That store, over the next three years, grew to three stores,'' Brosious said.

In 1997, the couple expanded into handling heavier freight.

"And in 1998, we established a website, which is now known as freightcenter.com," he said. "In layman's terms, it can be described as the freight equivalent to a website like Expedia.com or hotels.com,'' he said.

Customers go to the website and plug in their shipping needs. "With a single input, our customer can shop as many as 70 carriers, although there are about 20 major players,'' he said.

FreightCenter Inc. has worked with nationally known companies like Orange County Choppers in New York, Universal Studios, the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as the production crew for the Discovery Channel show Graveyard Carz.

Although the Pinellas County Economic Development Council did not lure this particular business with incentives, officials are excited that FreightCenter Inc. is moving to Pinellas.

"We are very happy to see them staying in the Tampa Bay area, and we are very happy to see them come to Palm Harbor,'' said Stacey Swank of the Pinellas County Economic Development Department.

FreightCenter Inc. already has begun the hiring process for the additional sales staff. Brosious stressed that within six months, "... the expectation of our salespeople is that they should be making $30,000 to $35,000. However, we have people here making well over that,'' he said.

Those interested in applying for a position can email their resume to Tiffany Brown at careers@freightcenter.com.

Piper Castillo can be reached at pcastillo@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4163.

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