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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 4 years ago

Tube Talk

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Tube Dude rolls a little down Main Street.
by: Business Observer Staff Writer

The Tube Dude has moved.

Not far, but owner Scott Gerber says the location change will be a good opportunity for the Sarasota-based business — known for its large-scale colorful sculptures. It left its location on Main Street in Sarasota to move a little farther down the street. At 7,300 square feet, the new location more than doubles the size of the two spaces that made up the old place.

The increase in size means Tube Dude, with a staff of six, now has enough space for people to come in and watch employees make sculptures, says Gerber. If customers want to come in and watch their own Tube Dude being made, Gerber tells Coffee Talk they can sit in front of a big glass window at the new location and observe the welding, bending and cutting. Tube Dude will even cater in lunch for them so they can make an afternoon of it.

The custom-made pieces are frequent sights throughout Sarasota — in front of businesses; mailboxes in neighborhoods; and on lawns facing the bay. The company is also getting orders from all over the country, Gerber says. One city outside the Sunshine State, Greer, S.C., is the owner of what Gerber calls the largest Tube Dude ever made. It sits outside Greer City Hall, greeting visitors.

The sales from outside the area and the move to a bigger space represents positive progress for Tube Dude, which faced controversy with Sarasota County in the mid-2000s, when it didn't expand operations after receiving economic incentive dollars. County officials signed an agreement in 2011 to give Tube Dude $56,000 to expand operations and promised $1,000 each for 44 new jobs created. When the jobs didn't come to fruition and the business didn't expand, Gerber paid the county back through a series of payments that wrapped up in 2016.

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