Matt Brosious was not sure what he wanted to do when he left the U.S. Army as a special ops Ranger, so he started college in upstate New York.
But when his dad, Jim, unexpectedly needed help with one of three stores he owned in the consumer mailing and packaging business, Brosious dropped out of college and moved to the New Port Richey area.
When he realized people did not know what size restrictions were on shipping items, he started a little side business in the back of one of the stores to offer shipping on large items. Within two years, revenues from his operation surpassed the entire chain of stores, so his dad decided to sell the stores and let Brosious run the shipping business.
The business consisted of a president, Brosious, and a sales team, Brosious. He did everything, even teaching himself how to build his own computers from scratch in the late 1990s because he could not afford to buy them off the shelf. He soon discovered that the niche between regular mail and moving companies was big, unmet and ripe.
Coming out of the second recession it has been through, Trinity-based FreightCenter Inc. has reinvented itself as a shipper for businesses more than consumers, flipping the model it grew up on from the back of the store. It is now growing at a fast pace, 50% annually the past two years, through continual innovation in an industry as old as the wheel.
“We've taken, hands down, the most boring industry, and we made it into something pretty darn exciting,” he says from an office that has windows looking out to his customer service staff. “We became pioneers in automating the industry.”
FreightCenter does not own shipping trucks, but is becoming a big player in the shipping industry with more than 1 million registered customers, adding about 1,500 each day through its website. Through deeply discounted contracts with 20 national carriers and thousands of local ones, the company ships large, heavy items, such as engines, car batteries, or even cars themselves.
Brosious, 37, is married to Desiree, has three young children and, by his own reckoning, a serious case of ADD. But he thinks it has helped him innovate in an industry long resistant to new technologies. He is constantly looking for new ways to aggregate shipping — including now negotiating with ports in the country.
FreightCenter has its own full-time staff of software engineers and sells customized shipping software. Although most of its revenue comes from online shipping sales, he says “software programming is very lucrative.” Total sales are on track to hit $40 million this year.