- April 12, 2013
The Tube Dude is growing up.
A colorful metallic stick statue made out of aluminum and other materials used for boats, the dude is a Sarasota-based business. And those statues are everywhere from people's mailboxes to the fronts of businesses to mini ones in offices.
Onetime boat builder Scott Gerber founded Tube Dude in 2010 out of the remnants of what was Legend Custom Yachts, a $5 million, 60-employee business. The firm has since had some growing pains (Gerber initially ran the business out of his former boat building facility and later moved to a store on Main Street in downtown Sarasota and then St. Armands), but Gerber says his storefront location on St. Armands Circle has been doing well of late.
So well that Gerber plans to open a second location. The new store is in the Artegon Marketplace, an enclosed shopping center formerly named Festival Bay Mall on International Drive in Orlando. Gerber tells Coffee Talk the expansion is a numbers game: The Tube Dude, he says, is similar to popular art, and the best way to build sales is to attract more eyes. The 8,000-square-foot store is expected to open later this year.
“The more popular you become the more popular your art is,” says Gerber. “We need to get our art in front of a large crowd.”
Tube Dudes sell from $45 for an 8-inch “dude head” wall decor to more than $2,000 for custom-made pieces. In total, Gerber says he's sold at least 4,000 Tube Dudes to people from 41 countries. In addition to the new store, Gerber says he's working on a licensing agreement in Bonn, Germany, to sell more Tube Dudes.
In 2011 Gerber received $56,000 from Sarasota County, in an economic development incentive agreement that required him to hire 44 people by 2016. Gerber says the agreement and public scrutiny of it has since become a hassle, and he decided to repay it. He reached an agreement with Sarasota County officials last year to repay the grant in six payments spread over two years. Gerber says he has made three of those payments. “I've never been a day late,” he says. “I personally deliver the checks the day they are due.”