The quality of life Sarasota County offers with its beaches and year-round warm weather drew trucking and logistics company D-Trans here. The ease of doing business here, say company officials, made it stay. And now it's expanding.
The Venice-based company’s $6.4 million expansion is expected to add 50 new jobs, more than doubling its current workforce of around 40 part- and full-time employees. Co-founder Vladimir Durshpek expects construction to be complete this fall, with plans to move in by November.
Durshpek and his wife started the company in 2005 in Portland, Oregon, with just one truck. Today D-Trans provides transportation and logistics services across the country and Canada. Durshpek declines to disclose company revenue data.
They moved to Venice in 2008, during the recession and despite having no knowledge of what the business climate was like in Sarasota County. It took “a lot of hard work,” he says to get where they are now. “We’re working our way up.”
While quality of life played into the move, he also notes the area wasn’t as busy at that time. “We thought we could anchor here and grow here with the environment, community and state,” he says.
In 2015, the company settled into its current location, 230 Blue Juniper Blvd., Venice. With 7,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, the company will continue to occupy the facility through the expansion. The new three-story headquarters with a warehouse facility will add 27,000 square feet.
The added capacity will give D-Trans the ability to provide short- and long-term storage for clients’ products, while also allowing the transportation company to dip into a model many large carriers don’t offer: allowing two customers to share a truck if shipping to the same location or area, which may require multiple stops.
“We could fill that void,” he says.
The 50 new jobs will be filled over the first 12-24 months, Durshpek says, adding truck driving and office positions will be open.
The Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County assisted with the D-Trans project.
“They were very encouraging,” Durshpek says. “If there’s any roadblocks, they help find your way to the right source so you don’t get stuck trying to apply for permits or power. They really are instrumental in pushing things through.”
Through an incentive program in the county, the application process for the project’s building permits were expedited. “When you’re creating jobs,” Durshpek says, “they put you in front of the line to help you get to your goals faster.”
Josh Ewen, vice president of economic development services at the EDC, says the initiative is offered to companies that meet certain criteria like adding jobs and capital investment. Through the initiative, building permits can be issued in 21 days, he says.
“We want to make sure we’re a resource for them,” Ewen says.
To ensure everything kept rolling, the EDC connected the project’s general contractor with Florida Power and Light to get the lights on. “We were able to get them to the right people and continue the conversation so things kept moving on the project,” Ewen says.
Other elements were out of the EDC’s hands — like Hurricane Ian.
When the hurricane hit last year, the project was in its second month of construction. Structural components were damaged in the process, pushing the project back two months. That’s where having the “right builder” came in really handy, Durshpek says, noting Sarasota-based Wessel Construction, the builder on the project, stepped up in getting the repair done quickly so they could move forward.
With the project beginning to wrap up, the EDC is taking a different approach to providing support.
“Now that (Durshpek’s) at this expansion phase, we will work with our resource partners throughout the county in trying to help fill those 50 potential jobs,” Ewen says. “We’ll also help raise awareness about his company."
“To show there is private investment being made by this family-owned business is a great asset," Ewen adds, "and we’d like to tell other businesses that they should also locate here.”
While Durshpek relishes the help from the EDC and others, he's not as keen on an issue impacting many businesses: the chaotic and costly state of insurance premiums.
He’s hoping to see continued growth in the next five years, but he’s up against insurance costs. “It’s a huge challenge for any business,” he says.
Last year, a bipartisan reform package that was passed and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis created a new standard for the application of attorney fee multipliers and limited the assignment of attorney’s fees in property insurance cases, in the hope of disincentivizing frivolous claims.
But that reform has seemingly not yet made it to down to Durshpek.
“It’s hard to price (projects) a year in advance when your insurance could go up by 20% next year,” he says. “It really messes with that stability where you can give correct pricing to customers.”