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PEDC Distribution Industry of the Year (Category 2)

Doing it well: $6-million in sales

Web Direct Brands is named one of the county's best.

BY JODIE TILLMAN
Times Staff Writer

      WESLEY CHAPEL - If anything, Anthony Gaeto is a practical man.
      Why did he begin selling gates over the internet? Because he needed one for his house. Why did he start selling coffee and workout machines, too? Because he counted a coffee lover and a fitness buff among his employees.
      "There's nothing earth-shattering about what we do," said Gaeto, 48, president of Web Direct Brands Inc. "But we try to do what we do real well."
      The Pasco Economic Development Council agreed, at least with that last part. At its annual awards banquet Tuesday night, Gaeto's Internet retail company was named one of the best businesses of 2008.
      Web Direct Brands, in a 9,600-square-foot facility off State Road 54, does about $6-million a year in sales, up from $2-million in its first year, 2003, said Gaeto.
      Gaeto built the Internet company after a number of years working as an auctioneer. The Web site started as a place for people to list stuff they wanted to sell; the company got a commission if it sold.
      But Gaeto said he wanted the Web site to focus on a few specialty products. To show listers how it could be done, he started selling gates, coffee and fitness equipment. Those products sold so well, he scrapped the listing function to become a full-scale retailer. Web Direct buys directly from manufacturers, mainly in China but also in Italy and the United States. Customers can lean on the Web site for a good deal of information, including video footage of how to assemble the gates, for instance.
      The company has expanded its offerings to auto harps, solar water heaters and Asian furniture. Gaeto has plans to sell even more one day as he figures out what markets would work best.
      "What I really like about this business is it's a business I can grow really big," said Gaeto. "It's the right business at the right time."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

The Winners

Manufacturing

Category 1 (25 employees or less): Agri-Source Fuels LLC, Dade city
Category 2 (more than 25 employees): Zephyrhills Spring Water Co., Zephyrhills

Service/distribution

Category 1: The pampering plumber, Trinity
Category 2: Web Direct Brands Inc., Odessa

New Business award

Residence Inn at NorthPointe, Lutz

Special Contribution award

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, San Antonio

Special Recognition award

Pasco Regional Medical Center, Dade City

source: Tillman, Jodie. "Doing It Well: $6-million in Sales." St. Petersburg Times. 3 Sept. 2008: Business 1-2.