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Bay Brokerage owners say business is good; another expansion planned for 2014

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COLLINS LANDING — Bay Brokerage Inc., which recently moved into its new $1.5 million, two-story building near the Thousand Islands Bridge, is planning another expansion that could take place as soon as next year.

Founded in May 2004, the customs broker is headquartered in the north country but has branch offices in Buffalo, Champlain and Port Huron, Mich.

The company was renting a facility on Wellesley Island for its corporate headquarters before moving into its own 14,000-square-foot building at 42832 Route 12 in February.

Despite the lagging economy of the past four years, business has been good for Bay Brokerage, and the company outgrew the Wellesley Island facility, according to its founders.

Kenneth M. Carmon, president and co-founder of the company, said that while global economic distress and heightened border security hurt many customs brokers along the northern border, Bay Brokerage managed to expand and build a customer base not only in North America, but in Europe and China, as well.

Thousands of shipments, northbound and southbound, pass through Bay Brokerage daily, and even as employees were moving into their new building, they were processing packages and helping customers, said Kathi M. Wozniak, the company’s vice president and founding partner.

“When we bring it over here, it’s a guaranteed service,” she said. “The border never closes, so my job never stops.”

Bay Brokerage mainly helps exporters, importers, logistics providers, trucking companies, and ocean and air carriers reduce border “release times” and makes sure they are not paying excess duty rates or taxes.

Certain U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspections that are conducted at the company’s container freight station also help speed up the clearance process, Ms. Wozniak said.

But the company also helps Canadians living near the border avoid costly international shipping charges by letting them send items purchased online to Bay Brokerage’s storage facility — much like the Ford Street UPS store in Ogdensburg.

Consumers send anything from crayons to motorcycles, with tires being one of the more popular items because they are apparently quite a bit cheaper in the U.S., Mr. Carmon said.

“We even had hot tubs in our office in Buffalo,” Ms. Wozniak said.

Bay Brokerage receives some 2,000 packages a day and sends out email notifications so people know when to pick up their parcels.

The move to Collins Landing proved to be a good decision, as many customers find it more convenient, Mr. Carmon said.

“The move to our current location from Wellesley Island gives us better access to carriers not willing to cross the bridge,” he said.

About 8 acres remain on Bay Brokerage’s Route 12 property for future growth.

Bay Brokerage has 29 employees, including 15 employees at its headquarters. At its Collins Landing location, Bay Brokerage also has four trucks of its own covering Jefferson County and eastern Ontario.

“And advances in technology allow companies like Bay Brokerage to hire people locally to check parcels elsewhere,” Mr. Carmon said. “Automation has saved us a ton of money and helped us cut back on rental costs for offices elsewhere.”

Mr. Carmon said the company is preparing another expansion, possibly in 2014, and plans to hire five to 10 more employees.

“We may open in an airport eventually,” Mr. Carmon said. “And I’d like to work with Watertown Airport in the future.”

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