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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 4, 2008 14 years ago

Coffee Talk

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Most CFOs to maintain staffing levels: About 5% of chief financial officers in the Tampa Bay area plan to add accounting and finance staff during the first quarter of 2008, while 5% anticipate reductions in personnel, according to the most recent Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index.Taking Big Blue to court Watch out, Goliath.: T3 Technologies Inc. of Tampa has filed an anti-trust claim against IBM in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging anti-trust violations and unfair competition.CarBiz plans 'superstore' in Houston: Sarasota-based CarBiz Inc. has announced plans to open its first "Superstore" in Houston next month.Search for industrial land continues: And while residential slows down, industrial demand heats up. Businesses need warehouses. But there is little available land on which to build. Even on Interstate 75.New online community emerging: Tampa-based Web Piston just released a Web application, Frupee, that allows people to build their own online communities.Evos knows college students: Healthy food and college students? Not always a match.Port likely to spend $1 billion: The Tampa Port Authority and maritime businesses can expect to pump more than $1 billion into facilities at Tampa's port during the next 20 years, a consultant developing the port's master plan said.

Coffee Talk

+ Most CFOs to

maintain staffing levels

About 5% of chief financial officers in the Tampa Bay area plan to add accounting and finance staff during the first quarter of 2008, while 5% anticipate reductions in personnel, according to the most recent Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index. The majority of respondents, 87%, foresee no change in hiring.

The local results reflect a two-quarter rolling average based on interviews with 200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in the Tampa Bay area with 20 or more employees.

+ Taking

Big Blue to court

Watch out, Goliath.

T3 Technologies Inc. of Tampa has filed an anti-trust claim against IBM in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging anti-trust violations and unfair competition. The filing seeks to join Platform Solutions' existing anti-trust litigation against IBM due to the similarities in the company's allegations.

T3's claims are based on efforts by IBM to maintain and extend its reach in the mainframe hardware industry. T3 alleges that since the expiration of the U.S. Justice Department's Consent Decree in 2001, and contrary to historical practices that resulted from that decree, IBM has prevented the sales of competing mainframe hardware products by withholding the licensing of IBM's mainframe operating systems to any hardware systems except their own. T3 is seeking undisclosed damages.

T3 championed the cause of smaller mainframe users when it began marketing its tServer line of mainframe-compatible systems in 2000. Developed specifically for small- and mid-sized users that IBM offerings no longer suited, the tServer became the leading small mainframe in the world, with more than 600 units installed in 28 countries.

T3 Technologies is a privately held firm in Tampa launched in 1992 and has been involved with mainframe hardware and services since its inception.

+ CarBiz plans

'superstore' in Houston

Sarasota-based CarBiz Inc. has announced plans to open its first "Superstore" in Houston next month. The facility will be significantly larger than its existing 26 dealerships with enhanced service operations, collections and sales departments.

The new facility will have an average vehicle price of $15,000, up significantly from the under $6,000 average at CarBiz's current store. More importantly, the company says that overall unit sales are projected to be up to four times that of a typical CarBiz store.

"The superstore model is a project that we have been analyzing for some time," Carl Ritter, CEO of CarBiz, said in a press release. "We expect it to add significant revenue and earnings to our Buy Here Pay Here division, and we hope to add additional superstores in the future."

The company reports that 60% of car buyers in the Houston market require some form of subprime financing.

CarBiz owns and operates the nation's fourth-largest chain of buy-here pay-here dealerships through its CarBiz Auto Credit division. It is also a provider of software, training and consulting to the United States automotive industry.

+ Search for industrial land continues

And while residential slows down, industrial demand heats up. Businesses need warehouses. But there is little available land on which to build. Even on Interstate 75.

"A lot of people are looking for industrial land. There's a lot competing for the same dirt," says Randy Simmons, chairman of R.R. Simmons Construction Corp. in Tampa.

Some land investors paid too much for property and there should be some declining prices, Simmons says.

"We're going to see some major haircuts for residential land," he says. "Pretty serious changes in value."

+ New online

community emerging

Tampa-based Web Piston just released a Web application, Frupee, that allows people to build their own online communities.

Frupee claims to be different from super-store type communities such as Facebook and MySpace and could work for businesses as well as family and friends, clubs, sports, nonprofit organizations, schools and artists. And it's free.

+ Evos knows

college students

Healthy food and college students? Not always a match.

But Tampa-based health-conscious restaurant chain Evos isn't taking any chances. It is adding beer to its menu for its new restaurant near the University of South Florida when it opens its first Florida franchise in Tampa Dec. 6.

The 67-seat restaurant will open inside the University Collection shopping center on 2774 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, one block from the University of South Florida's main campus.

It marks the second franchise for the four-unit Tampa chain which has another franchise operation in Henderson, Nev. and three company-owned stores in the Tampa area. The last Tampa location opened in Westshore in 2003.

 Tampa attorney Gregory Jones will open the franchise store which will employ 30 people and expects to generate more than $1 million in revenue.

 The 2,450 square-foot franchise, which cost $475,000 to develop, has a fresh look which includes more banquette and bar stool seating, a lounge area, more modern eco-design materials and extensive outdoor patio seating.

 Students are an integral part of the business, so this location will be catering to them with the beer.

 Jones plans to open two additional franchise units in Tampa Bay and is currently looking in Brandon, Carollwood, Palm Harbor, Countryside and the Tyrone area in St. Petersburg. He is currently searching for sites and plans to open a second location as early as summer 2008.

Port likely to spend $1 billion

The Tampa Port Authority and maritime businesses can expect to pump more than $1 billion into facilities at Tampa's port during the next 20 years, a consultant developing the port's master plan said.

The port should enjoy continued growth, says Jim Brennan of the consulting firm Norbridge, if the public agency and private businesses make capital investments of $1 billion to $1.5 billion through 2027.

The port will profit from growth in the Interstate 4 corridor that runs across Central Florida, he says, as demand increases for gasoline, construction materials and consumer goods shipped into Tampa.

The port authority will need to spend $850-million to $950-million to build berths and cargo terminals and buy additional land, the report suggests. Within 20 years, companies operating petroleum terminals will likely consider relocating from Ybor Channel, Port Tampa and Rattlesnake Point as developers offer to build residences there, says Brennan.

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