Fast-growing online shipping auction company has outgrown its South Congress Avenue space
By Shonda Novak
Published: 12:06 a.m. Thursday, July 22, 2010
uShip Inc., a fast-growing company that hosts online auctions for shipping services, will make downtown Austin its home when it moves later this year into a turn-of-the-century building currently occupied by advertising agency McGarrah Jessee.
“Obviously, Austin has a very vibrant downtown environment, and many of our employees live downtown or central and are very excited about moving downtown,” said Matt Chasen, chief executive of the firm that he and two other University of Texas MBA graduates launched in 2004.
UShip has outgrown its current offices, about 4,200 square feet at Penn Field on South Congress Avenue.
With the move into 18,628 square feet at Third and Brazos streets, uShip will quadruple its local footprint. The company is targeting Dec. 1 for its move-in, Chasen said.
McGarrah Jessee is planning to move to the Starr Building at West Sixth and Colorado streets this year.
Last year, in its first full year of profitability, uShip had $6 million in revenue — an 800 percent increase since 2005, Chasen said. The company’s work force has grown from 15 employees in 2006 to 65 employees today, with that number expected to double in the next few years, Chasen said.
The company is looking now to fill jobs in software development, human resources and marketing.
The company links people and businesses with transporters. Carriers bid to win businesses, often filling extra space in their trucks and saving customers 50 percent on average, according to uShip.
The firm recently expanded into Canada, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom, and is planning further expansion into the Netherlands, France and Spain during the next year, Chasen said.
The company joins other firms that have moved or plan to move downtown in recent years, including Silicon Laboratories Inc., Bury and Partners Inc., and Cirrus Logic Inc., which plans to build a six-story, 135,000-square-foot headquarters at 800 W. Sixth St.
Since its founding, more than 170,000 transporters have registered on uShip, generating more than $150 million in business, the company said.
Chasen said the lease is a three-year term with renewal options but declined to disclose additional details.
Matt Levin, a principal with Equitable Commercial Realty, represented uShip . Nate Nickerson, a principal with Primus Real Estate Services, represented the landlord. Levin said more than 20 prospective properties were considered in uShip’s search.
Constructed in 1910, uShip’s future home was once owned by the Slaughter family, which originally operated a general store there.
The property changed hands in 1999 and underwent extensive renovation before McGarrah Jessee moved in. The ceiling was exposed and original wall paintings were uncovered to blend the building’s historical charm with modern infrastructure.
With average rental rates of more than $37 a square foot per year, downtown’s office market continues to outperform most of the suburban markets, Levin and Nickerson said.
Levin and Nickerson said employers like downtown and other centrally located office space, saying it encourages a creative atmosphere.
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Read the article on Statesman.com.