Brian Crossley moved to Jacksonville from Wisconsin in 1986 and took a job at Barnett Brass & Copper on the Westside.
He was 25, having graduated from college in 1984.
Leaving the Rust Belt seemed a good idea, and with an older brother in Gainesville, moving to Jacksonville made sense too.
"I was young, single, ambitious and Florida sounded great," he said.
By 1993, Crossley started his own company – BC Industrial Supply – and now, two decades later, he's heading back to where he started.
Crossley expects to buy the old Barnett Brass & Copper building at 3333 Lenox St. by the end of the month and, after renovations, move in during early 2014.
He's not buying the building for nostalgic reasons, although he did meet his wife, Joyce, there.
And they are moving back into the building with their adult daughter, Sheena Lang, on staff.
"It's kind of poetic," Crossley said. "It's kind of cool."
But that had nothing to do with the decision to buy it, he said.
Crossley said the structure is available at a good price, owning makes more sense to him than leasing and it's a larger location.
He's been leasing space for most of the time he's been in business, which he started in his yard and moved to progressively larger spaces, ending with his current site in North Jacksonville at 10592 Balmoral Circle E. in the Busch Drive Business Park, near the Anheuser-Busch brewery and Sam's Wholesale Club. He's been there about 14 years.
The 71,000-square-foot Lenox Avenue building is more than twice the size of the 31,000 square feet he leases now.
Crossley said he employs about 20 people at the site and eventually expects to add more at the Lenox location.
He opened a branch in 2002 in Mulberry, where the company has five employees, to serve customers in South and Central Florida.
Crossley, 54, said he had worked for a couple of small contracting supply companies, but launching his own venture seemed to be a better opportunity.
"It's been a lot of work," he said. "But I've enjoyed almost all of it." The "worry end" isn't as much fun, but that's part of owning a business.
In site-searching, he wanted to stay close to his manufacturing and contracting customers, who primarily are north and west of the St. Johns River.
He also said there wasn't a large supply of single-use warehouses for sale.
Crossley said the Lenox Avenue site "was a bargain," but declined to say how much he expects to pay for the 2.4-acre property. Duval County property records show it carries a 2012 taxable value of $709,300.
His total investment also will include renovations, equipment and furnishings.
A pending building permit shows that ShayCore Enterprises Inc. will renovate it at a project cost of $762,000.
The building comprises a warehouse and a two-story office area.
Crossley is president and owner. His wife works there part-time and Lang is the office manager of the sister company, BC Industrial Repair, which rents and repair the tools BC Industrial sells. (A 17-year-old daughter is a high school senior.)
The bcindustrialsupply.com website describes the company with an up-to-date showroom, an in-house tool repair shop and a large warehouse for the industrial tools, equipment, accessories and supplies.
BC Industrial's inventory includes abrasives, air tools, saws, hydraulic lifting tools, ladders, electric power tools, pipefitting supplies and welding supplies, to name a few categories.
The tool repair division handles hydraulics, pneumatics, small engine repair, minibikes and go-carts, among others.
Crossley serves the economy's front-line industries and says the market is back-and-forth – a quarter of growth and then a slowdown.
He understands the ebb and flow of the business cycle, crediting his employees and customers for the growth.
"It is their accomplishment too, and they are as proud as I am," he said of his employees. "We are a family here."
He also thanks his customers. "I have many customers who have been with me the entire time I have been in business. They bought from me when it would have been easier to buy somewhere else," he said. "I will always be grateful to them for that."
The business cycle isn't just daily; it's also a lifecycle.
"We are all growing old together, we will retire together and I would like that to be known as well," he said.
Samsung continues expansion
Samsung Electronics America Inc., which quietly opened a Westlake Industrial Park distribution center late last year and early this year, appears to be expanding.
The city issued a permit for The Conlan Co. to install six new dock pits with levelers and hardware at Samsung's center at 12400 Presidents Court.
The project carries a project cost of $67,669 within the 400,000-square-foot warehouse.
The Daily Record reported in February that Samsung Electronics America Inc. was issued a business license at Westlake, which is north of Interstate 10 and west of I-295.
The city approved a construction permit in September 2012 for building shell improvements of 140,000 square feet, specifically 12 dock levelers, within the 400,000-square-foot center.
The Daily Record reported then that the company planned to open a Jacksonville warehouse for its home appliances division.
The South Korea-based maker of electronics, home appliances and other products, had posted a job opening for a Jacksonville warehouse manager who "will manage the dedicated Home Appliance warehouse during the new business launch."
Samsung has not commented.
Swisher notifies state of 172 layoffs
Swisher International Inc. notified the state Tuesday that it will cut 172 jobs between Dec. 13-27.
The cuts are part of the 250 local jobs the Jacksonville-based cigar maker said Sept. 20 that it would eliminate over the next 12 months as part of a plan to transfer production of some products from its Jacksonville facility to the Dominican Republic.
Swisher, based at 459 E. 16th St., filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Notice with the state.
Swisher cut 150 jobs last year, but the company said it is committed to maintaining as many jobs as possible in Jacksonville. It said in September it will continue to employ more than 500 people at its East 16 Street facility, north of Downtown.
Swisher was founded in Ohio in 1861 and moved to Jacksonville in 1924.
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