Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 8, 2019 4:21 p.m.
As people stroll along Fernandina Beach’s Centre Street, window shopping and enjoying their ice cream cones, most are oblivious to what’s happening on the second floors of all those historic buildings. There are architects, insurance agents, attorneys, various consultants and other service providers conducting business above the retail shops.
One of the more intriguing upstairs businesses we found recently is Sheltered International. From the name you would be hard put to guess what it does. Tents? Animal shelters? Hurricane shelters? The answer is none of the above. But its staff works literally all over the world to move freight from country to country, into and out of the world’s ports, helping businesses receive and supply goods that eventually enter the retail market place. And thanks to the wonders of technology, they can move tons of goods daily from a small office over Fantastic Fudge at 1 South Third Street.
Sheltered International is a fully licensed U.S. Customs Brokerage, NVOCC and Freight Forwarder at all airports, seaports, and land border points nationwide. It focuses on technology to improve service for all shipping whether by air, ocean, rail, or truck.
Their technology solutions provide clients with complete visibility from quoting to tracking, reducing the need to wait on emails and phone calls., their proprietary online platform helps clients instantly rate and track cargo.
Company president Andrew Ciccarone, a graduate of Fernandina Beach High School and Florida State University. heads up the company team. After college and a brief stints working for ZZ Toys on Centre Street and other businesses, Ciccarone became intrigued with the import-export business and decided to strike out on his own. He became a licensed customs broker and developed the architecture for a software system that could manage and track the logistics of moving products from manufacturers to markets while navigating shipping options, time frames and customs in a way that dramatically reduced the traditional time such shipping would take.
According to the latest figures from their website they network 6,962 offices in 819 cities in 190 countries.
Local companies that use their services include Venus Fashion, a Jacksonville clothing company and Well Traveled Living, a Fernandina Beach based company. And for those devotees of petanque, Philippe Boets of Petanque America imports petanque boules and related merchandise for online sales using Sheltered International’s services.
Ciccarone says that a major portion of Sheltered International’s business involves importing clothing and consumer goods much of which comes from Asia through the Port of Los Angeles. The bulk of their local business involves exporting: shipping to Bermuda via the Port of Fernandina.
Sheltered International’s Fernandina office is company headquarters; however, they have a branch office in Bogota, Colombia. Both offices are connected electronically via TV screens so that the company’s total workforce of nine can see and hear all the company’s activities simultaneously. Since Bogota is in the same time zone, it further improves communication between offices.
For more information about Sheltered International, including career opportunities, visit their website.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.