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PBB Global Logistics, a Fort Erie-based customs brokerage, is moving to larger distribution quarters in Tonawanda for the second time in two years.

The privately-held company, which has U.S. headquarters at 434 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, has outgrown its City of Tonawanda warehouse and will relocate its distribution center to a nearby facility that's nearly twice as large. PBB will move from a 40,000-square-foot warehouse at 555 Young St. to a 78,000-square-foot center at 670 Young St.

"We saw the need to move to something significantly larger," said Mike Scott, PBB's president and chief executive officer. "There's definitely a growing market for our services, as well as growth within our current client base."

Scott predicted the larger distribution operation will lead to hiring when the new site begins processing expanded volume. However, there is no timetable for boosting the company's work force.

The customs brokerage had operated a 25,000-square-foot warehouse on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo prior to its move to Tonawanda in 1999. The prime target of PBB's Buffalo operation is Canadian companies looking for a base to ship goods into the U.S.

"They want to be active in the U.S., to respond quickly to orders and we can offer them a unique package of warehousing and logistics," Scott said.

The company, formerly called Peace Bridge Brokerage, was the first Canadian-owned national brokerage to open an office in the U.S. in 1985.

Founded in 1946 as a one-person company in Fort Erie, PBB currently employs more than 1,100 people in 70 offices throughout North America, including 200 staffers at its Buffalo and Tonawanda sites, plus personnel at the area's international bridges.

PBB has attracted attention in the international logistics and freight forwarding industry for its growing relationships in China. In April, the company led its second trade mission to several regions of China, where representatives of 20 Canadian companies met with Chinese business executives and government officials. That growing relationship will be displayed today, when Mei Ping, Chinese ambassador to Canada, is scheduled to visit the PBB Fort Erie office.

The Tonawanda distribution center became available this spring when veteran catalog showroom retailer, Brand Names, shuttered the 49-year-old business in the face of growing competition and declining profits. Buffalo's Benderson Development, which owns the warehouse, as well as four of the 11 now-empty Brand Names stores, said leasing to PBB goes a long way toward refilling all that space.

"They've been a tenant of ours, so we already have a relationship and know they are a good fit," said Benderson's Rex Burgher.

The developer has had preliminary talks with retailers regarding the vacant storefronts located at Buffalo's Delaware Consumer Square, Hamburg's Town Hall Plaza, and Boulevard Consumer Square and 2383 Maple Road in Amherst. Those sites total more than 150,000-square-feet of retail space.

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