A Delaware small business specializing in used-car exports to Central America is ranked among the fastest-growing companies in America by Entrepreneur magazine, reported in www.delawareonline.com.
Port to Port International Corp., a shipping company located south of Wilmington, Del. was named to the "Hot 500" list released by Entrepreneur and Corporate Research Board, a Washington D.C.-based research organization, which chose from a database of 19 million U.S. businesses. About 95,000 businesses met the criteria for Hot 500 companies, including that the companies have been founded between 1998 and 2002, increased employment between 2002 and 2006, and had annual sales exceeding $1 million but under $1 billion. Of those, 500 companies were chosen.
Founded by Anabel Panayotti in 1998, Port to Port has managed to make a name for itself in the maritime community in Delaware because of its unique business and exponential growth in recent years.
Four years ago, Port to Port consisted of a container office with about a dozen workers on a 6-acre lot on Pyles Lane near the Port of Wilmington. Today, the company owns 24 acres and employs about 50 workers with offices in Wilmington, Del., Costa Rica, Honduras and another one soon to be opened in Guatemala.
The business began with a $15,000 investment in 1998 and earned its first million the following year. In 2006, annual sales for Port to Port were $16.8 million.
Behind Port to Port's growth is what seems like an unquenchable demand for used cars in Central America. Since there are no large auto manufacturers in that region, and most people there can't afford to import new, expensive cars from the United States and other countries, exporting used cars is big business.
The company ships 560 used cars a week to Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua on empty banana ships owned by Chiquita and Dole heading back to Central America from Wilmington. More recently, Port to Port has been chartering additional ships on its own to export its vehicles.