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Two local firms team up for major shipping deal to Middle East

Winter Park’s Wheeled Coach Industries manufactured this Chevrolet Type II ambulance for the Saudi Red Crescent Authority in Saudi Arabia, and will begin shipping 440 units on May 15 out of Jacksonville Port.
Winter Park’s Wheeled Coach Industries manufactured this Chevrolet Type II ambulance for the Saudi Red Crescent Authority in Saudi Arabia, and will begin shipping 440 units on May 15 out of Jacksonville Port. (provided)

An Orlando-based cargo logistics firm and Winter Park's Wheeled Coach Industries have teamed up to send 400 new ambulances to Saudi Arabia beginning this month, in one of the largest international shipping deals of the year, company officials told GrowthSpotter.

The client, humanitarian aid non-profit group the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, will begin receiving parceled shipments from local ambulance manufacturer Wheeled Coach on May 15, with the international shipping coordinated by UniWorld International, a freight forwarding company based in Orlando since 1997.

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"This is one of the biggest shipping contracts of the year, multiple shipping companies and shipping lines were vying for this," said Tareq Shrourou, general manager of UniWorld, who said the contract is worth between $500,000 and $1 million to his firm.

UniWorld coordinates shipping logistics for everything from personal items to volume orders of automobiles and commercial goods. The company generated $8 million in revenue in 2014 and expects to top $10 million this year, Shrourou said, with growth to come from a focus on greater revenue-generating areas like sourcing automobiles overseas and shipping large machinery.

Wheeled Coach is considered one of the largest ambulance manufacturers in the world, converting chassis from automakers like Chevrolet into finished ambulances. A spokesman for Wheeled Coach declined to comment on Monday regarding the value of the 400-vehicle sale.

UniWorld was chosen through a competitive bid by the client's distributor in Saudi Arabia, and coordinated international shipping lines for the ambulances. The Port of Jacksonville was chosen as a loading point in Florida because its specializes in roll-on and roll-off loading for vehicles.

UniWorld is in the midst of opening its first international office later this year, in Dubai. The company's ownership roots lie in the Middle East, and while UniWorld serves every market, its bread and butter has traditionally been sending used automobiles to the Middle East from Orlando's high concentration of auto auctions. Saudi Arabia is the world's no. 1 importer of used automobiles.

bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that 440 ambulances were sold by Wheeled Coach in the deal. 

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