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Courier Service Puts Hollywood in Flight

July 07, 1994|MARY MOORE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Eleven years ago, Christine Jerry-Storey started an air courier service with a small Venice office, a pickup truck and a $10,000 loan.

Today, her business, Midnite Express, is an $18 million-a-year, 24-hour-a-day enterprise with headquarters in Inglewood and offices in New York, London, Paris, Sydney and--by the end of the year--Hong Kong. It ranks as the 11th largest female-owned business in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. And Jerry-Storey is a nominee for one of Inc. magazine's annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

The secret?

Making deliveries for movie studios and record companies--anytime, anywhere.

"We never say never; we never say no," says Jerry-Storey, who is president and majority shareholder of Midnite Express. Her husband, Keith Storey, is chief executive officer.

Midnite Express has about 150 employees working out of its headquarters but getting the job done sometimes means that the Storeys must take to the air themselves.

Linda Corbett, manager of traffic and shipping for the Motion Picture Marketing Division of Paramount Studios, remembers one such occasion. With only a couple of hours notice, Keith Storey traveled from Los Angeles to Australia, hand-carrying T-shirts promoting "Crocodile Dundee II."

"I met Keith and Christine at the airport, we stuffed the T-shirts into empty suitcases . . . and he jumped onto the plane at the last minute," Corbett says.

Making domestic and international business deliveries for all of the Hollywood studios and major record labels is Midnite Express' bread and butter. But the company also serves as a personal delivery service for some of the industry's celebrities.

Sweat socks, a jogging suit and pizza are among the specially requested items that the company has rushed to celebrities in locations around the world.

"One time we delivered a bottle of perfume to Paris, which I thought was a little odd," Keith Storey says.

More typical deliveries for Midnite Express are movie "standees," which are cardboard advertising cutouts, and other promotional items. These days, the loading docks at Midnite Express are piled high with cardboard cartons filled with stuffed animals and marked "Flintstones,"while other long, flat boxes carry "Lassie" standees.

"You can't open a movie without these," says Nadia Bronson, vice president of international marketing for Universal Studios. "Every week we coordinate shipments through Midnite Express to more than 60 countries."

For the recent Cannes Film Festival, Midnite Express carried 40 delivery bags a day to France, each filled with promotional material and every shipment accompanied by a personal courier. One of these deliveries was 400 pounds of suntan lotion that Columbia Records needed in Cannes the next day for a promotional give-away.

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