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Heard on the Beat / Corporate

Burlington Moves Beyond Cargo Business

June 11, 1996|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

Burlington Air Express is one of those companies whose name barely begins to say it all.

Although widely known as an air cargo company, the Irvine-based unit of giant Pittson Co. actually is a $1.4-billion-a-year freight and logistics company that not only ships by land, sea and air but also handles warehousing, inventory control and most other supply-related work for clients.

For General Motors, Burlington has even developed a virtual warehouse system that handles a big chunk of the car maker's global parts supply needs from centers in Michigan, Mexico and the Netherlands. More than 100 Burlington employees work solely on GM business. Last year, Burlington's ocean services unit handled 700 trans-oceanic shipments of GM car parts each month--a total of 66,000 tons. And Burlington's air freight group shipped an additional 13,000 tons of machinery, parts, bumpers and engines for GM in an average of 1,500 flights a month.

In Singapore, Burlington has a unit that not only handles warehousing but actually assembles the personal computers that an industry-leading PC maker (headquartered east of the Mississippi) sells throughout Asia.

The company handles air shipments between the factory and the various racing teams of the expensive Cosworth engines used by many on the Indy Car circuit. The heavy engines are shipped by air because they are rebuilt after each race and there's not enough time to schlep them around on the ground.

John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations, manufacturing and economic issues for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at john.odell@latimes.com.

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