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Trucking Firm Begins Building New Burbank Office

More than a year after purchasing a piece of aviation history, Ardwin Freight broke ground on its new Burbank headquarters in late November, eyeing its new upscale office as a recruiting tool that will guide the trucking firm’s expansion. The parcel adjacent to Bob Hope Airport still is in a state of rubble, but the Sun Valley company — and at least 45 employees — will be moving in as soon as the building is complete, hopefully in 10 months, said Edwin Sahakian, the company’s chief executive. Sahakian said the firm has outgrown its current location and Sun Valley’s crime, including a prostitution problem, has scared away quality talent. “I think our walls are probably half an inch to three quarters of an inch thicker because we have repainted the building so many times because of graffiti,” he said. “You look at our building you wouldn’t think that company is doing that well.” Sahakian said by the time the Burbank headquarters is finished he plans to have added on 10 employees, raising the company’s rolls to about 55. And in roughly three years, Ardwin hopes to have 100 employees. A big part of the expansion, Sahakian said, is plans to “create an alliance” between companies in a fragmented shipping industry so “we can provide the customers every lane possible.” Sahakian declined to be more specific because plans are not finalized. “I think we can hire better talent,” with the new building, he said. The industrial area also is a better fit for the freight company than its current location in a partially residential neighborhood, Sahakian said. Ardwin purchased the 110,000-square-foot site — once home to Pacific Airmotive Corp. — in 2010. Pacific, which shuttered in the mid-1990s, was believed to have overhauled one of Amelia Earhart’s planes. Sahakian, an aerospace buff who owns two planes, said he purchased the property for about $4.5 million in cash and plans to spend about $3 million to build Ardwin’s new headquarters. “We have been around for 23 years. We are very conservative,” he said, of the company’s financial strategy. “We are trying not to go crazy but (will) use up some of our reserves to expand.” Attracting a growing business that’s building a new headquarters is a boon for Burbank, said Mary Hamzoian, the city’s economic development manager. “It’s great. We have a new company moving into the city and investing in a new building and jobs,” she said. “It just shows there are still companies willing to invest and that are growing.” After revenue fell off in 2009, Ardwin, which transports primarily groceries and paper, has grown steadily. It expects to make about $26 million in revenue, up 18 percent from last year. The growth, Sahakian said, can be laid on several factors, including a slow economic recovery and adding new routes from existing customers. Some of the growth has simply been due to a more aggressive approach by employees, Sahakian said, noting the company realigned its bonuses to reward employees when they increase company profits. Since May, Ardwin has added about 10 employees in Sun Valley to handle operations in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and North and South Dakota, expanding the firm’s reach beyond its core Western routes, Sahakian said.

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