Airgroup Express is a transportation and logistics provider that generally moves customers’ freight but soon will have to move some for itself.
Barry Smith is moving his company from Valley Center to the CorTen building at the southeast corner of Douglas and Market in downtown Wichita.
“We’re bullish on downtown,” Smith says.
“I want to support downtown Wichita,” he says. “I believe in it.”
It’s also much more convenient for his business.
“We have a need to be at the Chamber of Commerce quite a bit for documentation reasons,” Smith says. “An office that’s three blocks from the Chamber is a dream.”
Smith owns Airgroup Express, which he started in 2002, but it’s affiliated with Seattle-based Radiant Global Logistics.
“We’re like a travel agent for customers’ freight,” Smith says. “That’s my elevator speech when people say, ‘What do you do?’”
He adds, though, that that “almost oversimplifies it.”
“Our specialty is what I would call … the challenging niche.”
For instance, a Wichita customer needing to ship a 3-pound box overnight might use another carrier, but a customer needing a 3-pound box delivered to an ethanol plant in four hours might call Airgroup Express.
The company also handles oversize pieces that are too big to put on a plane. It has its own drivers and coordinates with subcontractors for hauling.
Airgroup Express, which has been in Valley Center for about eight years, has three employees and is getting ready to add another one or two and needs more room.
Smith says he first began considering the CorTen building when developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey started transforming the former Merrill Lynch building.
“It caught my eye right away,” he says. “I kind of wanted to hold off and see what the finished product looked like.”
The first new occupants of the building have started moving in recently.
“I’m very impressed with what Mike and his group have done there,” Smith says.
Leisa Lowry and Krista Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons and April Winn of OnPoint Property Group handled the deal.
Smith is moving his company at the first of the year and says he’s looking forward to being part of the downtown mix.
“I love this city, and I like what I see that’s going on down there.”