News Article | 1/23/2006

Medical supplier picks airport for warehouse site

An Illinois-based medical supply company will open a warehouse-distribution center at the San Bernardino International Airport, where it eventually plans to double its local work force.

Medline Industries Inc., which manufactures and distributes more than 100,000 products to hospitals, extended-care facilities and surgical centers, will occupy a 404,560-square-foot building at the former Norton Air Force Base, according to company officials.

The facility, which will service Southern California and Las Vegas, will be built on 20 acres at 1199 E. Mill St. The structure is expected to be ready for occupancy in September, said Bill Abington, president of operations and chief financial officer for Medline Industries in Mundelein, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

That property is part of the AllianceCalifornia project being developed by Hillwood, the Dallas-based company that is converting the former air base to civilian use as a cargo airport and business park. Mattel, Pep Boys and Kohl’s Corp. have opened major warehouse/distribution operations at the former Air Force base since December 2000.

Stater Bros. Markets will move its corporate headquarters and its warehouse/distribution operation in Colton to the former Air Force base during the first quarter of 2007.

The Medline deal was announced Jan. 18.

Hillwood will buy the 20 acres from the Inland Valley Development Agency, the regional joint powers group that oversees development at the former base. Hillwood will construct the building and sell it to Medline, Hillwood president John Magness said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Medline Industries operates 29 warehouse/distribution operations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Nine of those facilities serve specific hospitals or health care facilities; the rest supply territories.

The company employs about 100,000 people and it can provide next-day service to about 95 percent of the U.S. population, according to a release.

Medline currently operates a 200,000 square-foot warehouse-distribution operation at 14650 Meyer Canyon Drive in Fontana.

That facility, which Medline plans to sell, opened in 2001 and employs about 65 people, said Bob Waller, senior vice president of operations.

Over time, Medline plans to increase the work force at its San Bernardino operation to about 130 people.

“We’re experiencing so much growth in that area that we’re going to need more room,” Abington said. “We outgrew Fontana. We liked the air base site because the city was so cooperative and Hillwood did such a good job of cutting through the red tape. They were both fantastic.”

Abington declined to discuss sales figures for Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but the company reached $2 billion in sales during 2005, a 12 percent increase compared with 2004, he said.

Medline first approached Hillwood about locating at the former air base before it located in Fontana. But Hillwood was still assembling its master development agreement with the development authority and was unable to come to terms with Medline, Magness said.