Category: Distribution


Car parts retailer AutoZone is the latest company to secure a distribution home in the Central Valley. The Tennessee-based company with more than 6,000 stores in the U.S. — 640 in California — announced Thursday afternoon its plans to build a $150 million distribution center in the Madera County town of Chowchilla. Construction would begin this coming summer with a targeted opening in 2024.

The distribution center would create at least 280 news jobs, according to an Auto Zone news release. It would occupy in phases 750,000 square feet of warehouse space in the Chowchilla Industrial Park with close access to Highway 99. Referred to as “Project Sunset” by city planners, the distribution center has been about a year and a half in the making, said Bobby Kahn, executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission.

The Auto Zone announcement was actually first made at the State of the County Luncheon in Madera hosted by the EDC Thursday afternoon. “There’s no better way to close an economic development event than with a major project announcement,” Kahn said. “The timing was remarkable.”

Amazon Signs 1M SF Distribution Center in California

Amazon has filled yet another major order. The king of online sales signed a lease for a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Central California. It will be the anchor tenant at one of the largest industrial commerce complexes in the Western U.S., according to the landlord, Wonderful Real Estate. The massive industrial park is in the city of Shafter, bordering Bakersfield, and also includes major tenants like Walmart, Target, and Ross Stores.


Amazon opens in Visalia

Amazon is open and in full operation says the new general manager at the Visalia fulfillment center, Carlos Avelar. The 1.3 million square foot warehouse, the largest in the city, is on Riggin and Kelsey in the Visalia Industrial Park. “We have already hired nearly 1,000 on our way to 1,200 associates” said Avelar, adding they are “bringing on more employees than we originally anticipated.”

The original announcement said 1,000 jobs. Avelar said he moved his family to Visalia in July from Tracy where he had been manager for 2.5 years. ”The Central Valley has special place in my heart,” said Avelar, adding that he is looking forward to an open house soon, inviting local officials, and has already huddled with other industry managers at the industrial park to introduce himself. “We want to be part of the community,” he said.

The Visalia Amazon is different from any other Amazon in the Valley, being a “fulfillment center” that stores goods, mostly larger in size, to be shipped throughout the Valley. The closest similar facility is in Patterson, said Avelar. Within these fulfillment centers, associates pick, pack and ship larger-sized customer items ranging from boxes of diapers to patio umbrellas. “We picked Visalia to be close to our customers,” he said.

The next three months will be the busiest of the year for the big e-retailer says the general manager and at times they may add more than 1,200 to the workforce. Employees’ starting pay is at least $15.50 per hour and benefits including paid time off and dental care. New hires who show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination earn a $100 bonus on their first day. Avelar said employees appreciate the fact Amazon encourages associates to go to college and will pay to make it happen while they work here. Avelar said he “has heard the rumors” that there will be a second Amazon warehouse built in the industrial park — but for now ”it’s just that — a rumor.”

Ace Hardware Announces Large Distribution Center in Central California

Retailer-owned hardware cooperative Ace Hardware Corp., Oak Brook, IL, announced it plans to build a gigantic distribution center in Visalia, California. The new retail support center will occupy more than 1-million-square feet and bring more than 400 jobs to the area. The new facility will augment the company’s Rocklin, California — in the greater Sacramento area — and Prescott Valley, Arizona distribution centers and will be centrally located in California, between Sacramento and Los Angeles.

The new Visalia distribution center will serve more than 300 Ace affiliated stores. Ace’s network of global distribution facilities serve more than 5,500 retail locations. Construction is slated to begin later this year. Ace said the distribution center would be fully operational in early 2023. “Ace Hardware continuously evaluates distribution capabilities to ensure we meet our growing business demands and offer the best support and service to Ace retailers and our wholesale customers,” said Jeff Gooding, Corporate Vice President of Marketing, Ace Hardware. “Opening this new facility is essential for Ace to keep up with our historic growth and better serve our network of retailers, and ultimately, our Ace customers.”

The Visalia distribution center will feature new technology, a climate-controlled environment, and improved automation to help to help streamline and enhance operations. It will also include space for future expansions.

Hardware distribution company to hire 400 in Visalia

The “helpful hardware folks” say Visalia is the place for Ace … to build their distribution center. Illinois-based Ace Hardware, with its popular jingle “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks,” will open a 1 million square foot distribution center in Visalia in the next year. Developer Seefried Industries filed for a permit to build the complex on Aug. 6. The permit names Ace Hardware as the tenant. The permit is valued at $90 million with the contractor listed as Clayco who has built other projects for Seefried including the Amazon warehouse in Fresno.

Seefried had previously presented a detailed site-plan for the 81-acre property it is buying at Plaza Drive and Ferguson Avenue in the Visalia Industrial Park which stated the tenant would hire 400 employees working in two to three shifts. Seefried Western Manager Sean Sheppard confirmed the deal this week saying he hoped the warehouse would be open by October of next year. The news is further evidence the logistics industry has selected Visalia as one of the best places to reach California markets within a day’s drive, delivering goods overnight directly to customers in Southern California and the Bay Area.

This would be the 18th Ace distribution center in the U.S. with one in Sacramento. The new Visalia center will serve hundreds of Ace Hardware stores, including three in Tulare County. The company continues to expand with 11 new locations in California this year. The private company is a cooperative with an ownership stake by each local store. There are nearly 5,500 stories in the U.S. Visalia has a large store across from the Visalia Mall, Nelson’s Ace Hardware, in the former Orchard Supply Hardware. Other local Ace cooperatives include Exeter Mercantile Co., Dinuba Lumber Co. and Wiesenberger’s Ace Hardware in Porterville.

Phoenix-based Seefried’s operational statement filed in June, described a 1,033,180 square foot warehouse and distribution facility (+/-1,002,980 square feet of warehouse and +/-30,200 square feet of office) to be constructed on a 81.35 acre parcel located at the southwest corner of north Plaza Drive and west Ferguson Avenue. The parcel is the largest remaining open-space piece in the heart of the industrial park, formerly known as the Jacuzzi property. It has frontage on both Plaza and Goshen Avenue.

The square footage description filed in June exactly matches the permit request filed recently for Ace Hardware. While there has been no announcement (Amazon was quiet for many months), Ace will likely lease the new warehouse from the developer, as they have elsewhere.


The site can accommodate a future expansion of 356,160 square feet, which is not being contemplated for now, but would bring the total size of the facility to 1.4 million square feet. The design of the site provides 752 auto parking stalls (15 accessible per code) and 304 trailer stalls. The facility will be constructed to a height of 55 feet above current grade to accommodate a minimum clear height within the facility of 40 feet, and parapets around the perimeter to screen mechanical equipment on the roof. The facility will be fully conditioned with an Early Suppression, Fast Response (ESFR) fire sprinkler system and code required fire alarm system. Access will be provided through driveways off Plaza Drive, Fergusson Avenue and a private access road just south of the facility. Trucks will utilize Ferguson primarily and employees will utilize Plaza. There will be a main point of access to the facility off Plaza through the office area, with code required fire access around the perimeter.


The statement continues that this “facility will operate 24 hours, 7 days a week utilizing +/-400 employees in two (2) shifts (8:00 am-5:00 pm- DAY and 6:00 pm-4:00 am- NIGHTS). It is estimated that 280 employees will operate during the day shift, and 120 employees during the night shift.”

Ace Hardware successfully competes with rival big box hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s reporting record fourth quarter revenues of $2.1 billion – an increase of 39.2 percent from last year and record fourth quarter net income of $43.1 million, an increase of $39.6 million from last year. Ace’s same store sales were up 28.7 percent during the quarter and 25.9 percent for the year. An Ace company report describes how US customers recently funneled a “disproportionate share of their discretionary spending into their homes and gardens” as the possible reason for the increase.

Founded in 1924 as “Ace Stores,” the company changed its name to “Ace Hardware Corporation” in 1931. After the retirement of longtime president and founder Richard Hesse in 1973, Ace was sold to its retailers, becoming a retailer-owned cooperative. It first reached $1 billion in wholesale sales in 1985 and $5 billion in 2015. The hardware store advertises itself as a neighborhood store featuring employees who, in contrast to big box help, offer caring assistance on do-it-yourself projects. A few years ago they changed their popular jingle from “Helpful hardware men” to “ hardware folks.”

Landing the large retailer is another huge catch for the Visalia Industrial Park which has recently seen the opening of the new UPS hub and the 1.2 million square foot Amazon fulfillment center to open this fall next door. And there is more to come. Work is expected to begin next month on another million square foot-plus, tilt-up building to the north of Amazon. With the addition of this $90 million permit, the city will have permitted over $100 million in new commercial projects in 2021 so far – on pace to exceed last year’s total of $182 million and 2.4 million square feet.

New construction near Grapevine highlights surge in local speculative development

Speculative development is picking up across Kern County’s industrial real estate industry, evident most recently in a large warehouse now under construction along Interstate 5 at the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center. As the latest joint venture between Lebec-based Tejon Ranch Co. and Southern California development titan Majestic Realty Co., the 629,274-square-foot distribution center-style project spreads across nearly 39 acres near the foot of The Grapevine. With 136 dock-high doors, it is expected to be ready for one or more tenants to move in within about a year.

The project is the latest in a growing trend of speculative development gaining momentum locally. Most of the buildings under construction are major undertakings measuring hundreds of thousands of square feet, but there are also some as small as 10,000 square feet — and that kind of building activity has not been seen in Kern for years. The developments are noteworthy not because they stand out in a landscape increasingly dotted with large warehouses, in a region that clearly benefits from a lack of available distribution space in Southern California. What’s more striking is the pace at which such investments are happening and the confidence they reflect on the part of developers.

Bakersfield industrial real estate broker Wayne Kress said investors have reacted with greater urgency during the last three years to the county’s central location offering the ability to reach 40 million consumers within a single day’s truck drive. Warehouse tenants in Kern can easily reach ports in Southern and Northern California, and they don’t have to deal with the congested market for industrial property in the traditional logistics hub of the Inland Empire. Kress, a principal at Cushman & Wakefield | Pacific Commercial Realty Advisors in Bakersfield, noted two “spec” developments 1 million square feet or larger under development in Shafter, one at the Wonderful Industrial Park and one next to it. Others are in the works locally as well but Kress said he was not at liberty to discuss them.

Local industrial broker Boyd Binninger, ASU Commercial’s senior vice president of industrial services, said demand is growing lately for smaller buildings as well. He pointed to two spec buildings where construction began about a month ago at the Silver Wings Commercial Center near Meadows Field Airport. One measures about 15,000 square feet, he said, and the other about 10,000 square feet. By his reckoning, it’s been about seven years or more since speculative development of that size took place in the Bakersfield area. “We hadn’t seen a lot of spec building with the exception of the big boys,” he said, adding the developer hopes to undertake additional spec development once the projects now underway lease up.

The tenants expected to fill those spaces will probably be in manufacturing or small distribution operations, he said. What has made such projects difficult, aside from the risk that comes with spec development, is recently high materials costs. Even so, he predicted more industrial development will take place near the airport as such projects gain momentum in the years ahead. Tejon Ranch Co.’s executive vice president of real estate, Joseph N. Rentfro, said in a news release it was very pleased to be working again with Majestic, reportedly the largest privately held industrial developer in the United States. The two companies first partnered in 2016 on a fully leased, 651,909-square-foot property they owned and managed together. Since then, they have spec-developed a 480,480-square-foot building and another measuring 579,040 square feet, both of which reportedly met with strong pre-lease activity and remain fully leased. The two companies’ latest joint venture is their largest spec project to date. “Given the historical success we’ve enjoyed without previous speculative building developments, the lack of vacant space within the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and the level of demand inquiries we’re fielding for light manufacturing, warehouse and distribution space out of Southern California and elsewhere,” Rentfro stated, “we wanted to move as quickly as possible to bring another new building online.”

The commerce center near the merger of Interstate 5 and Highway 99 is a master-planned retail and industrial development spanning 1,450 acres. For its part, Majestic sees the latest partnership with Tejon Ranch as attractive to tenants seeking a low-cost option compared with the Los Angeles Basin, where it said costs related to living, labor and rentals are relatively high. It said the building will have 136 dock-high doors and a 36-foot clear height. “Beginning with our initial partnership agreement in 2016, we’ve remained incredibly bullish about Tejon Ranch and we’re excited to be breaking ground on our third new building with a partner that sees and is committed to implementing a development vision through the same long-term lens,” Majestic Realty Co. Vice President Tom Simmons said in its news release.

City confirms Amazon project at former Kmart

Confirmation arrived Friday that Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon will convert the former Kmart store on Wilson Road into a “last-mile delivery station” as part of a $20 million renovation project expected to create 200 new jobs when the facility becomes operational later this year. The project, first reported by The Californian in December, elicited praise from city officials who view it as a community asset sure to improve service to residents while also beautifying what some have described as blighted property along a major commercial corridor in south Bakersfield. “This innovative local facility means our community gets even better service when they order their packages online,” Mayor Karen Goh said in a news release sent out Friday. “This announcement also lets business leaders know that Bakersfield welcomes industries and innovators ready to grow and expand in California.”

The news release contained no comment from Amazon, which in recent months has declined to address the project. Last summer the company opened a massive distribution “fulfillment” center just north of Meadows Field Airport. Since then it has announced plans for another such facility in Shafter. Each of those two projects is expected to employ 1,000 full- and part-time employees.

Paperwork filed with the city called for a majority of the former shopping center property’s 128,150-square-foot footprint to remain in place. But it said the shopping center’s eastern portion would be bulldozed to accommodate driving access and parking. The demolition was expected to take out several small businesses that had been operating on the property. The paperwork also said the proposed facility would receive and sort six truckloads of consumer goods per day. Products would then be loaded onto 20 delivery vans and shipped out in staggered departure times to avoid causing congestion.

An Orange County public relations firm that issued Friday’s news release on the city of Bakersfield’s behalf said the property has been purchased by Greenlaw Partners, an Irvine real estate developer. Greenlaw had also been negotiating to buy a separate series of properties near Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, and people involved in those talks said Amazon was the intended operator. It was unclear whether the company remains interested in those additional properties. The PR firm that issued the news release declined to say whether Amazon expects to open additional last-mile stations in Kern. Greenlaw and Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment. The news release said renovations to the Wilson Road site will benefit the local neighborhood and improve Wilson Road by adding a new parking lot, lighting and attractive landscaping. It said there will be a new roof and bay doors will be installed to accommodate delivery service.

Bakersfield Assistant City Manager Jacqui Kitchen called the project an “outstanding opportunity for Bakersfield.” “Amazon’s new facility will revitalize an empty building in the city that no longer served our residents,” she stated in Friday’s news release. “The conversion of this former big box site into an innovative last-mile e-commerce facility aligns with the changing needs of local consumers and the city looks forward to working with Amazon to help integrate the new operations into our city and provide a significant boost to our local economy.”

Kmart closed its store at the shopping center just west of Highway 99 in early 2017. That was followed by the closure of a Big Lots store located next door. Since then, the owner of an apartment complex to the south has complained that the mostly vacant center has attracted transients who sometimes hop a fence onto its property.

Camping World to open distribution center in Tejon Ranch Commerce Center

Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) is pleased to announce Camping World Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CWH) as the newest addition at Tejon Ranch Commerce Center (TRCC). Camping World is in the process of relocating operations from their 160,000 sq ft distribution center in Bakersfield to a brand new 389,160 sq ft location within TRCC, and has agreed to a multi-year lease within a 579,160 sq ft building within TRCC owned by TRC and its partner in the building Majestic Realty. “We are happy to welcome Camping World to our ever-expanding Tejon Ranch Commerce Center neighborhood. Their relocation to TRCC is a testament to the value of our central location and adjacency to both Interstate 5 and Hwy 99 – making it the ideal and opportune place for companies wanting to expand in
California to locate their business.” said Joseph N. Rentfro, executive vice president of real estate at Tejon Ranch Co.

TRCC is growing to maximum capacity and remains 100% leased as well as 100% occupied. TRCC’s 1,450- acre state of the art development is located at the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in Kern County and features 20 million square feet of fully-entitled commercial and industrial space. In addition to Camping World’s recent relocation to TRCC, the commerce center has also enabled recent expansions by existing businesses like Dollar General and IKEA, welcomed L’OREAL, and is also home to the major distribution centers of like Famous Footwear and Caterpillar.

Wonderful Company Adds Amazon to its Tenant Roster at Wonderful Industrial Park

Wonderful Real Estate Development has landed Amazon as an anchor tenant at Wonderful Industrial Park (WIP) on the heels of Walmart Inc. taking occupancy at the industrial commerce park – one of the largest in the Western U.S. Amazon leased a 1 million-square-foot building on 72-acres located at 4500 Express within Wonderful Industrial Park, and joins other large occupiers in the park such as Ross Stores with +3 million square feet on 130 acres, Target’s 2 million square feet on 80 acres and, Walmart at 630,000 square feet and 80 feet of clear height on 60 acres. Walmart’s new state of the art grocery-focused distribution center incorporates the most sophisticated automated sorting equipment and systems in the industry.

With Amazon, WIP is now approaching 10 million square feet of occupied space. Other WIP occupants include Essendant (Staples, Inc), American Tire Distributors, Formica, and Hillman as well as other 3PLs who have found WIP’s location and amenities extremely profitable. “Despite Covid-19, the commercial real estate story of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 continues to be how hot the industrial market is, with tenants like Ross, Walmart and now, Amazon, choosing to locate these major mission-critical facilities at WIP in consecutive years. It not only validates our location and development model, but adds an exclamation mark to industrial activity across the U.S.,” said Joe Vargas, President of Wonderful Real Estate Development.

In the first quarter of 2021, Wonderful will also break ground on its latest speculative development, 3800 Fanucchi Way. 3800 Fanucchi Way will feature 1,063,000 square feet, 40 feet of clear height, 215-dock high doors, and parking expandable to 1,000 stalls to accommodate trailers and employee spaces. The building will be delivered in the fourth quarter 2021. This facility will be located on a 70-acre site with a building-to-site coverage of 35%.

Valley counties see demand for warehouse space

As more of us shop online, the demand for warehouse and distribution centers is going up. “E-commerce is drawing a lot of the growth around here. For us, we’re a support business towards that e-commerce, so that’s actually a big piece of our business,” said Christian Ueland, TranPak owner They’re just one of the businesses in the Freedom Industrial Park.Madera County Economic Development officials expect more growth. “We’re seeing a lot of pressure for warehouse space, e-commerce types of facilities, logistics, distribution centers. Just all kinds of warehouse and logistics facilities,” said Bobby Kahn, Madera County Economic Development Executive Director.Bobby Kahn with the Madera County Economic Development says the pandemic accelerated e-commerce and companies are looking for space to keep up and ahead across the country and here in the Valley. Fulfillment centers take 64 million square feet nationwide. “The recent report by CBRE, which is a national real estate company, ranked the Central Valley as the number three growth area in the nation so that just shows the impact the Central San Joaquin Valley is having nationwide, not just here locally, statewide, nationally,” Kahn said.

Why is the Valley so attractive? “If you’re going to be doing commerce or e-commerce, you’re going to be distributing to both ends of the state, it centers you right here in the middle. Secondly, the cost of property and availability of property,” Kahn said. These Projects could bring Jobs and added tax revenues. Madera County says it’s working on projects and partnerships, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens next. Overall, the Central Valley seems to be in the right place to help companies and e-commerce growth in the future.