The new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock opened Thursday morning with big smiles and news of more jobs.
The massive 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse was built from the ground up at Fulkerth Road and Fransil Lane over the last year and a half. The grand opening celebration included the announcement of some 500 more jobs than previously predicted to staff the facility once fully operational. Initially, the online retail giant said it planned to hire some 1,000 workers in Turlock, but now expects to employ 1,500. “This is huge!” said Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, who was among a handful of dignitaries and their representatives at the ribbon-cutting for the center. “It was just a dream that we get this area together and that we start to bring big businesses here, big opportunities for jobs. …. This will be a benefit for decades for our community.”
Turlock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gina Blom, left, and Yosemite Community College District Chancellor Henry Yong, Amazon Turlock Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez and Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak cut the ceremonial ribbon Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, to open the new fulfillment center on Fulkerth Road in Turlock, Calif.
The new facility, the first for Turlock and only the second in Stanislaus County from the e-commerce company, received its first shipment Sept. 25 and has been slowly ramping up production as it works to get fully staffed. The fulfillment center, which began construction in April 2021, had to push back its original projected opening date of “mid-2022” to late September. Like its smaller counterpart in Patterson, which opened in 2013, the new Turlock facility is a so-called nonsortable fulfillment center, meaning it stocks, picks, packs and ships large, bulk or otherwise unusually sized items.
Inside, the floor is filled with 40-foot-high rows that are being filled with everything from patio furniture to outdoor grills, mini-fridges and area rugs. Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez, a Modesto native turned Turlock resident who previously worked in a Tracy Amazon site, said the new center is only about 7% stocked. Inventory is expected to be at 30% by the holidays, with the facility stocked at full capacity by February. A worker sorts items inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif. Oct. 20, 2022.
Already, Amazon has hired hundreds of workers to begin filling its shifts. The facility operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has 12 shifts across its schedule. Hundreds of more openings are expected, with new workers joining daily, Ramirez said.
Starting salary for the new floor positions start at $18.75, or $39,000 a year for full-time workers. The Turlock starting wages are just shy of the new $19 average hourly wage the company announced in September that it was rolling out for most of its front-line warehouse and transportation workers across the country. But Amazon spokeswoman Natalie Banke said wages vary “city by city,” and the $19 was a national average, not the national minimum starting salary. The Turlock salary is the same as Patterson’s, which employs about 600 workers. A worker moves items Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif.
The company also plans to hire an additional 200 to 300 seasonal workers in Turlock, starting now, who will help with the holiday rush. Ramirez said he expects it to take six months to a year for the new Turlock center to be fully staffed. Banke said about 92% of employees so far live in Stanislaus County. On the warehouse floor, a small armada of red hydrogen-powered forklifts zip along rows and rows of 40-foot racks. Associates are lifted 30-plus feet into the air to stock and pick items, with others sorting and shipping on the floor of its two levels. Items then go from the warehouse directly to Amazon delivery vehicles or third-party package carriers for delivery.
A worker drives a power lift inside the new Amazon fulfillment center that recently opened in Turlock, Calif Oct. 20, 2022. “People are very excited about the opening,” said senior site safety manager Myranda St. John, a Modesto rsident who previously worked in one of the company’s Stockton facilities and has seen her commute time cut in half. “Amazon has provided a lot of opportunities for myself and for the larger community. I’ve been able to go from an hourly employee to a salaried employee in less than five years.”
In March of this year, Amazon announced its partnership with Turlock’s California State University, Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College for the company’s Career Choice program. Hourly employees at the new Turlock facility are eligible for free tuition at both institutions. Full- and part-time employees are eligible, but only full-time employees will have all their tuition paid (part-time workers receive half). The entrance to the warehouse floor inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif. is seen Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.
The new facility, like all Amazon distribution centers, is named after a nearby airport. The Turlock site is named MCE1 for the Merced Regional Airport, which is about 30 miles to the south. “We are very blessed being here in Turlock and we have had amazing response to our hiring and have had no constraints there at all,” Ramirez said. “We will continuously be on-boarding a few hundred associates throughout the remainder of the year.” Amazon Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez inside the new large and bulky item fulfillment center that has opened in Turlock, Calif., on Oct. 20, 2022.
Job seekers interested in applying for full-time, part-time or seasonal work at the Turlock Amazon facility can find open positions and applications online at amazon.com/flexiblejobs. Job seekers can also sign up for text alerts for upcoming Amazon jobs in the region. To sign up, text “AMAZONJOBS” to ” 77088 ,” and then you will receive a series of texts asking you to opt-in for jobs in your ZIP code.