• WHO: W.W. Grainger Inc., a global supplier of facility maintenance products, with 18 distribution centers and more than 600 branches.
• WHAT: An 800,000-square-foot distribution center in Patterson’s Keystone West Business Park, on the southeast corner of Rogers Road and Keystone Pacific Parkway.
• WHEN: Construction is expected to begin in September; the center is expected to open in mid-2011.
• JOBS: Grainger says the center will initially employ between 150 and 200 workers, though some of the 55 employees at its San Jose facility will have an opportunity to relocate to Patterson. Construction contracting will be handled by the project’s developer, McShane Co.
• INFO: www.grainger.com, www.mcshane.com, www.keystonecorporation.com.
W.W. Grainger Inc., a global supplier of facility maintenance products, announced last week it has purchased 45 acres in western Patterson and will break ground in September for a massive distribution center.
The 800,000-square-foot building in the Keystone West Business Park will sit on the southeast corner of Rogers Road and Keystone Pacific Parkway.
The center will employ between 150 and 200 workers when it opens in mid-2011, said Brian Williams, Grainger’s regional director of distribution operations. That will include warehouse jobs like order fulfillment, material handlers and forklift operators, as well as some management positions.
McShane Co., the project’s developer, will handle the contract work for the building’s construction.
Ed Pitula, regional director for McShane, estimated that a few hundred workers will be involved in the construction. Pitula said selection of subcontractors has begun, and about 80 percent of the work will be awarded to businesses in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
Grainger does most of its sales, which neared $7 billion last year, through its more than 600 branches — including 50 in California, the closest being in Ceres. Its distribution centers, of which there are 18, replenish the branches with products to sell to customers, ranging from health care centers to universities, and schools to wholesale distributors and retailers.
“We’re a maintenance-repair and operating business,” Williams said. “We help customers reduce their costs and operate more productively, and we do that through a broad-line offering of industrial supplies.”
Patterson was chosen over other sites primarily for its location, Williams said. The Patterson center will serve the Central Valley, the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. A distribution center in Mira Loma serves Southern California.
“We also had some requirements as to the amount of land available and the labor pool,” Williams said. “Patterson bubbled up to the top as the ideal location for a new facility.”
Williams said Grainger also has a distribution center in San Jose, but at only 100,000 square feet, that building would be better suited as a branch or some type of hybrid facility. It will be converted accordingly when the Patterson center opens.
The 55 employees at the San Jose facility will be given a chance to relocate to Patterson, Williams said. That could reduce the number of jobs available to local workers, though Williams said hiring locally will be a priority.
“Our intent is to offer jobs to people in San Jose who are capable of relocation,” Williams said. “That will be an aspect of the new culture we’re going to build (in Patterson). In addition to that, we hope to tap the local talent in the Patterson area.”
Grainger will join the CVS (formerly Longs) and Kohl’s distribution centers as the largest operations in the Keystone Pacific and Keystone West business parks in western Patterson. It matches CVS in size at 800,000 square feet, though CVS employs more than 500 people, according to City Manager Cleve Morris.
Kohl’s, at 675,000 square feet, has staff numbers close to those that Grainger is projecting, Morris said.
Williams left open the possibility that Grainger could increase the number of employees at the distribution center if need be.
“As Grainger and the facility grow to meet the rising demands of our customers, we will continue to monitor staffing levels to provide premier customer service,” Williams said.
Rumors had circulated about the project throughout the three to four months the city spent wooing Grainger. At the company’s request, its identity was kept under wraps. It was referred to in public only as “Project Orange.”
One edge Patterson had over other cities, Morris said, was the extent to which approvals had already been granted for the project. After developer McShane purchased 123 acres of land from Keystone in 2007, it got approval from the city to build three huge buildings there for distribution.
So when Grainger completed the purchase of the land last month, the turnaround time to begin construction was brief.
“The big thing is the place where they’re going is shovel-ready dirt,” Morris said. “Time is money for these companies. When they make a decision, they want to build tomorrow.
“And we do what we can. We tighten up our turnaround times for plan reviews, inspections and things like that to keep them on schedule.”
The first of the McShane buildings, a 530,000-square-foot structure on the northeast corner of Rogers Road and Keystone Pacific Parkway, is finished but unoccupied — save for about 80,000 square feet being leased by CVS for overflow. A third building, which McShane Senior Vice President John A. Dobrott said will be 590,000 square feet, will be built just south of the Grainger building.
Morris said the city hopes the addition of Grainger will draw the attention of other companies to Keystone, which also has smaller offices occupied by the Patterson Joint Unified School District, GEA Westfalia Separator and Frontier Communications, among others.
“Having these big-name companies come in will definitely encourage others to look at us and ask what they saw in us to bring them to small-town Patterson,” Morris said.
• Contact James Leonard at 892-6187 or email@example.com.