Amazon opens Visalia fulfillment center

Amazon general manager says facility will hire 1,200 employees at 1.3 million-square foot fulfillment center in Visalia

VISALIA – Amazon’s Visalia fulfillment center is open and in full operation, according to the new general manager. The 1.3 million-square foot warehouse, the largest in the city, is on Riggin Avenue and Kelsey Street in the Visalia Industrial Park and it will be bringing more jobs than previously announced.

“We have already hired nearly 1,000 on our way to 1,200 associates,” general manager Carlos Avelar said, adding they are “bringing on more employees than we originally anticipated.”

Avelar says he moved his family to Visalia in July from Tracy where he had been manager for 2.5 years. He said 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.

“The Central Valley has a special place in my heart,” Avelar said. “We want to be part of the community.”

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, Avelar said. 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,” Avelar said.

The next three months will be the busiest of the year for the e-retailer, Avelar said, and at times Amazon may increase its seasonal workforce by 1,200.

Avelar said starting pay at the Visalia center is at least $15.50 per hour with 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 Amazon encourages associates to go to college and will pay to make it happen while they work here.

Interested candidates must be 18 years or older and must have a high school education, GED, or equivalent diploma. Interested candidates may apply online at amazon.force.com.

Second warehouse?

Avelar said he “has heard the rumors” that there will be a second Amazon warehouse in the industrial park that will be built- but for now “it’s just that, a rumor.”

The same property owner, CapRock who landed Amazon more than 18 months ago to launch the building process, is doing construction drawings on another 1.1 million-square foot warehouse at Kelsey and Avenue 320, just north of the current center. The filing actually calls for twin side-by-side warehouses on 150 acres in a second phase, totaling 2.2 million square feet.

It was Newport Beach-based CapRock who, in 2017, sold 58 acres to UPS for a new distribution center that now sits just west of the Visalia Amazon center. The project is now considered the start of a logistics boom in Visalia. Today, a dozen more industrial warehouses are built, under construction or on the drawing board. Visalia’s success in attracting new logistics business has worried nearby Fresno, according to press reports, as they watch the most recent announcement that Ace Hardware will build a massive facility here bringing 400 jobs.

Amazon typically does not announce projects. Back in January this reporter wrote “Visalia’s largest building permit in 2020 was for $105 million issued to Gray Construction to build a logistics center at Riggin and Kelsey in the Visalia Industrial Park. The permit is for the new 1.3 million square ft Amazon warehouse that is expected to open late next summer. Despite all the dirt flying, Amazon has not announced the project.”

This week Paul Bernal, Visalia’s new community development director, confirmed plans for the new logistic center are being reviewed by the city noting “we just sent them back for correction,” a common practice. Fueling the notion this is a second Amazon is the fact the same contractor, Gray Construction, is listed on the plans.

Prior to beginning operations in Visalia, the company announced it had invested over $81 billion in California (between 2010 and 2020) including infrastructure and compensation to employees. Other direct and statewide impacts include more than 153,000 full-time and part-time jobs created in California. According to the company, it has added over $80 billion to the state’s gross domestic profit based on its investments.

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