Hardware distribution company to hire 400

Ace Hardware files permits to build 1 million-square foot distribution facility in Visalia Industrial Park

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.

Growth capacity

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.

24/7 operation

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.

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