Mass Exodus of Simi Jobs

Approximately 1200 jobs are leaving Simi Valley and going to the recently vacated 21st Century Insurance building in Woodland Hills (vacated by 21st Century when parent company AIG terminated all operations at that facility). The following is a snippet from their press release.

The company announced that it will move approximately 1,200 people, or 20 percent of its Greater Los Angeles workforce, from building space it leases at 3041 Cochran Street in Simi Valley to another leased facility at 6303 Owensmouth in Woodland Hills. The Woodland Hills facility is already home to some Farmers employees and the building currently is branded 21st Century Insurance Company, but the name on the building will be changed to Farmers Insurance. (21st Century Insurance Company was acquired by Farmers Insurance in July 2009).

The move of the 1,200 employees will take place beginning in early 2011. Farmers Insurance has more than 6,000 employees and agents in the Greater Los Angeles area, making Farmers Insurance one of the largest employers in Southern California.

While this may be a good move for Farmers Insurance who will enjoy the benefits of a more modern building, this is terrible for Simi Valley. Not only are 1200 jobs vacating, but surrounding businesses will be impacted as well. This will impact restaurants in the immediate area, the shopping center across the street, not to mention local hotel occupancy.

What happened, and didn’t anyone see this coming? Farmers Insurance has occupied the large building on Cochran Street since 1982. With a move of this magnitude, was there no discussion between Farmers and the City of Simi Valley? This will surely impact our local economy in a number of ways and I hope this becomes a top issue in the upcoming election.

UPDATE: After more careful thought and consideration, I’ve posted a follow-up on this topic. Please click here to read it.

23 thoughts on “Mass Exodus of Simi Jobs

  1. Youve goota think higher up the food chain than City Hall.
    When our locals were trying to attract some of the players to move to Simi Valley, our dear Congressman Elton was busy trying to steer the very same companies to Thousand Oaks & Westlake Village… this instead of helping out his hometown.

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  2. Specifically players in motion picture and television production. Simi has long been active behind the scenes for entertainment production.

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  3. Here is yet another example why we need change at City Hall. Farmers was just taken for granted the last couple of years by the city as they openly transferred jobs and their training facilities to Westlake. The city needs to take a pro-business approach instead of driving businesses away. Since Farmers has been a big supporter of local businesses and charities, there will be lots of people throughout our community hurting soon.

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  4. Tim,

    As always, you remain the voice of reason. I’m glad you posted your thoughts here. I just posted a follow-up after chatting with a few people on the topic, including Candidate Keith Mashburn who sits on the Planning Commission.

    There’s probably not a whole lot the City could have done to prevent this. It’s upsetting to say the least, but probably a more logical move for Farmers.

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  5. “not a whole lot the City could have done to prevent…”, “not likely that anything the City Council did would change Farmers…”, “higher up the food chain than City Hall….”

    This is unacceptable. You cannot excuse when this information was generally known and nothing was done in the open to attempt to prevent it by our leaders. The writing was on the wall when they proposed and won a McDonald’s driveup on their own property. Nothing against Mickie Ds but who pisses in their own front yard. Expect a long vacancy unless McDonalds wants a 6 storie storage facility in the back. Please explain which Fortune 100 company is eager to share their driveway with McDonalds.

    Our leaders could do nothing to prevent the long term Mervyns vacancy, Now Farmers and soon to be Target on Cochran. Talk about low expectations in your leadership. Think of the wonderful PR coming when you see a giant “AVAILABLE” banner hanging over the top signage of Farmers as you drive through the center of town.

    Glad to see we’ve got some council members with their head in the Simi Valley wash looking for Stimulus Funds to make a remote park to serve a few. Millions of dollars in Simi Valley specific annual sales & use tax revenues, capital equipment property taxes, employee local consumerism just got wiped off the 2011 and forward revenue projections. Maybe he can propose another private consultant to do his job for him. Sorry, but again, this is completely unacceptable and a huge wake up call to everyone.

    Save our CIty! Question Authority!

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  6. Mike,

    Voice of reason? Why because Tim wants to make nice and say it will all be rosy. No one to blame? A bird in hand is worth two in the wash!

    Decisions, misinformation and misdirection in our leadership are affecting every citizen of Simi Valley. Every one of us better realize Farmers pull out is a serious gamechanger. You will be affected by this. The only one benefitting on this one will be the brochure printer who needs to revamp the chamber demographics without the Farmers employment stats.

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  7. SO, our great city “Leadership” has not attracted staple businesses. Mervyn’s has been un-occupied now with no plans. They courted “Super Target” which is going to result in the closure of the long established Target on Cochran. Simi Valley cannot support another Target when there is one mid-city, and one in Moorpark 3 miles away. They have not thought this through at all, and are failing all of us. Change needs to take place quickly, and this is another great example of Sedell at the helm with the Council asleep in the engine room. Imagine, they would rather do business in the City of Los Angeles, where taxes are higher. Are you kidding me?

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  8. Laura,

    They are not consolidating. They have a lease through 2017. They are leaving Simi Valley. Sure, the bean counters did analysis but they don’t get to pull the plug. How do you know the analysis demonstrates this move cuts costs? The Star and Mike mention a “Business Decision” and “Modernization” no mention of cost cutting.

    Alarm bells should have been going off in 2005 when they sold the highrise portion of the Simi property and again when they were backing a drive through on their own facility.

    Anyone who is complacent about this outcome ought to give their spouse a big kiss tonight. You are prone to take important things for granted.

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  9. Farmer’s Insurance is the third largest insurance group in the US servicing over 10 million households in 41 states.

    Revenue: $6.4 Billion

    Jerry Davies
    Director of Media Relations
    Farmers Group, Inc.
    4680 Wilshire Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90010
    Phone: (213) 400-4459
    Jerry.davies@farmersinsurance.com

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  10. Laura,

    My point does not exclude yours. When did I say pit, pleasure, philanthropy? Where did I say special favors? You can sure bet the Miller “Red Team” better have a huge bag of special favors ready to attract the next 3rd largest insurance group in the US to our town. You said consolidation. There is no mention of consolidation. You said save. There is no mention of save. We can agree on invest. In fact, Farmers was prevented from expanding their training facility in Simi by Simi!

    It is a sad state when Los Angeles is the better “Business Decision” to do business with. I’d understand a little better if Farmer’s moved this facility to Arizona, North Carolina, Texas but not Woodland Hills “over the hill.” Farmer is on the hook for 7 more years of rent and Los Angeles was better.

    I can recall several occasions where the city hotels were booked up solid due to Farmers trainees. I can recall meeting out of town Farmers trainees in the Simi businesses, entertainment, and recreation areas spending their money here in Simi because this was often their first trip to Southern California and Simi was remote enough to not wander out to Hollywood. A lot of travel dollars were spent in Simi by out of town Farmers guests. Simi businesses thrived on this benefit.

    Who is the Miller “Red Team” going to attract on a 7 year sublease? Get ready for this building to be vacant for a LONG TIME. You are right about other consolidations, cost cuts, closures, bankruptcies, forthcoming. Farmers was completely preventable. I guess it is not much of a surprise when you to the VCStar article and see Farmers was welcomed originally on a 3-2 council vote 28 years ago. No respect!

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  11. Laura,

    May Ferris’ moniker should be changed to “Fiesty Ferris” passion and feistiness are okay, when it gets personal then that is not cool. Fiesty Ferris looks more passionate than provocateur at this point. It will be interesting to see how everyone morphs as we get closer to election day.

    I think all you people who hide behind monikers are missing a huge opportunity to be contributors. It is pretty easy to make statements with no accountability.

    Barbra, Mitch, Keith, Mike & even Brian have no problem taking accountability for their statements. Even if I disagree, I respect them way more than the moniker mosh pit in these forums.

    Mike wonders why he is having trouble getting candidates to talk, well I think the environment has not proven itself capable of enough maturity to where the issues will get the proper treatment. I think the way Mike handles himself tonight will have a huge impact on his ability to secure the other candidates for future talks or even responses to his questions.

    It is not just a problem here but the Star and the Acorn have had major miscue’s as well. If I were any of the candidates, Sojka, Huber, Mashburn, Becerra, Foster, Green, Judge etc. I would have to approach all of this with extreme caution.

    example – Dennert’s v-log post with Sojka was not a shining moment for Councilman Sojka, if I was on that campaign committee I would be having a fit.

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  12. I very sorry to hear about this loss to our city I’ve heard the rumors that it was coming but I did not have a clear understanding as to why. The more I learn the angrier I get. This is yet another clear sign that we need significant change in our city government and in our cities attitude toward business in general.

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  13. If I’m a Farmers executive reading many of the previous comments, and Simi Valley had nothing at all to do with the company’s decision, then making that information very public (and coming directly from Farmers) would make certain candidates look pretty foolish, don’t you think?

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  14. People at Farmer’s spoke against the McDonald’s and the planning commission seemed intent on pushing it through, unlike other issues that have come before them. It was said that Farmer’s sold that property and was told at the Planning Commission meeting that they should have placed restrictions on what the property could be used for. I would have expected office space to remain office space.

    The PC ignored all the light and sound issues with the townhouses nearby as well. They focused on the sound from the speaker, not from the vehicles. The traffic was also ignored, plus it was said that there will be NO additional traffic because of it. It seems that some people think that people will only stop at a fast food place if it is on their way.

    Go review the planning commission meetings. I saw one on TV and missed the other due to a conflict. See what was said and see how it was done. I was amazed.

    I have to wonder if part of the decision was because the McDonalds was allowed.

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  15. Our city leaders should immediately ask Lisa Murphy to voluntarily halt any construction plans of her McDonalds until the city “Red Team” can assess the impact her franchise could have on the ability to fill a new tenant in the Farmers building. The Star article suggests 1200 jobs will directly be lost along with another 800 indirectly with this move. Delaying the McDonalds buildout would be the right thing to do for our community at this time. Lisa has every right to move forward but may be viewed as selfish if it prevents the most expedient occupancy of the 1200 job facility. This is a PR choice for Lisa and McDonalds.

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  16. Hey Al

    If I’m an AIG / Farmers stock holder and a Farmers Executive tells me that they are moving the business to an area where the Taxes and property costs are higher and Local government is much more in your business then they are here there will be some explaining to do at the next stock holders meeting.

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  17. Let’s look at some facts and some educated guesses:

    1) That building was too much space to probably deal with the amount of employees they have or plan to have. No way to lease out other floors, etc. – specialized building.

    2) Businesses don’t make these decisions on the fly. This was a long time in the works either way, but the merger probably created an opportunity. Not much anyone on the Council now could have done to save it.

    3) Give me a break on the newly proposed McDonald’s. First, use the point above to contradict that argument. Second, Zurich the company that owns Farmer’s didn’t say anything in opposition, it was local management that didn’t want it. The Corporate were indifferent — probably because they knew that it was closing and didn’t matter to them.

    4) Finally, the bigger problem with Simi Valley that almost everyone keeps missing on discussions at Council and Commission. We have way too much commercial zoning in this City. Only after we reduce the amount of commercial (retail and office) space to force people to go to central locations and generate crucial mass locations will all of the commercial upgrade and succeed.

    Anyone notice how shabby most of the commercial in Simi is? That’s because there isn’t competition to make it better, too much vacant space had cheaply. Even when we do nice/higher end commercial (mall/new office) it can’t succeed, because people have too many choices all over the place to go to. Not enough people to sustain the gigantic amount of acreage dedicated to commercial uses. Fix that and you’ll fix the commercial problem (Mervyn’s, Farmer’s, etc.).

    5) Or allow more density in the City? Is that a pig flying?

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  18. David Travers, the company’s Executive Vice President of Operations. “This is a significant move and it will position Farmers Insurance for even greater growth in future years.”

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  19. Ted, I am sorry, explain to me again, what you’re complaint is regarding the Farmers Building and how/what the city did that irritated them so much that they left? You seem to be all over the board with this so in as few a words as possible, tell us again, what the city did to make them leave.

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  20. All these speculative comments coming from people who don’t run businesses of a size large enough to comprehend what occurred here. Farmers had two buildings, an old one it leased (in Simi), and a really nice new one it owns that is bigger, is wired better for modern technology, and is more energy-efficient to save in utility costs. The decision to move was purely business, that much is easy to see. And no one lost a job.

    Farmers did not own the McDonald’s site. It sold it, and when the new owner turned around and sold it to someone who proposed the McDonald’s, Farmers was not happy. That was Farmers’ problem, not the City’s. Once you sell the property you lose control of it.

    Lots of political opportunism occurring here, but the bottom line is the company made a business move, and it appears like a good one for the business. Nothing the City could do, except move on and look to the future and work hard to get the building leased again. Not sure what any of these current political challengers could have done to get Farmers to stay, except maybe to have said, “Pretty please with sugar on it?”

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  21. Al,

    Small point of fact that they don’t own the Woodland Hills Building:

    “The company announced that it will move approximately 1,200 people, or 20 percent of its Greater Los Angeles workforce, from building space it leases at 3041 Cochran Street in Simi Valley to another leased facility at 6303 Owensmouth in Woodland Hills.”

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