Emotionless Thoughts on Farmers Exit

Now that I’ve had a few moments to think about the news of Farmers Insurance leaving, I have some more rational thoughts to share and I’m hoping to get your feedback.

For years, we’ve been at risk for losing Farmers Insurance. When the Training Center moved out of Simi Valley, it only fragmented the Corporate presence even more. Consolidating by moving employees from Simi Valley into the Woodland Hills building with the other employees made sense from a logistical standpoint. It was bound to happen. 21st Century occupied most of the space in that building, and by vacating they presented Farmers with a simply logistical solution. I get that.

I do know that the Farmers Training Center moved out of Simi due to challenges with the City when they attempted to enlarge their facility. Though I don’t have first hand knowledge or quotes I can provide, this is what I’ve heard. I know the previous owners of a children’s gymnastics center in Simi Valley ran into roadblocks when they tried to expand and the problems they encountered likely weighed in on their decision to sell and move out of state. I also know that businesses face difficulty getting construction plans approved and face significant infrastructure costs that either delay the process, cost unforeseen thousands of dollars or both.

I don’t think the City could have prevented this move and I’m certain that it has been in motion for close to a year or more. But I think our City Officials have to focus on how to attract businesses like Farmers Insurance BACK into Simi Valley, and they definitely need to overhaul how they work with businesses. Perhaps our City Council Members can help facilitate that. Regardless, I think voters will be expecting them to.

Hopefully this comes off as a little more sound and reasonable than my previous post on the topic!

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.

Jobs Leaving Simi Valley

I haven’t been actively posting lately due to some job related stress.  The economic crunch has struck and the place where I work felt the squeeze with a round of layoffs.  The result has been stress and a whole lot more work to do.  Simi Valley workers will be affected as well.  This is from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal:

Farmers Insurance is transferring customer service jobs from its Simi Valley office to new facilities in three states.

The company has set an April 10 deadline for when up to 82 employees must decide to relocate to Austin, Olathe, KS, or Hillsboro, Ore. In total, 120 employees were notified back in October the jobs were moving and some have already gone to the new facilities

Those employees choosing not to leave California will receive a severance package, a company spokesman said.

On one hand, I want to be critical of Farmers for uprooting lives to save money, but I can’t.  Everyone is just starting to feel it and there’s likely more to come.  I worry about large employers in town relocating… the impact it will have on our local economy and real estate.

Farmers is one of the largest employers in Simi Valley, with more than 1,100 workers remaining in the office there. Farmers also has its primary claims facility in Westlake Village and a training office in Agoura Hills.

I still have a handful of projects in the works that I’m hoping will do a small part to connect employers with job seekers.