Sunday, November 07, 2004

State Farm building opens for business

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

State Farm Insurance officially opens its Vallejo Operations Center on Monday, following the first phase of a two-phase move, a company spokeswoman said.

Marie Parks of Benicia, a State Farm claims manager for 23 years, said the first phase of the move takes place Friday and the second phase will begin next Friday and be completed Monday, Nov. 15.

"People are moving in from three locations," Parks said. "We're doing the move in two phases to ensure uninterrupted customer service."

Located on the waterfront at 400 Mare Island Way near Capitol Street, the new center will initially employ about 200 people, a number that's expected to rise in the future, according to an official statement.

Several State Farm employees like Parks, who have been commuting from Vallejo, Benicia and other nearby towns, have been transferred to the new facility, and other locals have been hired to replace those who chose not to move or commute, Parks said. Several have moved to Vallejo and nearby cities, Parks said, adding that "between transferees and new hires, at least 50 employees have been hired, and even more support staff has been hired."

"The hiring process began about a year ago," Parks said. "In California, State Farm consolidated quite a few of our offices to become more efficient. The primary object is to keep insurance premiums down for our customers. Vallejo's office is the last element in a reorganization plan."

Last month, State Farm held a Safety Fair at the new center, which included a car seat clinic with visits by California Highway Patrol and Vallejo Fire Department members.

As the largest insurer of cars and homes in the United States, State Farm has 25 operations centers in 13 zones with staffs that underwrite insurance policies, process claims and oversee the company's business in their areas. The company has more than 79,000 employees and 16,000 agents and their employees throughout the United States and parts of Canada, according to an official statement.

Work on the Capitol Street extension next to the State Farm building is also nearly completed. The remaining work, including landscaping, installation of street lights and a traffic signal is expected to be completed by January. The newly resurfaced ferry parking lot adjacent to State Farm has been striped and is open for public use.

"We're very much looking forward to being in Vallejo," Parks said. "In the 23 years I've been with the company, I've commuted all over, for the past 18 years, from Benicia. For the past seven years, I commuted to Rohnert Park. The community, the city and the Chamber of Commerce have been very welcoming and we're looking forward to being part of the business community in Vallejo."

-- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

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