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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, November 22, 2010, 4:30 am

State Farm to close operations in Rohnert Park; 450 jobs impacted

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    ROHNERT PARK — State Farm Insurance Wednesday announced it will consolidate its 450-employee Rohnert Park operation and an 80-employee office in Fresno into its Bakersfield Operations Center as part of a statewide move that includes closing nine satellite offices.

    The Rohnert Park office is set to close July 31, 2011. The consolidation is said to affect less than 15 percent of the company’s work force in the state.

    “The objective was to identify areas where we could improve efficiency and reduce facility-related expenses while at the same time enhance service to our customers,” said Rand Harbert, senior vice president of California, in a statement. “As a part of our commitment to our policyholders, we have an obligation to manage our costs effectively.”

    As many employees as possible will be relocated to Bakersfield, where positions are needed, according to Lonny Haskins, a spokesman in Rohnert Park. Those that choose not to will leave the company. State Farm will be helping Fresno and Rohnert Park employees relocate and is planning a site visit of the Bakersfield facility for local employees next month.

    “One of the main reasons for this is that we weren’t making good utilization of the facilities we were occupying,” he said. “Most people will have an option to relocate to Bakersfield.”

    The 300,000-square-foot Rohnert Park office was only 35 percent occupied, and the Bakersfield facility is only about 45 percent full, according to Mr. Haskins.

    Most of the employees in leased satellite offices in Chico, Lancaster, Modesto, Palm Desert, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, San Ramon and Watsonville will continue to work for the company, but from their homes.

    Allied Insurance, now part of Nationwide Mutual, and Farmers Insurance are among insurers that have had large claims offices in Sonoma County in the past several years but closed them and shifted some staff to a telecommuting work environment.

    Codding Enterprises founder Hugh Codding attracted State Farm to Santa Rosa in 1963 then expanded local operations in a move to the current Rohnert Park site in 1977.

    In 2004 the company reorganized and moved a number of Rohnert Park claims positions to Vallejo.

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