Clovis News

Pelco forgoes option on Clovis land

Pelco By Schneider Electric has shelved its plans to expand its Clovis plant, where security equipment is manufactured for sales worldwide.

In an agreement reached with the city of Clovis, Schneider Electric will no longer pay for options on three pieces of city-owned land and will work with the city to sell the land.

Pelco had been paying installments on 28 acres in the city's industrial park near Villa Avenue and Pontiac Way for about 12 years. The company was purchased by Schneider Electric in 2007.

Those payments allowed the company to maintain options on the land in case the company wanted to expand. Pelco had continued to expand since arriving 24 years ago in Clovis. The company occupies most of the Clovis Industrial Park, near Peach and Dakota avenues.

Under the agreement between the Clovis City Council and Schneider Electric, about $902,000 will be refunded to the company when two of the three properties are sold to other buyers. The two properties, totaling 24 acres, are valued at $1.55 million.

The city wants to use a third piece of property, about 4.4 acres, as a training facility for the Clovis Fire Department. Schneider Electric and Pelco also paid $95,833 in options on that property, which is valued at $383,322.

The land will be returned to the city, and in exchange the city will pay half the cost for a real estate broker on the other two properties, or up to 3% of the purchase price.

"This is land we have held for years but never had a specific agenda for," said Kathleen Rhodes, a Clovis-based spokeswoman for Pelco By Schneider Electric.

Founded in 1957, Pelco moved from Gardena to Fresno in 1982, then to Clovis five years later. In 1987, Pelco had 100 employees.

The company peaked at 2,200 employees in Clovis about five years ago. Today, the company has 1,800 employees in Clovis and is Fresno County's largest manufacturer.

In 2008, Pelco, which was owned by Schneider by then, paid to extend the options and give the company time to consider future expansion plans.

Since that time, however, Schneider has cut hundreds of jobs as the economy soured and the North American market slowed.

Giving up its land options is a sign that the company no longer has growth plans in Clovis.

The options had tied up all the remaining land in the southwest Clovis industrial park, leaving the city with little available land in that industrial park.

The city can now market the land as a way to attract employers to the city, said Tina Sumner, the city's economic and community development director.

When it was locally owned, Pelco was the Nordstrom of the security industry, said Mike Dozier, chief operating officer with the Regional Jobs Initiative and former Clovis economic and community development director. Like the department store, the security company was known for providing service to customers, Dozier said.

"I think Pelco showed that you could build economically in the United States if you have service as your primary concern," he said.

Dozier said he is not clear about Schneider Electric's plans for its Clovis operation.

"I am disappointed that they don't see the need for future expansion on that property," he said. "This says that they are as big as they are going to get here."