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70 employees begin working at Blue Shield's new location in Lodi

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Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 10:00 pm

A group of 70 Blue Shield customer service representatives have moved in to the company's new 148,900-square-foot building in the Reynolds Ranch development located in south Lodi.

Blue Shield executives, Lodi City Council members and developers turned out Monday morning for a brief tour of the new building that is still being constructed.

Vice presidents of Blue Shied, Kathi Lucke and Bob Novelli expressed their pleasure with the building and the cooperation they've had with the city of Lodi.

"How many times are you going to have a $50 million project come in on time and on budget," said Novelli, who is the executive vice president of Blue Shield's customer services and corporate marketing. Novelli said that when they started the project, the company was made a promise by City Manager Blair King that if Blue Shield picked Lodi as the location for its new campus, Lodi would work to help get the task completed.

"They've kept that promise," Novelli said.

The city of Lodi had competed in an intense lobbying duel with the city of Stockton to convince Blue Shield to build its new building in Lodi rather than at a site near the Stockton airport.

Construction is slated to be complete and all employees moved in by Thanksgiving. The maximum number of employees that the new building can occupy is 1,050, and Novelli said they've designed the campus with expansion in mind.

The new Blue Shield of California building is nearly completed and has already opened. It currently houses 70 of the 1,050 employees that will fill the building. (Brian Feulner/News-Sentinel)

The Blue Shield building, located at 3021 Reynolds Ranch Parkway, was designed with minimal environmental impact and energy efficiency in mind.

Inside, a seascape of empty cubicles await their coming inhabitants, while new chairs are still wrapped in plastic. The smell of fresh carpet permeates every nook of the modern design. Large windows surround the the offices, allowing for maximum use of natural light, cutting down on computer monitor glare for better eye health. And extra-tall doorways and ceilings make the two-story edifice look much taller than that.

The roof uses a "cool" design that reflects heat, and a water-cooled ventilation system that will keep air conditioning costs under control on those scorching Valley days.

Most of the design revolves around employees, their needs and health. A full-service cafeteria is part of the campus, as well as an employee gym and, according to Novelli, the entire business and grounds are non-smoking. He also mentioned a walking trail that encompasses the grounds.

Many of the materials used in the construction of Blue Shield's new home are comprised of recycled or renewable resources. Floors in the lobby are made from bamboo, while carpeting is made of 41 to 60 percent recycled materials.

The surrounding grounds will be planted with shade trees to cut down on reflected asphalt heat, bio swales - marshy trenches - will naturally remove contaminants from storm drainage and there will be Temperanillo and Petite Syrah grape vines introduced to retain the feel of Lodi's vineyards.

Blue Shield's building is so environmentally friendly that it is being held up by the United States Green Building Council as an example of smart construction.

Blue Shield at a glance

Where: 3021 Reynolds Ranch Parkway, off Harney Lane and Highway 99.
Square feet: 148,900.
Cost: $50 million.
Maximum employees: 1,050.
Features: Full-service cafeteria, fitness center, activity room, bike racks, walking trail.
Source: Blue Shield of California

"The USGBC is using this project as an example of what the (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program should be," said King, who was in attendance of the debut. Lucke pointed out that the building has earned enough points to be LEED certified.

One of the most notable additions, lauded by all those in attendance, is the amount of jobs created - and existing jobs saved.

While Johnson said those against the project were "wrong, very wrong," others such as Vice Mayor Larry Hansen, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) and Supervisor Ken Vogel all pointed out the benefit of the Lodi jobs. Hansen also stated that it created a wealth of construction jobs in an industry that has been severely slowed in recent months.

Dale Gillespie, president of Reynolds Ranch Partners, Inc., echoed the others' sentiments.

"A council member questioned whether we needed the jobs or not," Gillespie said. "Blue Shield is important to Reynolds Ranch, but it's absolutely vital to this community."

Contact Business Editor Marc Lutz at marcl@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 12:38 am on Fri, Oct 31, 2008.


    It is good they brought more jobs to lodi and are aggressively seeking universal medical insurance but they dont tell you they are sending (farming) out alot of their work to companies outside of the UNITED STATES TO SAVE A BUCK - CHEAP LABOR-AND NOT PAY MORE AMERICANS A SOLID WAGE ?????????? KIND OF A CONFLICT DONT YOU THINKSO I GUESS THIS ALL AMERICAN COMPANY ISNT SO ALL AMERICAN- THEY ARE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, KINDA SOUNDS LIKE WAL-MART TACTICS

  • posted at 12:28 pm on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    Just curious... when is the PROMISED wall going up to protect us from Reynolds Ranch???

  • posted at 11:14 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    Thank you Lodi News for correcting your error misstating Blue Shields project manager's name. Caveman: Citizens of Lodi eagerly want more business like Blue Shield to nest here. It is good for our local economy to attract business. It will simply not happen as long as a couple of city council members treat potential business so cold and rude. I witnessed on TV Hitchcock say to Blue Shield, "Do we really need these jobs?" "Can't you spread out your campus in town among other buildings?" Can you believe it? I almost fell out of my seat! She thinks she knows better than Blue Shield about their business plan. Every other city would cut off their right arm to attract that type of business and they almost did not nest here. There are many more unworthy, arrogant, time wasting sound bites I could quote of her's, but space does not allow. Mounce agrees with 99.9% of what Hitchcock says. Time to get rid of the dead wood, they are not earning their salary and from what I have read, we have a huge deficate already and we can't afford to support dead wood any longer. Vote people!

  • posted at 9:57 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    Mervyns was/is not a viable option. The ownership of that property woes not want to sell. People dont realize that Blue shield wanted a 20 acre parcel, where inside the city limits did that exsist? Nowhere! Harney lane is a mystical line for die hard NIMBY's. It has been slated for developement for the last 20 years.

  • posted at 9:46 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    While I realize you can`t un-ring a bell, had the Blue Shield folks knowen Mervyns was going to bite the dust, it would have made a perfect place to work with very little in the line of retavation. Now poor `ol Mervyns will be just another empty building. Before anymore retail, that isn`t really needed, perhaps someone with an ounce of brains can come up with a new tenent for Mervyns and bring in some much needed tax revinue.

  • posted at 5:40 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    2468, I would love to see more of these types of jobs in Lodi. The problem is that the City has bought the idea that retail is the only answer for increasing revenue. Maybe if they thought like you, every new job two are created for local merchants, we wouldn't be in the financial mess we are in and could offer incentives to companies offering quality jobs.

  • posted at 4:19 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    I appreciate the 500 jobs retained and 1,000 future jobs held here in Lodi, especially in these economic times. For each job, two are created for local merchants, etc. If there were two other facilities that served their business formulas, don't you think that they would have moved to them? Also, how can we trust Lodi News to correctly report facts if they can't even get straight the basics: Gillespie is NOT, I repeat, N-O-T of "DPR Const., the main contractor of the project" as reported by this paper! Fact checking, please.

  • posted at 3:49 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    Ditto 16925. Also, Dale, I think the comment the council member made was that given the circumstances (jumping Harney Ln.) that they questions whether the jobs were needed or not.

  • posted at 1:14 am on Tue, Oct 28, 2008.


    mr johnson, i don't believe anyone was against blue shield, but rather the location. blue shield had two other lodi locations available other than jumping harney lane. blow on...



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