Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 24, 2010

Clorox to move 1,100 workers to Pleasanton

Planning Commission mum on tenant as it OKs major changes

by Jeb Bing

The Clorox Co., a landmark business with a long history in Oakland where it is headquartered, plans to move much of its workforce into the empty 26-acre campus of the former Washington Mutual Bank call center in Pleasanton next year.

Besides transferring as many as 700 employees and contract workers from its Oakland headquarters to Pleasanton, the company also plans to shutter its existing research facility, also on Johnson Drive, transferring its 400 management and research staff to the new corporate campus.

LBA Realty, which represents Clorox, won the approval last week of the Pleasanton Planning Commission to modify the 26-acre commercial center on Johnson Drive for Clorox to use for its expanded research and development operations. The proposal next goes to the City Council where it is likely to be approved Oct. 5.

Although commission members knew of Clorox's plans to occupy the former WaMu campus, none asked questions to LBA's representative Paul Thometz about the new tenant, which was unusual given the scope of the Planned Unit Development modification they were considering.

It was learned that Clorox executives had asked Pleasanton officials to keep the plans under wraps until Clorox employees and shareholders had been told. The company also is involved in efforts to keep the Oakland A's baseball team in Oakland with major contributions promised to the city-driven campaign. Publicity about its move to Pleasanton could dampen its credibility, it was said.

Apparently members of the City Council have also been briefed on the Clorox moves but also have kept the plan secret. Clorox, it was learned, had hoped to keep the move quiet until after the Oct. 5 council meeting.

The behind-the-scenes move to Pleasanton is similar to the move here from Oakland by Safeway Inc. Safeway moved much of its employee base but kept its headquarters and management team in Oakland for a period following the move, much as Clorox is planning.

Clorox will add a sixth building to the five-building campus, which earlier was also used as a call center by the former Providian credit card company. At one time, the street leading to the site from Hopyard Road was named Providian Way, with the city approving a name change to Washington Mutual Way when the bank purchased the property.

The site at 4900-5040 Johnson Drive is adjacent to Thoratec, another research and development company that manufactures medical devices.

The 65,000-square-foot sixth building planned by Clorox will increase the overall building area on this 26 acre site from 287,967 square feet to 352,441 square feet.

Clorox is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with fiscal year 2010 revenues of $5.53 billion. With approximately 8,300 employees worldwide, the company manufactures products in more than two dozen countries and markets them in more than 100 countries. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded cash grants totaling more than $80 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges. In fiscal 2010 alone, the foundation awarded $3.5 million in cash grants, and Clorox made product donations valued at $8.8 million.

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