Photo by Jason Ruiz. Renderings courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA.
The future home of the new West Coast Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) vehicle preparation center in Long Beach was unveiled at a groundbreaking ceremony near Long Beach Airport Wednesday morning.
Resting on a lot once occupied by the Douglas Aircraft Company and, most recently, a Boeing 717 aircraft manufacturing facility until it closed in 2006, the new facility covers over 1 million sq. ft. The new regional facility which will serve 82 dealerships spanning 12 states is and is expected to be ready for operation by the company’s first quarter in 2015.
“It goes from Alaska to Texas, from Montana to Hawaii; it’s quite a big territory that goes over four time zones,” said Dietmar Exler, Vice President of Sales for MBUSA. “In this territory we’re selling over 100,000 cars a year so it’s quite an important entity for us.”
The center is in charge of ensuring that vehicles are ready to be delivered and testing vehicles for quality. The 52.2 acre facility will also house the learning and performance center which is moving its offices from Rancho Cucamonga. The center provides training for dealership and MBUSA employees, virtual classrooms and eLearning to help improve their customer service.
In total, the facility will house nearly 6,000 cars as trucks shuttle new shipments from the Port of Long Beach to the facility and from the facility to dealerships.
Mayor Foster noted that the momentum of the development of the Douglas Park area—which most recently included the addition of an upcoming medical office—will only be strengthened by the addition of such a revered brand like Mercedes and that its synergy with the Port and influx of employees will positively affect the local economy.
“If you take a look at what’s happened in the last 18 months or so, we’ve had most of Douglas Park fill up,” Foster said. “One thousand engineers coming here announced by boeing, the unemployment rate that came out last week is the lowest in six years and now we have Mercedes Benz, an international marquee company coming to Long Beach. That’s how you build an economy.”
Vehicle Processing Center Manager Hector Villegas said that even though initially the location’s dual-hangar set up didn’t align with what the company sought in a new facility it did come with a benefit.
“Once we worked with our architects we realized it could benefit us,” Villegas said of the existing structures where the MBUSA will reside. “Having the cars under a roof, covered, the product preservation is that much better. On a quality stand point it actually helps us out but originally it wasn’t what we were looking for.”
The company operates similar facilities in Baltimore—90 acres—and Brunswick, Georgia—50+ acres—and Villegas said that even though the acreage is smaller than the plant in Maryland, the new Long Beach preparation center’s building space is the biggest domestic processing plant for the company.
Landing the deal with MBUSA is significant for the city having recently lost a Boeing bid to Washington State earlier this year. Even though his tenure as mayor concludes in just over a month, Foster said that its important to continue to bring this type of business to the city. According to the mayor, additions like the new MBUSA center not only stimulates the economy in the short term, it provides vital job opportunities to local graduates.
“I think around the world this is consistent with quality engineering,” Foster said. “Mercedes Benz helps. It’s like having Boeing here. They hired a lot of engineers from long beach state both as interns and as employees when they graduate and I think you’ll see some of that here as well.”