Visalia Mayor Bob Link, in the white shirt, shakes hands with Hilti, Inc. employees following a ribbon cutting at the company’s new, larger distribution center at the Visalia Industrial Park. Photo contributedåç
Written by David Castellon
If you aren’t in the business of constructing homes, commercial buildings or other structures, chances are you never heard of Hilti.
But in Visalia, the Luxemburg-based maker of professional-grade power tools and other construction products has made a name for itself over the past 24 years as a business and employer in the Visalia Industrial Park.
Now, the company is expanding its presence, having leased a newly-built, 166,000-square-foot building to house its West Coast distribution and Value-Added Service centers.
On Wednesday, the new facility at 4630 N. American St. was opened to local business people and dignitaries for a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by executives from Hilti, Inc. — the company’s Oklahoma-base U.S. division — and Visalia Mayor Bob Link.
The Visalia distribution center is the largest of 12 Hilti distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada, covering the West Coast and Pacific Rim.
Among the tasks performed at the Value-Added Service Center are assembling prefabricated parts installed with new walls to prevent the spread of fires and equipment to mount lights and heavy equipment to ceilings.
The European company has eight factories around the world, making tools mostly for commercial-builders, but some Hilti products can be found at Home Depot hardware stores and at about 100 Hilti stores in the U.S.
Hilti vacated two smaller buildings in other parts of the Visalia Industrial Park — which combined offered about 65,000 square feet of space — to move into the new building. Staff, work spaces, inventory and supplies occupy only about two thirds of it, said Patrick O’Connell, vice president of logistics for Hiliti, Inc.
He said sales for the company are on the rise, particularly in the U.S., so moving to a larger building is intended to prepare for growth.
Currently Hilti employs 30 people in Visalia, both at the new building and at a separate tool repair center also in the Industrial Park. While there are no immediate plans to expand that staff, there now more than 50,000 square feet available to make room for added hires and equipment in the future if the growth continues, as expected, O’Connell said.