DINUBA – In an economy increasingly driven by gig-workers and high employment turnover, eight Dinuba-area locals have remained a fixture at the Patterson Logistics Services Western Fulfillment Center for 27 years.
All hired between December 1995 and February 1996, these employees have watched each other, their families and their workplace grow over the years. As the Dinuba community around them expands, they stay with Patterson because they are treated well and are like a family.
“I like being here, I like what I do, I like the people that I see and work with,” Merla Magarin-Pascua, who works in the receiving department, said. “It drives me to come to work because I love what I’m doing.”
Magarin-Pascua and many of her coworkers, including Natalia Urzua, the internal inventory supervisor, had no intentions of sticking around for this long. After 27 years, however, it’s hard for them to imagine doing anything else.
“I was 19, 20 years old, and this was just a job for me,” Urzua said. “I had no clue this was going to be a career. The plan wasn’t long term, but it’s hard not to be long term with Patterson.”
The fulfillment center belongs to Patterson Companies, a distributor that operates Patterson Dental, Patterson Veterinary and Animal Health International to supply dental and animal care practices with products, equipment and technology. At the time the center opened in 1996, it was the last building along Sierra Way and Monte Vista Drive in Dinuba, department manager Christine Trinidad said.
“There’s been a lot of changes (in Dinuba),” Trinidad said. “Back then it was just Patterson and Ruiz Foods (and) … I think we had Odwalla across town. Those were the three main companies.”
Trinidad said they slowly watched the Best Buy Distribution Center come into town, then the Wal-Mart, and now they have “cars zooming by every side of our building.”
The environment at Patterson is really what has kept them around for all these years, the employees said. Not only are they friendly and supportive toward each other, they are treated well by the company and given the chance to put their families first.
“Right now, my dad has a medical issue and when I need to take him to the doctor or I have an emergency, it’s easy,” Magarin-Pascua said. “As long as you tell (the managers) what you need, they’re pretty flexible and helpful and very understanding.”
Trinidad added that the support they all receive from Patterson, including paid time off benefits, has helped them do a better job when they’re at work.
“They give us the opportunity to prioritize our family when we know we need to come to work to be able to provide for our home,” Trinidad said. “(We can) make sure our priorities at home are straight and we can come to work and concentrate on our job. That’s been one of the reasons that I’ve stayed for so long.”
Even as things have changed, they have all also made sure to keep up a family-like atmosphere, they said. According to a press release from Patterson Companies, the fulfillment center had 55 employees when it first opened, a number that has grown to 166, and Trinidad said the building itself has also grown, from 47,000 square feet to 212,000 square feet.
That kind of expansion makes it more difficult to do things as a group and get to know each person, but departments still put on potlucks once a month, new hires are introduced to each supervisor and they even have a social committee that plans employee events.
Urzua said the one thing that has always remained constant is that they have baby showers for each other and they make sure to support their pregnant employees and those who are first-time dads.
“I was probably the first one to have a baby shower here, and I think this week, we just had a baby shower,” she said.
Throughout changes in technology, the company, their processes and the Central Valley, Trinidad said what they can all appreciate most is the bond they share and the opportunities they have had to grow together.
“A lot has changed, but all of us can go back to the blood, sweat and tears that we had to experience that got us to where all of us are now,” Trinidad said.