But company Southern Division Vice President Bob Holcombe assured those who braved the chill that it was a heat wave compared to FedEx Ground headquarters in Pittsburgh.
State and local officials welcomed Holcombe at the groundbreaking of a $19 million FedEx distribution center, which is scheduled to open July 2015 at Cecil Commerce Center.
The 300,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will be three to four times the size of the one it replaces on Lane Avenue.
"This is a great opportunity for Jacksonville and we are excited about the investment in our community," Mayor Alvin Brown said. "This is going to create about 180 jobs for Jacksonville. About 150 trucks will leave this facility every day. Think about that."
Holcombe said it's a big deal for FedEx Ground, too.
"We've outgrown our old facility," he said. "This will be part of a network now of 525 facilities across the country."
FedEx Ground has doubled in size during the past 10 years, Holcombe said, and new facilities will help position the company for more growth the next 10 years.
Cecil Commerce is a good location for FedEx Ground because of its proximity to the highway system, he said.
"Florida in general is a high-growth market for us," Holcombe said, "and Jacksonville's logistics help to fuel that growth."
Mike Breen, senior director of the International Department for JAXUSA Partnership, said a larger FedEx Ground will be a great business recruitment tool for Jacksonville and for Cecil Commerce Center, in particular. FedEx Ground will be just north of Saft America Inc.
"Mercedes already uses FedEx overnight exclusively to ship to their dealers, and FedEx … just pulled out of the Saft building a minute ago," Breen said. "We can point out, as part of our logistics infrastructure, that we have FedEx right here in the middle of these developing properties. It will be an attraction to potential companies, and a resource that allows them to operate at a higher level."
It was a bracing day — 43 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny — to start construction at FedEx Ground's distribution facility on the Westside.