Category: Food Processing

An organic eatery went in where? New restaurant brings healthful food to ag heartland

November 07, 2018 05:37 PM

Updated November 07, 2018 06:36 PM

HERE ARE THE VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES

Published On November 9, 2018 – 7:00 AM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz
The past three years have been good to the staff at Lee’s Heating & Air in Fresno. In fact, at a 128 percent rate of growth between 2015 and 2017, the firm has become one of the fastest growing companies in the Central Valley.

For more information on the fastest growing companies in the San Joaquin Valley, please see The Business Journal’s annual list on page 10.

According to Tom Howard, the owner of Lee’s, this uptick in business can be largely attributed to customer service and reputation, along with upgraded software to connect with customers. Another big factor, however, has been the improvement of the economy, both nationally and locally.

“It allows homeowners to make upgrades that they haven’t been able to make before,” Howard said. “I think that the economy is doing a lot better in the Central Valley than it was in 2009 and 2010 — that definitely helped fuel the growth.”

Howard isn’t alone in his observation. According to Fresno State economist Ernie Goss, the Central Valley — which has previously lagged behind the rest of the state — has been making rapid progress in recent years.

“Now the catch up is really [sped] up, meaning the rate of growth has been positive for quite some time,” Goss said. “But the rate has definitely increased and relative to the U.S., it’s certainly stronger.”

In Goss’s research, he found that overall job growth in the Central Valley over the past 12 months has been 2.6 percent compared to the national average of 1.7 percent. Howard said that his own company has expanded its employment roster from approximately 26 in 2015 to about 50. Meanwhile, expanded business has given Lee’s the ability to pay tuition for his employees who are in college, along with their books.

Goss added that construction and manufacturing are two other sectors to watch. Construction is surpassing the national average with 8.3 percent job growth in the region, while in manufacturing, its 5.1 percent. Delano Construction, LLC of Fresno, which currently has a roster of 26 employees, saw a revenue growth of 208 percent.

The last three years have also proven successful for the solar companies in the region. Topping this industry has been Energy Concepts Enterprises, Inc., which went from revenues of $4.2 million in 2015 to $9.8 million in 2017, a rate of 132 percent. SunPower by Quality Home Services also saw growth of 90 percent in the same time frame, while in Visalia, CalCom Energy was up by 47.46 percent. According to Ryan Gutierrez of Energy Concepts, this has largely been the result of higher utility bills.

“Rates are continually going up,” Gutierrez said. “Solar offers a way for a customer to avoid rate increases by covering their own quest for energy.”

Goss said that tariffs on imported solar panels would further help domestic manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a law passed earlier this year mandating solar panels on new homes could also be good business when it goes into effect in 2020.

For some companies, however, growth isn’t necessarily facilitated by a growing economy. For example, BCT Consulting, Inc. of Fresno, provider of technology solutions, tends to be busier when there’s a dip in the market. This is because their company deals in the outsourcing of technology and helping clients find solutions that are more cost effective.

Nonetheless, BCT has grown by 27 percent. Eric Rawn, president and founder, credited this to acquisitions and mergers, along with community outreach and customer service.

“We don’t want to grow just to grow,” Rawn said. “We want to grow because it makes sense for everyone involved.”

In the months and years to come, Goss added that he has optimism for the future of the San Joaquin Valley. Though he stated concerns about immigration and the agricultural exports being impacted by the current trade war with China, he said the region has become increasingly appealing to the rest of the state.

“So there is the ability of some of those companies coming to Fresno and enjoying many of the benefits of California, but not many of the costs that we’re seeing in San Francisco, for example,” Goss said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/here-are-the-valleys-fastest-growing-companies/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=612a341302-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_20_09_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-612a341302-78934409&mc_cid=612a341302&mc_eid=a126ded657

An organic eatery went in where? New restaurant brings healthful food to ag heartland

Updated November 07, 2018 06:36 PM

MANUFACTURER AWARDED TAX CREDIT FOR BIOLA EXPANSION

Published On November 5, 2018
Written By Gabriel Dillard

NutriaAg has been awarded a $180,000 state tax credit to help expand its manufacturing facility in Biola, just west of Fresno.

Headquartered in Toronto, NutriAg makes and distributes environmentally friendly fertilizers and plant nutrients. It opened its Biola plant in 2015.

The tax credit is part of the California Competes program, which is administered through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz. The credit is aimed at businesses that want to locate or grow in the state.

As part of the tax credit agreement, NutriAg plans to invest $1.62 million in its expansion plans over the next three years, as well as hire at least seven new employees in that span.

All together, GO-Biz on Monday approved $70 million in tax credits for 17 companies that would create more than 2,000 jobs.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $39.5 million tax credit — the largest single tax credit in the program’s five-year history. The company has committed to adding 450 new jobs in addition to retaining over 2,400 existing employees in its “Skunk Works” operations near Palmdale.

The next application period begins on Jan. 2, 2019 with $75 million in tax credits available.

For more information, visit this blog from the Fresno County Economic Development Corp.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/manufacturer-awarded-tax-credit-for-biola-expansion/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=e403c6474a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_05_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-e403c6474a-78934409&mc_cid=e403c6474a&mc_eid=a126ded657

Gallo will expand into vacant Seneca fruit cannery in Modesto

Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes.
Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes. Joan Barnett Lee jlee@modbee.com

South Valley Industrial Summit

Join us Wednesday, November 14th for the
optional pre-summit workshops offered free of
charge to industry partners. Come and learn about
new technologies and processes.
Thursday, November 15th is designed to be a
full-day event that will feature vendor booths,
keynote speakers, and various breakout sessions
offered by industry experts and practitioners.
Keynote Speakers
 President & CEO, California Dairies
 Faraday Future
 Surf Ranch, Kelly Slater Wave Company
NEW! Optional Pre-Summit Workshops
Nov. 14
 Lean Principles
 ABB Inc in Robotics
 Variable Frequency Drive Basics & Control Methods
 Intro to Machine Vision
 Safety Solutions: Introduction to Automation Safety

Burger boom hits Visalia, Tulare

In America, the hamburger is king.

In Tulare County, that has never been more true.

New burger joints have been popping up across Visalia and Tulare — and these aren’t just your run-of-the-mill burgers either.

Restaurants have been turning the burger on its side and residents are up for the change.

Here are some new places to grab a quick burger around town.

Burgerim

New spot Burgerim, located in the Kohl’s shopping center, has 11 different patty options and dozens of ways to customize your burger.

The menu includes several types of beef, turkey, salmon, chicken and lamb patties. For those who don’t eat meat, the restaurant also offers veggie and falafel burgers.

Rose Oganesyan, who owns the Visalia location, said she fell in love with the restaurant when she first tried it in Los Angeles.

Her favorite? The garlic aioli fries.

The made-to-order, 3-ounce burgers are bigger than a slider but smaller than what American tastebuds are used to.

Perfect for those concerned with portion control, Oganesyan said.

The store also offers family and party boxes for larger families or events and beer and wine.

Don’t want to wait in line? Soon, the Visalia restaurant will also offer Uber Eats delivery services.

Other than burgers, customer favorites include the milkshakes and chicken wings, Oganesyan said.

“Customers say they like the atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone says they like it because it’s something different in Visalia.”

The store is one of only 40 open in the United States. The chain restaurant was started in Israel about seven years ago and made its way to America in 2015, Oganesyan said.

More than 270 locations are in the works across the country, including just a few miles down the road in Tulare.

Oganesyan is currently working to open a Burgerim next to Bravo Farms at the Tulare Outlets.

For those who are overwhelmed with the menu, Oganesyan said to just ask for help.

“The first time may be a challenge, but we will try to help you and offer suggestions,” she added. “We’re new to town, just give us a chance.”

Wimpy’s to land in Visalia

Wimpy’s Hamburger, one of Tulare’s most beloved eateries, has set its eyes on downtown Visalia.

The burger joint will take over the former Gumbo Express on Court Street.

The restaurant’s owners plan to refurbish the location and expect to serve Visalians their tasty fries and burgers by next year, co-owner Willy Espinoza said.

Opening the location in Visalia will bring an additional choice for those who frequent the vibrant downtown scene and will fill the void Checkers left when it closed, Espinoza said.

“We have always liked downtown Visalia,” he said. “It’s a place where there are a lot of people walking around. There’s nothing like this in the area.”

With the downtown Visalia location, Wimpy’s Hamburger will have three locations. A location in Dinuba opened in December.

More meat in downtown

Well-known developer JR Shannon is leasing a former antique store at 531 E. Main to a local burger maker. Kingsburg’s Stacked Bar and Grill will be offering their “humungous” burgers here this summer after the 5,500 square-foot building is remodeled.

The restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner and late night snacks.

More: Rumor has it Visalia is booming with new restaurants

Todd Asajian and Noah Murguia, the owners of Stacked just celebrated their 1 year anniversary at their downtown Kingsburg location. Asajian also owns and operates multiple Deli Delicious stores in Visalia and Kingsburg.

Like its neighbor, BarrelHouse Brewing, Stacked will feature a backyard patio.

“This is the third new venture I am doing along East Main since the new brewery district was formed” said Shannon.

Burger of options in Tulare

Tulare burger connoisseurs will have plenty of options to grub on in the next few months.

Two new burger joints will be opening their doors to Tulare residents: The Habit Burger and Wayback Burger

Construction is well underway for The Habit Burger located on Prosperity Avenue.

The burger restaurant, which also has a location in Visalia, took over the spot that long-housed fast food restaurant Long John Silvers.

Not too far from The Habit Burger, construction crews are also hard at work to open Wayback Burger along Tulare Avenue near Tulare Union High School.

City officials foresee the burger joint being a hot spot for students.

“I think it’s a lot better to have a hamburger restaurant so close to the high school,” said Jeff Killion, Tulare planning commission chairman. “I am glad to see that change.”

Tulare Associate Planner Steven Sopp said Wayback Burger will only take about half of the current 5,300 square-foot empty building.

Also, Wayback Burger can be a place millennials consider their third spot, what’s described in marketing as the place to go after home and work.

“Kids have money to spend. If they want to patronize the downtown businesses, it’s good for business,” he said. “This is going to be an upscale meeting place. It is going to be a different type of atmosphere.”

According to its website, Wayback Burger was founded in 1991 in Newark, DE. Currently, the hamburger chain has 142 locations in 28 states, including restaurants in Firebaugh and Tracy in the Central Valley.

Wayback Burger also has locations in Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

Hometown favorites

While trying new things is great, sometimes a good old-fashioned burger from your favorite hometown hangout is all you need.

Here are some of Tulare County’s best burger places, according to readers.

  • Woodlake Drive Inn, Woodlake
  • In-N-Out, Visalia
  • Mama K’s Diner, Visalia
  • Buns and Torts, Visalia
  • Rainbow Drive-In, Farmersville
  • Docs Drive-In, Visalia
  • Buzz’s Drive Inn, Goshen
  • Juicy Burger, Porterville
  • Sno-White Drive-In, Tulare
  • Pita Kabob, Visalia
  • Good Times Cafe, Visalia
  • Martha’s Mexican Food, Orosi.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/entertainment/dining/2018/08/30/burger-boom-hits-visalia-tulare/882303002/

VOLT Institute Graduates Inaugural Class

MODESTO, CA — On June 27, nearly a year after opening, VOLT Institute saw the graduation of its

first class of maintenance mechanic students. VOLT Institute, a partnership of Opportunity Stanislaus

and Stanislaus County Office of Education, was started at the request of local employers looking for

skilled candidates to fill existing and future vacancies. Employers set a priority of training maintenance

mechanics, a field with widespread shortages including over 300 openings in Stanislaus County alone.

Austin Parker, 22, is one of the graduates. He credits the program with his new job at Hughson Nut,

citing the teachers, hands-on learning, and personalized pace as benefits.

 

“VOLT was a greatopportunity,” said Parker. “It has already opened up a ton of doors for me. The instruction at VOLT

was hands-on and kept pace with students and the job placement assistance was beyond what any other

college would do. Thanks to VOLT I no longer just have a job- I have a career.”

 

Parker’s situation is not unique. In fact, VOLT boasts an 88% placement rate among graduates.

Opportunity Stanislaus CEO David White has been a driver of VOLT since the planning stages. “We

have come so far so fast and are excited about the momentum we’re gaining,” said White. “We have

the best equipment—machines that simulate industry facilities—and we have a team that is absolutely

committed to the success of the students. We look forward to great things.”

 

In addition to the 11-month Industrial Maintenance Mechanic program, VOLT also has a 3-month

Certified Production Technician program and workshops on a wide variety of business topics. Training

areas will continue to expand as the student population and capacity grows. “Stanislaus County Office

of Education has a tradition of preparing students for the workforce through education,” said Executive

Director Deb Rowe.

“VOLT is a great example of multi-sector partnership training, the industry

recognized certifications through VOLT qualify student for a living wage job which affirms we are

headed in the right direction to support our community and beyond.”

 

VOLT Institute recently made news when it was awarded $1,000,000 in the 2018-19 California State

Budget to expand training for high-demand careers in manufacturing, one of the county’s most critical

industries. The funding will support the expansion of an education and training partnership between

Modesto Junior College (MJC), Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), and Opportunity

Stanislaus to prepare students for jobs based on employer demand. The grant will serve as the local

match necessary for a federal United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development

Administration grant.

 

New classes start October 8 and continue through September 5 of 2019. For more information or to

enroll please visit www.voltinstitute.com or call 209.566.9102.

Tulare Meat Locker earns top prize at national competition

Calley Cederlof,

Aug. 1, 2018

For the second year in a row, Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.

Except this go around, he came home with even more “hardware” to showcase at his Tulare shop.

Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.

The sausage, which he recently dubbed the “Kansas City Red Hot” is the shop’s newest item on the menu. The sausage beat out 15 other competitors for the top spot, including a Kansas City local.

He is the first to win in the category, which was introduced this year, he said.

“I’m pretty proud of that,” Mendes said of the win. “Here I come from California and come out with grand champion.”

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

The hot-link is a regional item known mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, said Jon Frohling, past American Association of Meat Processors president.

“For a California boy to go down there and win that — it’s a big deal,” Frohling said. “Especially when you’re not eating it every day.”

Other awards earned by Mendes include reserve grand champions for his bone in ham and braunschweiger — a German liver sausage. His boneless ham won champion and his country dry cured bacon was crowned reserve champion.

Mendes said he is excited about the wins.

“It’s been great, especially in with the bone-in ham (category),” Mendes said. “That’s one that I’ve really been wanting to master.”

In total, Mendes brought 22 products to the event, which flew with him on the plane packed in ice.

This is only his second year at the competition. Last year, he earned grand champion for his smoked bratwurst sausage and reserve grand champion for his andouille sausage.

At the competition, products are judged on a 1,000-point scoring system. Judges score based on several factors including internal and external appearance, color, aroma and flavor — the most important of all, Frohling said.

“If you win at that show, you’ve got a great product,” he added.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage is one of only two shops in California to take home awards at this year’s event and is the smallest shop competing.

When he arrived home on Sunday, he was celebrated with family, friends and customers. It was also extra special, it was his birthday.

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

“My kids had signs that said, ‘welcome home Daddy,’ and we met up with family the next day,” Mendes said. “I got a lot of calls and texts. It was a warm welcoming for sure.”

Mendes also posted the news on Facebook, where customers and friends flooded him with congratulations messages.

“Not surprised because your meats are amazing and deserving of every one of these awards,” wrote Steven Jorgens.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co. offers custom butchering of livestock and fresh meat that isn’t sliced until ordered. Sausages, snack sticks, hams, tri-tip and linguica are also available.

In February, Mendes also took home 11 awards at the California Association of Meat Processors convention.

He’s already planning ahead to next summer when the national compeition will be held in Alabama.

For more information, call 688-2047 or visit the shop at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave. in Tulare.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/08/01/tulare-meat-locker-takes-home-top-prize-national-competition/872651002/

Fresno Food Expo opens with plenty of fancy food, drink and new name