VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES SHINE BRIGHT

VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES SHINE BRIGHT

The number of employees at Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc. dba Solar Negotiators increased to 78 this year. Photo contributed by Solar Negotiatiors.

Published On November 4, 2019 – 12:02 PM
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With The Business Journal’s 2019 Fastest Growing Companies list (published Oct. 25) comes a variety of companies ranging from upstarts in their industries to recognizable, household names that continue to grow today.

Three companies on the list — No. 5 Boling Air Media you might see at Fresno State games and at the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show; No. 2 Suncrest Bank has been in Tulare County since 2008, expanding beyond the Valley in recent years; and the No. 1 company, Solar Maintenance Pros dba Solar Negotiators — found success offering a variety of services in an emerging market.

 

Absorbing the rays

At the beginning of 2016, then-Solar Negotiators and Solar Maintenance Pros hadn’t yet finished the leg of their journey that brought them to being a multimillion-dollar company experiencing nearly 12,000% revenue growth over three years.

The solar brokerage firm that connected homeowners to installers was still separate from the solar panel cleaning service, Solar Maintenance Pros. But by this year, Solar Maintenance Pros surpassed Negotiators in revenue and employees. Leadership decided to combine the two companies into the same entity, offering both installations under their own contractor’s license and upkeep throughout the solar panel’s lifetime.

Owner Chris Moran started Solar Negotiators in 2009, offering consultative services to customers and contracting with a network of installers. They would do marketing, project management and consultations and “anything that didn’t require a contractor’s license,” said Leroy Coffman, president/co-owner of the now-combined Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc., dba Solar Negotiators. This allowed contractors to focus on installations instead of marketing and business development. In 2014, ownership expanded their offerings with maintenance services.

In the Central Valley’s four-county area, 10,000 solar permits are issued every year, estimates Coffman. And in the Central Valley’s dry, dusty climate, Coffman says panels should be cleaned every year to optimize efficiency. Dirty panels limit a panel’s power intake. That’s when Moran, Coffman and others started Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc.

“Solar Maintenance Pros enabled us to be more proactive in that we visit the customer site once a year and give it a visual inspection,” Coffman said. “It turned out that was a very important need that wasn’t being filled.”

Now, Coffman calls Solar Maintenance Pros the “largest provider of solar panel maintenance in the Central Valley.” They even started a company to monitor a system’s power intake and output called Solar Data Pros.

At the beginning of 2016, Solar Maintenance had 3 employees, grossing $44,095 in revenue. With the consolidated company, they now employ 78 people and in 2018, grossed $5.29 million.

“Those people are counting on that power to offset their bill,” Coffman said. “We want to become the top provider of maintenance services and cleaning services for all of those systems.”

 

Growth as a strategy

What was once limited to $99 million in assets and two branches in Tulare County ended up with more than $1 billion in assets and seven branches, stretching from Yuba City to Porterville.

Visalia-based Suncrest Bank is no stranger to lists measuring growth.

As part of a strategy of acquiring assets dating back to 2013, the 800% asset growth the bank experienced between 2013 and 2018 made them the fastest growing community bank in the nation, said Ciaran McMullan, president/CEO.

“We wanted to grow quickly and we wanted to grow by acquisition,” McMullan said.

Three successful capital raises primed them to acquire banks in Fresno, Yuba City and Sacramento, the latter two being new markets for the bank.

They called the goal “Five-in-five” — to grow by $500 million in five years. They met that goal 18 months ahead of schedule in July 2017. By their target date of May 2018, they held more than $900 million in assets.

“We surpassed even our grand ambition we set out at the end of 2013,” McMullan said.

Those assets have translated into 468% revenue growth since 2016, allowing the bank to expand from 25 employees to 108. The market expansion and asset acquisition put Suncrest in a good position long into the future, he added.

“What it does more than anything else to ready us for the future is it really deepens our talent pool,” McMullan said. “It also broadens our geographic exposure.”

 

Eye to the skies

At No. 5 on The Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies list, football fans and aeronautics advocates alike might recognize Boling Air Media’s presence in the skies.

Husband-and-wife team Chris and MaryAnn Boling started the advertising company in 2014 as a way to combine their two passions — marketing and flying.

“My passion has always been to fly, which is a very expensive hobby,” said Chris Boling.

The duo found a way to monetize the pastime by offering marketing opportunities, flying banners and blimps. While technically called a thermal airship due to its using exhaust to move and stay afloat, the company began with the “My Job Depends on Ag” blimp, said Boling. They signed a contract with Fresno State, using skydivers to bring in messages and enliven crowds during halftime shows. They’ve started making appearances at air shows, including the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show in September. They’ve done marketing campaigns for national advertisers towing banners and dropping divers to deliver messages.

“Anytime someone wants to put a message up in the air, we can find a media for them,” Boling said.

While there are only 10 pilots in the world who can fly the airship, Boling added, they rely on pilots looking for commercial certification to tow messages. Renting planes to get the necessary 1,500 hours of flying time can be expensive, he said. So, the company contracts with those pilots to deliver messages to the public.

“We’re all living out our wildest dreams thanks to this business,” he said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/valleys-fastest-growing-companies-shine-bright/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=6cd41e0e0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_04_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-6cd41e0e0c-78934409&mc_cid=6cd41e0e0c&mc_eid=a126ded657

MILK PROCESSOR BUYS VISALIA PLANT

Milk Specialties Global, a maker of milk-based nutritional ingredients, has purchased the Visalia milk-processing plant it has leased since 2012. Photo via MSG

Published On November 22, 2019 – 2:15 PM
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Milk Specialties Global, a maker of milk-based nutritional ingredients, has purchased the Visalia milk-processing plant it has leased since 2012.

“The acquisition of the facility demonstrates the company’s commitment to continue to operate the facility that employees 74 people and processes over two million pounds of raw milk per day,” states a press release issued by the Minnesota-based company.

MSG officials didn’t disclose the price paid for the 80,000-square-foot plant.

Milk brought to the Visalia plant is processed into liquid calf milk replacer and proteins most commonly used in sports nutrition drinks.

Liquid calf milk replacer is commonly used by dairies and calf ranches to feed pre-weaned calves.

The press release goes on to say that MSG has made significant investments to expand its Visalia production capacity, operational efficiencies and improve its sustainability. “By acquiring the facility, the company is securing this critical asset to support the long-term future growth of their business.

“After acquiring the facility, we are committed to making further investments in the operation to keep up with our customers’ growing demand while continuing to maintain our quality reputation,” Troy Peifer, MSG’s chief financial officer, said in the release.

The factory is located at 715 N. Divisadero St.

“The Visalia facility is critical to our milk protein business and continued success in manufacturing ingredients that are used in nutritional products for consumers and animals around the world,” Peifer added.

Massive solar project 8 years in the making debuts in eastern Kern

Eastern Kern County’s vast renewable-energy potential will shine brightly Friday as corporate and government leaders celebrate the completion of an eight-year, roughly 1,400-acre photovoltaic project designed to generate enough electricity to power more than 150,000 homes in the Los Angeles area.

With a price tag estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, L.A.-based 8minute Solar Energy’s three-phase Springbok project in Cantil has put the area’s otherwise underused real estate to use creating some 850 construction and maintenance positions, as well as 1,100 indirect jobs.

Viewed in the context of existing wind farms in the Tehachapi area and a larger solar plant under development nearby by the same company, the project demonstrates the renewable-energy potential of a county that is sometimes overshadowed by its better-known oil and gas portfolio.

The project’s developer described its achievement in historic terms.

“The Springbok cluster is the first place in the country where solar beat the price of fossil fuels,” 8minute Solar spokesman Jeff McKay said by email. “This is where we helped prove to the world that the future of energy belongs to solar.”

County Supervisor Zack Scrivner, whose district encompasses the project, welcomed the project’s completion.

“I support appropriately located renewable energy projects that hire locally and contribute to the organizations and needs of the community,” Scrivner said by email. “8Minute Energy has shown they are here for the long term and I congratulate them on another successful project in the center of energy for California.”

The project’s 448-megawatt-dc of electricity is being sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the city of Glendale.

Next up for 8minute Solar is the project known as Eland, a more than $1 billion installation touted as the nation’s largest solar energy project. Sited a little more than half a mile away from the Springbok cluster, it was recently approved by the city of Los Angeles.

What makes Eland special is its energy-storage capacity. Besides generating some 400 megawatts of power, it is designed to store up to 1,200 megawatt-hours of electricity when it opens in 2023, according to 8minute Solar.

Also extraordinary is its cost: Eland is said to offer the lowest combined solar and storage prices anywhere.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/massive-solar-project-years-in-the-making-debuts-in-eastern/article_50683350-0735-11ea-b562-df2a68bf6796.html

IRS looking to fill 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Looking for a job?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking for qualified applicants to fill over 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno.

The agency is looking for clerks, data entry clerks, and tax examiners for jobs up to four months.

According to the IRS, a clerk will generally sort and open mail, tax returns and organize files. A data entry clerk’s main duty will be to key in numeric data from tax returns on a computer while a tax examiner normally reviews returns for accuracy and errors.

The agency says people of all ages can apply.

Those interested should search for job announcements on usajobs.gov with the keyword “Internal Revenue Service” and location Fresno, CA.

In September, the IRS announced it would be shutting down the Fresno tax return processing center following the 2021 season. Around 3,000 of the center’s 5,700 full-time and seasonal employees will be laid off.

Kern Community College District receives $678,514 to assist local companies to train employees

  • November 20, 2019

Kern Community College District’s Board of Trustees approved a contract with the California Employment Training Panel which will provide KCCD up to $678,514 in funds to help local companies improve the skills of their workforce through training.

The contract period is two years.

The California Employment Training Panel provides funding to employers to assist in upgrading the skills of their workers through training that leads to good paying, long-term jobs. This is KCCD’s seventh ETP contract.

Kern Community College District will utilize these funds to help businesses throughout its service area including Bakersfield College, Porterville College and Cerro Coso Community College.

KCCD’s ETP contract allows for training in various areas including industrial skills, continuous improvement, computer skills, management and leadership skills, safety, and medical skills.

Companies interested in accessing these training funds may contact Bill Elliott at Kern Community College District at 661-395-4109 or at welliott@kccd.edu.

2019 California Economic Summit Bolsters Commitment to Propel Inland Economic Growth and the CA Dream


Governor Gavin Newsom addressing the 2019 California Economic Summit on November 8 in Fresno (Photo: David Jon Photography/CAFwd)

The 2019 California Economic Summit concluded in Fresno, marking its eighth and largest gathering where more than 900 public, private and civic leaders from across California came together to commit to policies and programs that will make the California dream accessible to all. The Summit focused on workforce development, education, housing, infrastructure and ecosystem vitality, with an emphasis on lifting economic growth in all regions of state.

Produced by California Forward (CA Fwd), the Summit is built upon the principle that regional approaches to economic problem solving are critical to advancing the state’s triple bottom line strategy of growing the economy, improving environmental quality, and increasing opportunity for all residents.

“All Californians deserve the opportunity to thrive in an inclusive and sustainable economy that builds upon the strength of each of our unique regions,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom who also told Summit attendees during his keynote address that the best is yet to come in California. “Our Regions Rise Together initiative is an important step in ensuring inland communities are represented, as together we work to address some of our most pressing economic challenges.”

In May, Governor Newsom announced the Regions Rise Together initiative, an effort led by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) in partnership with CA Fwd and numerous local and regional leaders. Meetings were held in September and October in various parts of the state including the Inland Empire, Kern County, San Joaquin Valley, and northern California, to share ideas on how to promote the economic growth of inland regions.

The Summit set the stage for additional announcements in higher-education, workforce development and forest resiliency to bolster economic growth, specifically in inland regions, including:

  • The governor pledged $10 million to The Fresno Collaborative, a pilot program, which will involve a better integration among UC Merced, Cal State campuses in the Central Valley, local community colleges, and local school districts to prepare students for employment in Fresno and the Central Valley.
  • The Central Valley Community Foundation with 150 organizations announced the DRIVE Community Investment Plan, which aims to attract $4.2 billion of investments over 10 years to the Central Valley.
  • Josh Fryday, Chief Service Officer for the State of California announced a $13.1 million investment to create service opportunities that will help address educational and health needs across the Central and San Joaquin Valleys.
  • State philanthropists pledged an additional $23 million for programs in inland California.
  • Greg Norton, President and CEO of Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), announced the establishment of the Golden State Natural Resources, a nonprofit, public benefit corporation that will provide economic growth opportunities while addressing the state’s wildfire crisis.

“The California Economic Summit is especially important in this time of political polarization and immense public challenges,” said Micah Weinberg, CEO of CA Fwd. “No single political party or interest group ever has the full picture and the Summit is one of the few places where people come together across parties and interests to tackle the tough questions and make real progress for the people of California.”

In addition, the Summit presented two annual awards, the California Steward Leader Awards recognizing individuals for their signification contributions to advancing the state’s triple bottom line and the Partnership for Industry and Education (PIE) Award Contest, sponsored by The Walt Disney Company, honoring innovative partnerships between educational institutions and private or public organizations.

Next year, the Summit will be hosted in Monterey on December 3 and 4. The annual California Economic Summit has been held in Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Ontario, San Diego, and Santa Rosa.

https://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/2019-california-economic-summit-bolsters-commitment-to-propel-inland-econom