US Cold Storage in Tulare plans $76 mil expansion after food package deal

United States Cold Storage Inc. expects to complete an 8.56- million-cubic-foot refrigerated addition at its Tulare North warehouse in Tulare come February 2025.

This $75.7 million expansion will include some of the industry’s latest storage and retrieval automation and bring the operation’s total space to more than 24.7 million cubic feet, the largest single footprint in the company’s network.

“I am thrilled for our fifth strategic expansion in Tulare,” said Rod Noll, USCS senior vice president for the Western Region. “This expansion reflects the continued growth of some of our major customers who are broadening their manufacturing capabilities. Specifically, we have a consumer-packaged goods customer relocating its business to northern California and to this facility.

“Meanwhile, we also look forward to contributing to the local Tulare business community and creating additional job opportunities.”

Tulare City Manager Marc Mondell added praise. “US Cold Storage has been a fantastic local employer and partner for over 20 years,” he said.  We are thrilled that they are making another large investment into their Tulare facility and look forward to many more years of successful collaboration.”

US Cold Storage plans to break ground for the attached expansion this month, which will ultimately include two new refrigerated rooms capable of storage down to -20F degrees. Officials expect by this November to complete a conventional storage space spanning 3.08 million cubic feet. A second, 5.48 million-cubic- foot room is scheduled to open in February 2025. That space will feature very narrow aisle storage serviced by a warehouse guidance system and semi-automated, turret-style storage and retrieval forklifts.

Upon completion, Tulare North will have approximately 98,500 available pallet positions. The addition also includes 23 more shipping and receiving doors for the operation’s dock, which will boast 73 doors after completion.

“Tulare North is one of our largest facilities in the West Region,” Noll added. “Being a multi-dimensional facility, it can handle a large range of storage temperature requirements. Offering the flexibility of food grade ambient, refrigerated, frozen, and ice cream storage temps allows us to customize our services for many types of customers and many stages of production.”

USCS first built its Tulare North operation in 2002 as a 3.4 million-cubic-foot dry warehouse. Tulare North also offers import and export services, rail handling and product re-pack services. It also is certified according to the BRCGS Food Safety Global Standard. USCS also services the area from a second Tulare operation, a 7.3 million-cubic-foot Tulare South facility, which also offers ambient and refrigerated storage. USCS’s cold storage and logistics network spans 40 sites from coast to coast, including nine California locations from Sacramento and south to Bakersfield.  The company is a subsidiary of the U.K.’s John Swire & Sons Ltd.

Another Industrial Tenant Signs at Tejon Ranch in Southern California

Another industrial tenant is moving its operations to part of the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center (TRCC) on the biggest piece of private land in California. The joint venture of Tejon Ranch Company and Majestic Realty Company announced Tuesday that CSW Industrials’ RectorSeal, which manufactures heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and plumbing products, is moving from Los Angeles into half of a 480,000-square-foot facility at the expansive master-planned development in southwestern Kern County. The asking rent and lease rate were not disclosed.

The developer said it has secured more than 2.5 million square feet of industrial leases at TRCC over the past 24 months. The 1,450-acre development is at the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 99, about an hour north of the L.A. basin. It’s also home to distribution centers for tenants that include Ikea, Camping World, Caterpillar, Dollar General, Famous Footwear and L’Oréal.

Last month, Tejon Ranch Company announced it closed a $160 million unsecured revolving credit facility with AgWest Farm Credit to fund construction projects, farming and ranching operations, and pay for general corporate expenses.

JLL (JLL)’s Mike McCrary, Mac Hewett, Brent Weirick and Peter McWilliams manage the TRCC listing and represented the landlords on the RectorSeal transaction. Walt Chenoweth and Sean Sullivan with Voit Real Estate Services represented RectorSeal.

Tulare cheese plant expansion to make more feta

The world’s largest cheese maker is now hoping to capitalize on America’s fastest growing cheese product by expanding its plant in Tulare. Lactalis, the world’s largest cheese maker, filed plans with the city earlier this month to expand the cheese plant on Highway 99 it acquired in a merger with Kraft in 2021. The company wants to add a new 38,300 square foot building that will produce and package feta cheese. Construction is expected to start soon and be ready for use by December. It will operate on a 24/7 schedule and hire some 22 new employees, according to Lactalis.

The new facility could be the first large commercial production of feta cheese in California other than boutique and artisanal makers. Lactalis already markets its brands of feta cheese under various labels including its top seller, President.

Feta cheese is a pickled curd cheese with a salty and tangy taste due to its coupling with brine solution. Popular in Greek cooking the product has taken off in the US (like Greek yogurt) and now is expanding rapidly due to increased use in the fast food industry. In comparison with other cheeses, Feta is a low-fat variety often used on salads and Mediterranean dishes. In Europe and elsewhere, feta cheese is often a blend of cow milk with goat or sheep milk. Here it will be just cow’s milk.

A recent report says “The global feta cheese market size was valued at $10.5 billion in 2019, and is anticipated to reach $15.6 billion by 2028, with a [compound annual growth rate] of 5.7% during the forecast period. The market is expected to exhibit an incremental revenue opportunity of $5.0 billion from 2019 to 2028.”

Already the world’s leader in cheese production, Lactalis acquired a portfolio of iconic cheese brands from Kraft including Cracker Barrel, Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Hoffman’s and a perpetual license for the use of the Kraft brand in natural, grated and international cheeses. Lactalis also acquired the Cheez Whiz brand outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the Philippines and a license for the use of the Velveeta brand in natural and international cheeses. The acquisition included approximately 750 employees and three production facilities located in Tulare, Calif., Walton, N.Y. and Wausau, Wisc. The Kraft/Lactalis plant in Tulare currently employs around 250 people to make mozzarella and parmesan varieties and now feta.

In 2021 before the acquisition of Kraft, the U.S. Department of Justice required Lactalis to divest itself of Kraft’s Athenos, the top selling feta cheese brand in the U.S., and Polly-O brands. They did that. Now Athenos is owned by a Swiss-based company called The Emmi Group.

The Tulare plant and Lactalis’ other U.S. businesses are operating as Lactalis Heritage Dairy, a newly formed division of Lactalis based in Chicago. Groupe Lactalis, the world’s leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 51 countries, with 266 dairies and cheese dairies throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition. The company also offers products from emblematic international brands such as Président, Galbani and Parmalat.

Tesla Presents Its New Megapack Factory In Lathrop, California

Tesla’s all-new battery energy storage system (BESS) factory in Lathrop, California is almost ready and is ramping up production. This week, the company showed a short video, presenting the plant and some of the production processes, on its Linkedin profile. Tesla is now looking for more employees – but that’s not a surprise, as basically the entire EV industry is investing and competing for workers. The site in Lathrop is pretty big as it’s envisioned for an annual output of 40 GWh of Tesla Megapack systems (according to the announcement from 2021).

A single Megapack container has a capacity of about 3 MWh, plus all necessary power electronics. At 40 GWh, Tesla should be able to produce more than 13,000 Megapacks per year. That’s an order of magnitude increase compared to its 2021 output. With the new manufacturing facility, Tesla’s Energy business is now expected to quickly expand. The company recently set a new quarterly record of 2.1 GWh of battery energy storage system deployment (all types).

Once the Lathrop plant is completed, more than 10 GWh to be installed per quarter. That will be a groundbreaking change for the entire industry and potentially a huge help to utilities, which are looking for high-volume and reasonably priced battery systems. Tesla’s advantage will be large BESS like the Megapack, series production at high volume and use of the Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry (the company previously announced the switch to LFP cells in entry-level version of its cars – Model 3/Model Y, and energy storage systems).

Currently, BESS accounts for only several percent of Tesla’s total revenues and margins are much lower than in the case of cars. Because the company is quickly expanding its EV business (higher production of cars and new models), we guess that in the foreseeable future, BESS share will remain under 10%.

Another manufacturing facility for Patterson, boosting jobs for Stanislaus County

A new manufacturing plant in western Stanislaus County will provide more space to make office furniture for high-tech firms and will increase the company’s workforce. HPL Contract of Patterson is proposing the 128,800-square-foot facility in the West Patterson Business Park, according to plans submitted to the city. HPL, based in a facility on Baldwin Road in Patterson, plans the two-story building with robotic equipment on eight acres at 2501 Keystone Pacific Parkway, east of Haggerty Drive.

The project will increase HPL’s workforce in Patterson to between 50 and 80 employees. Founded in 1997, HPL makes office furniture for Silicon Valley businesses and global companies including Facebook and Google. Plans for the new facility call for hours of operation Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The development plans were submitted to City Hall in February. The size of the facility triggers a city requirement for 273 parking spaces, according to city planning reports, but the City Council is considering new parking standards for manufacturing facilities.

If the council approves the new parking standards of one space per 1,000 square feet, the HPL facility will have 152 parking spaces, including 24 for electric vehicles. If the City Council does not approve the parking standard amendments, HPL will need to work 273 spaces into the development plan. Keith Schneider, the applicant, said a fewer number of parking spaces makes sense for the manufacturing plant. “Manufacturing today is more highly sophisticated and more automated with high-skilled employees,” Schneider said. Patterson is looking at updated parking requirements for automated and robotic manufacturing facilities, which employ fewer workers than traditional factories.

A survey found that some other cities have more lenient standards than Patterson’s one parking space per 500 square feet. Fresno’s standard is one space per 1,500 square feet of floor area. Merced and Turlock require one space per 1,000 square feet, while Tracy requires one per 600 square feet. Patterson’s planning commission approved an architectural review of the HPL facility Thursday. The city hasn’t set a council hearing on the parking standards.

After city permits are approved, construction of the HPL facility is expected to be completed in 12 months. The company will move its operations from two locations in Patterson to the new building, Schneider said. HPL’s website says the business is committed to sustainable work environments and business practices based on sound economics, environmental protection and social responsibility.

Plant Prefab to Open Nation’s First Automated Factory Dedicated to Efficiently and Sustainably Building Multifamily and Single-Family Housing

A preview of Plant Prefab’s first automated factory, a 270,000-square-foot regional production hub opening in 2023. Located in the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center just south of Bakersfield, CA, the factory enables Plant Prefab to serve the entire Western United States. The factory increases Plant Prefab’s production capacity to support large-scale developments, while enabling a step change in production velocity, quality control, and sustainability.

Local manufacturer creating braces for Las Vegas Raiders

When the Las Vegas Raiders take the field this season, they’ll bring a little piece of Bakersfield with them — beyond starting quarterback and Bakersfield Christian alum Derek Carr, that is.

The local medical equipment manufacturer Townsend Design faces stiff competition in supplying its knee and elbow braces and carbon-fiber footplate to professional sports teams. This season, however, the 38-year-old company, owned by French firm Thuasne, will supply the Raiders with specialized bracing for their offensive and defensive lines. The teamwide deal is the first of its kind for the company, said Brian Franklin, its vice president of national accounts. “We’re kind of looked at as a custom shop, or a custom fabrication manufacturer,” Franklin said. “And it’s not just putting an off-the-shelf, or a standard-sizing brace, on one of their million-dollar athletes.” The Raiders relationship was previously nurtured by Townsend’s San Jose-based former Director of Sports Bracing Steve Bartlinski back when the team was in Oakland.

When Townsend was founded in 1984, it didn’t take long to get its equipment on some of the most prominent athletes of the era. The company touts Troy Aikman, John Elway, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice, plus a few key players outside football, like Shaquille O’Neal, among its clients. But over the years, Bartlinski said, Townsend became better known for orthotics and prosthetics beyond the sports world. “There was a little bit of a lull where we didn’t really have a relationship,” Franklin added, “maybe with the newer orthopedic surgeons that were taking kind of the helm as team docs, and some of the newer training staffs that were coming into a lot of the teams.”

Bartlinski was introduced to the product in 2008 as the head athletic trainer at Stanford. He complained to an orthotist friend about how the supposedly “custom-fit” braces he was ordering from other companies never actually fit his athletes, and the friend recommended he give Townsend a shot. “They were super durable … and mechanically, they stayed in place,” Bartlinski said, “the hinge worked similar to what the knee does, and it just made it a really common-sense approach.” He later joined the company in 2017 in a newly created sports bracing role and immediately started drawing on his connections from the training world, using his medical knowledge to help explain the science behind the braces. (Essentially, they use a three-dimensional scan of an extremity to build the brace, which centers on the hinge secured by a non-elastic strap.)

Bartlinski built from the ground up, focusing on junior colleges that might not typically receive preferential treatment from brace manufacturers, with an emphasis on price transparency. At Stanford, he said, a company would offer him 30 braces for free, but then they’d turn around and go to City College of San Francisco and gouge them. “My goal was to basically formulate a program that would be conducive to any budget within the athletic training, sports medicine world,” Bartlinski said. “We provided systematic discounts across the board for schools, whether it be a high school, a junior college like Bakersfield College or the Las Vegas Raiders.” Townsend has strengthened its relationships in recent years, Franklin said, thanks to extensive networking that includes appearances at an alphabet soup of conferences and conventions: the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons), NATA (National Athletic Trainers’ Association), PFATS (Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society) and more.

Bartlinski left Thuasne in 2020 and now leads sports medicine at San Jose State, where the Spartans wear Townsend braces. “I have nothing but fond memories of my time there,” he said, “but I also have nothing but great fond memories and appreciation for the science that was put into creating these braces back in the 80s.”

Pacific Steel awards main contract for $350M California rebar mill

Pacific Steel Group anticipates an early-2025 start for a 380,000 ton/year rebar mill in Mojave, Calif., integrating the facility with its fabrication and installation businesses. The company has awarded a contract to Pennsylvania-based Danieli Corp. to build an advanced MIDA Hybrid micro mill, potentially powered by adjacent solar arrays. With four North American rebar mill installations since 2009, the MIDA milling technology yields production efficiencies through “endless” casting and rolling and lowers energy consumption by eliminating the need for the second heating phase typical of steel bar production.

The Mojave facility will help lower carbon dioxide emissions through world class productivity metrics, reduced transportation requirements for Southwest region concrete contractors, and the use of green energy, Pacific Steel affirms. “We are excited about partnering with Danieli to build one of the cleanest, safest and most efficient steel mills in the world,” adds Chairman Eric Benson.

New Patterson sustainable high-tech building company begins hiring; 250 jobs coming

A sustainable building company finishing its “MegaFactory” in Patterson has started hiring. Palo Alto-based S²A Modular announced plans for its new manufacturing plant in Patterson earlier this year. Construction got started over the summer and now the company has begun its initial hiring phase, which consists of about 40…


The facility housing a Fresno manufacturing company has joined the portfolio of a local development firm. Fresno-based Cook Land Co. (CLC) has announced the purchase of the LAKOS Filtration Systems manufacturing facility for $6.9 million. Located at 1365 N. Clovis Ave. in Fresno, the 93,000 square foot facility was built in 1972 by local entrepreneur Claude Laval.

This purchase is one in a series of recent acquisitions for the real estate development and management company, which has been in businesses in the Central Valley for nearly 70 years. The facility will remain headquarters for LAKOS  with Cook Land Co. owning and managing the property. “We identified the LAKOS property as a great strategic addition in our commercial real estate portfolio, furthering our commitment to invest locally right here in the Central Valley,” said Todd Cook, partner at Cook Land Co. LAKOS has leased 78,000 square feet back from Cook Land Co., and an additional 15,000 square feet has been leased to Performance Contracting Inc., a Fresno construction company in business for more than 60 years.