Registration opens for 6th “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit

 

  • Set for April 21, 2020 in Fresno
  • Features keynote speaker John Shegerian The 6th annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is scheduled for April 21, 2020 in Fresno, say the sponsors, the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and the Fresno Business Council. It is scheduled to feature keynote speaker John Shegerian, co-founder and executive chairman of Fresno-based ERI.

More than 1,000 representatives from the manufacturing industry are expected for the day-long event at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Registration is open by visiting www.sjvma.org. Also sponsorships and exhibit space are available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email (genelle@sjvma.org) or calling 559.214.0140.

The event is designed as a workshop and resource expo that celebrates the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce.

“The goal … is to provide manufacturers with the needed resources and workforce connections to upscale and train existing employees for today’s automated technologies, and to attract the next generation workforce to grow the industry and region for a brighter future,” says Troy Brandt, chairman of the board for the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and general manager at Hydratech.

Mr. Shegerian is scheduled to talk about how to attract and retain effective employees and clients through good times and bad. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Shegerian co-founded several organizations built on his philosophies of making the world a better place one business at a time, and of providing a second chance to those who are most in need. His philosophies have led him to run the largest electronic recycling company in the U.S., among other ventures.

“The convention center will be filled with the leading lights of the Central Valley’s manufacturing industry and many of my fellow local business leaders, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to share useful takeaways regarding positive culture team building and how to balance best employee retention practices and effective operations with growing a profitable enterprise,” says Mr. Shegerian.

The San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s gross domestic product and employs more than 105,000 people. Nationally, it is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled due to baby-boomer retirements.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/c1ad790b-010c-4a85-8e70-0e8f5ff54f78.pdf

In Lathrop, it’s time for solar sausages

Central Valley Busines Times

December 11, 2019

  • Hormel Foods flips the switch for solar power at its Swiss American Sausage Company facility
  • “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals”

Pizza toppings are made out of many ingredients but now, in Lathrop, they’re being made with solar power. The Hormel Foods Swiss American Sausage Company plant in Lathrop is now making a variety of pepperoni and salami for foodservice pizza toppings with power from 2,000 solar panels installed on both the plant roof and on the ground. The project is projected to generate roughly 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to supply more than 15 percent of the plant’s annual electricity consumption.

IGS Solar partnered with Holt Renewables LLC to install the solar array, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 288 metric tons per year,  equivalent to removing 61 cars from the road annually or avoiding burning over 314,000 pounds of coal.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of this project,” says Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods. “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals and is another example of our commitment and support of renewable energy. ”IGS Solar will own, operate and maintain the array. The company is assisting Hormel Foods to integrate solar generation into its energy portfolio while helping the company better control the long-term energy costs for its buildings.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/04bea1e5-526d-41c8-8305-eff7a6f5ded0.pdf

Plans emerge for major cannabis facility in Modesto. Up to 250 jobs are projected

 
A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California.

A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California. 

A Canada-based company has big plans to manufacture and distribute cannabis products from an expansive building in Modesto.

In April, Transcanna Holdings Inc. announced the purchase of the 196,000-square-foot building on Daly Avenue in the Beard Industrial District. The company with corporate offices in Vancouver has also acquired locally based Lyfted Farms, a county-permitted cannabis business that will manage the Modesto operations.

Lyfted is seeking a permit from Stanislaus County for growing cannabis in a 32,700-square-foot area inside the building. Cannabis products would be processed and packaged in the former turkey processing plant and distributed to retail outlets in California.

At full scale, the production facility operating seven days a week could employ 200 to 250 workers. In addition to cannabis flower, pre-rolls, oils and cannabidiol, the plant would use an extraction process to make edibles and vaping products.

The three-story facility also has the ability to freeze harvested cannabis to preserve its essential ingredients.

“We like indoor growing, but most of the facility would be for distribution and manufacturing,” said Steve Giblin, Transcanna’s chief executive officer.

Plans are to begin operations in the first quarter of 2020 with a small cultivation area and distribution, said Bob Blink, chief executive officer of Lyfted Farms. Security measures will include an 8-foot perimeter fence, surveillance cameras, an alarm system and at least three security guards.

“It is very secure,” Blink said. “Security is a big point locally and in the state. It has the best security around just by the way the building is designed.”

Transcanna is a startup company formed two years ago. With the Modesto processing plant, Transcanna’s website says, the company is positioned to serve the cannabis market in California, which apparently is regarded as the largest in the world. Extensive improvements have been made to the building.

The company’s stock is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The stock price has swung from $7.88 per share in May to closing at 79 cents on Monday.

A county Planning Commission hearing on the project could be set for Dec. 19, if the applicants come through with requested information for the county this week, or the hearing could be held in January.

County Senior Planner Kristin Doud said staff was waiting for information such as whether rooftop parking would be utilized. In addition, the county and the applicant still were discussing the fees to be paid to the county. A facility of that size could generate millions of dollars in fees over a five-year period.

A study on air quality and odor control could raise some questions before the Planning Commission, and traffic is another potential issue.

Doud said the cannabis fees spelled out in development agreements are based on the cultivation square-footage and anticipated output of manufacturing and distribution or may be a simple 3 percent of gross sales.

An earlier proposal for the Daly Avenue building was one of the original applications in 2017 when the county rolled out its permitting program for commercial cannabis, which was legalized by Proposition 64. A county screening process rejected that first application because it included too many applicants for one site, Doud said.

Lyfted came forward with the current application when a second county application window opened in August.

Transcanna said in April it had purchased the Daly facility for $15 million and would make an $8 million down payment, while the seller, Cool Swang, carried a $6.5 million promissory note at 7 percent interest for 13 months. In October, the company said the loan’s maturity date was being extended six months and issued 500,000 in restricted shares of stock (priced at 56 cents) to Cool Swang to settle a $280,000 fee. Cool Swang is owned by Chad Swan.

When asked about the company’s current stock value, Giblin said there was initial enthusiasm for investing in the cannabis industry but the realities of business are now affecting the stock price. Investors will want to see profits on the horizon.

Giblin said he expects the Daly building and the strong facility management team will help establish investor confidence. Alan Applonie was hired in June as the plant’s general manager. According to a news release, Applonie was instrumental in growing a consumer packaged goods company “from startup to two billion dollars in annual revenues” and has infrastructure systems experience with Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and Kroger.

Transcanna also will rely on the expertise of Lyfted Farms. Earlier this year, county supervisors approved a permit for Lyfted to grow cannabis indoors and package products in a 19,500-square-foot warehouse on Jerusalem Court in north Modesto.

The Canadian firm also acquired a cannabis business called SolDaze, which is based in Santa Cruz.

Giblin, who has a history of turning companies around in the hotel and real estate industries, said the company needs to obtain the county permit and then approval from the state.

“We are happy about the strategic purchase of the Daly building and we really like Modesto,” Giblin said. “We think it’s a great place to grow.”

https://www.modbee.com/news/local/article238194959.html

FRESNO COUNTY ECONOMIC FORECAST: INTERNATIONAL INTEREST COMES ROLLING IN

Construction activity in Fresno keeps coming, including this three-story office building under construction near Palm and Herndon avenues. Photo by Edward Smith.

Published On December 4, 2019 – 1:33 PM
Written By 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of four economic forecasts The Business Journal does every year for each of the four counties in our coverage area.

This seems to be a prime time for the world to kick the tires on Fresno County.

Interest from companies from far-flung countries including China and Japan has kept economic development officials busy, and even corporate America is taking a closer look at locating in Fresno County on the heels of Amazon and Ulta’s investment in e-commerce distribution centers.

At the same time, Fresno County’s agricultural sector continues to reassert itself as a force to be reckoned with. In fact, based off 2018 crop statistics, Fresno County once again became the top agricultural county in California and the U.S. — a position it hasn’t held since 2013.

Economic development and job creation are job one for Fresno County Economic Development Corp. Will Oliver, director of business services for the Fresno County EDC, noted that 2019 “was filled with much activity, interest and momentum.”

Fresno County welcomed new out-of-state e-commerce operations who either located facilities here or contracted with local third-party logistics partners, Oliver said.

Oliver noted considerable interest in the small cities of Fresno County. One example is Initiative Foods, which is one of the nation’s largest baby food manufacturers, and a major international exporter. It recently completed a 30,000 square foot addition at its Sanger manufacturing plant. Another city, Reedley, is using available resources to lure an advanced food manufacturer.

The region’s designation as a federal Opportunity Zone has done much to jumpstart some of that interest, Oliver noted. The geographical designation provides incentives in the form of reduced capital gains taxes on investments for capital projects.

Fresno County is preparing to kick Opportunity Zone marketing of the region into high gear.

“Much groundwork has been laid to support Opportunity Zone investments by preparing projects and developing a digital prospectus to market the region’s assets, which will be live in 2020,” Oliver said.

Kingsburg recently made big news with T-Mobile’s announcement that it planned to locate a call center there that would create 1,000 jobs, which would be a major jolt to the local economy. That project is contingent on the telecommunication company’s successful merger with Sprint.

Fresno had a bit of a coming-out party earlier this month as host of the California Economic Summit, which included announcements of millions of dollars in investment into the Central Valley. It provided some much-needed momentum heading into the New Year, Oliver noted.

“2020 will certainly be focused on recruiting and expanding high-growth, traded sector companies and industries, such as in health care, agricultural technology and manufacturing,” Oliver said.

On the international front, while much of the economic development work is understandably behind the scenes and not for public consumption, word has trickled down that a Japanese company called Manda Fermentation Co. is on the verge of locating operations in Fresno County. Other Asian countries are looking at the county, undoubtedly drawn to it as a center for international agriculture.

On the agricultural front, Jan. 31, 2020, is a pivotal deadline as the state’s water managers — large and small — must provide plans for how they will manage groundwater usage under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO/executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said the sustainability plans will take 20 years to implement, with progress reports required every five years. But just getting to this stage has taken a lot of time, not to mention paperwork, as each plan is “hundreds, if not thousands of pages long,” he said.

Jacobsen said a number of factors — ongoing trade negotiations with China, new federal scientific guidelines on the pumping of water from the delta and engaged leadership on the local, state and federal level — give him reason for optimism.

Trade friction with China has been especially worrisome.

“The trade issue is front and center,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we can come to an agreement with China. I’ve been an eternal optimist.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/fresno-county-economic-forecast-international-interest-comes-rolling-in/

A renovation surge is remaking this downtown Fresno street. A historic building is next

 
Big renovation plans for historic Fulton Street building

Plans are underway for a major repurposing project to host a micro brewery, tech office space, among other possibilities, for the 1918 building at 736 Fulton Street. 

A stretch of Fulton Street in downtown Fresno is getting a lot of love lately.

It’s about to get some more.

A brick building estimated to be 101 years old at 736 Fulton St., across the street from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden, has new owners. They are in the process of renovating the building, with plans to rent space out to businesses.

Local developer Reza Assemi and technology entrepreneur Jamin Brazil bought the building last year. It’s in the heart of the Brewery District, near Inyo Street, next door to the Mecca Billiards supply shop with the giant mural featuring pool balls.

They plan to turn the bottom floor into spaces for microbreweries – or perhaps one big brewery – or other entertainment-oriented businesses. The second floor will be turned into offices and other work spaces.

And its basement? Maybe a speakeasy.

The building was once a car dealership and has housed a long list of businesses over the years, ranging from Sun Stereo warehouse to an underwear and polo shirt manufacturer.

It could be ready for new renters as early as five months from now.

FULTON RENEWAL

It joins a snowballing surge of redevelopment on that block. Two doors down, Zack’s Brewing Co. opened a year ago in old garage.

Across the street, the building with the “brewery district” mural painted on the side will soon be home to the Modernist cocktail bar. It plans to open this winter. In the same building, 411 Broadway Ales & Spirits plans to open a beer tasting room.

Next door to that building, on the corner of Fulton and Mono streets, the landlords are working to get the building ready for potential tenants.

Tioga-Sequoia is at times attracting thousands of people for events like Fresno Street Eats food truck nights.

Whoever ends up renting the building that’s being renovated will have a prime view of the action in the beer garden, along with nearby Chukchansi Park, and the growing nightlife scene on Fulton.

The owners hope to blend that nightlife with day uses like offices and perhaps a bodega, a small urban grocery store, Brazil said.

He’s positive about the future of downtown.

“We recognize that downtown is going to have an explosion over the coming five years,” he said. “We believe there’s opportunity to enable small businesses to set their footprint down here and succeed.”

HISTORY

For now, the owners are calling the building The Brewery, though they’re open to suggestions for other names. It’s sometimes called the Sun Stereo warehouse (Warehouse Sound in one old Fresno Bee story) and once had 12 stores in the West when it closed in 1981.

It was once called the Charles Foreman Sales building, after a business that sold Briscoe cars, according documents from 1919 and later.

The new owners were also told it once housed Model T cars, and may have been a distribution hub of sorts. Its 18-foot ceilings are supported by massive cement columns.

“It’s like a tank,” Assemi said of the building.

It has a huge freight elevator – big enough to hold a car – and roll-up garage doors in the back.

There’s a basement with numbers painted on the wall (perhaps labels for car part storage?).

Over the years, the building has housed all sorts of businesses: A used car dealership, Bass-Hunter Paint Co., National Lead Co., Mildred Cole Draperies, an underwear and polo shirt factory, a lithograph business, a carpet and furnishings company, and an office furniture company.

In the early 1940s, the Works Progress Administration sewing project rented the second floor, with 85 women sewing clothing that was distributed through social service agencies, according to city documents.

It’s been empty for 20 years or so, Assemi said.

THE PLANS

Though it was “a mess,” when they got it, Assemi said, the building is all cleared out now, an empty shell with brick walls.

They’ll keep the brick exterior – which is required because the building is on the Local Register of Historic Resources – and clean up all the architectural details out front.

About 26,000 square feet of space is ready to be turned into something new. The owners envision one large commercial space in front on the north end, perhaps a bodega.

Next to it will be a main entrance to the first floor with a courtyard-like front and a lobby with a grand staircase leading to the second floor and elevator.

Assemi envisions some metal crow sculptures in the main courtyard entrance, mimicking the giant hoards of crows that fly around downtown at dusk. He’s installed a similar style of art at his other projects around town like Broadway Studios and Iron Bird Lofts.

The first floor will have a wide corridor leading down the middle with entrances to many small spaces ranging from 450 to 1,200 square feet. That’s where microbreweries or tap rooms, small kitchens or maker spaces could go, Brazil said.

The second floor is now wide open, with lots of wood beams on the ceiling and skylights letting in plenty of light.

They envision offices on the second floor, a concept that’s similar to WeWork, or Workspace in Fresno’s Pacific Southwest Building. They will have space for individuals or companies that’s ready to move into, with internet, desks, meeting rooms and a cleaning service.

Brazil’s firm will move there too. He’s is the founder of the eight-person HubUX, a research operations software firm, and met Assemi when they were neighbors.

Brazil is also the co-founder and CEO of Decipher, a Fresno-based company that wrote survey software for clients — including eBay, PayPal and Whole Foods — that collects and analyzes information. That company has since been sold to New York-based FocusVision.

The Fulton Street building also has a quiet basement insulated from everything above it.

At least part of it will likely be dedicated a podcasting studio. Brazil also runs the Happy Market Research podcast, with 80,000 subscribers.

And yes, maybe that speakeasy.

Potential renters can contact the owners and see more about the plans at www.736Fulton.com.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article237729149.html?

UC Merced is proving to be the boon to the Valley it was predicted to become

BY NATHAN BROSTROM

DECEMBER 06, 2019 06:00 AM

UC Merced Interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom. ELENA ZHUKOVA  SPECIAL TO THE SUN-STAR

Thirty years ago, The Fresno Bee celebrated the long overdue decision to build a University of California campus in the Central Valley. “What a prize,” read the Bee editorial that predicted “thousands of new jobs (and) a boon to the local economy.”

Another decade passed before groundbreaking, and the worst recession since the Great Depression followed. From the start, UC Merced faced challenges that, to some, seemed insurmountable.

What a difference a few years and strong leadership by my predecessor, Dorothy Leland, have made. Today, UC Merced is marking its 14th year — and living up to the Bee’s predictions.

The youngest campus in the nation’s finest public higher research institution, UC Merced — the only U.S. research university built in the 21st century — is already ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 44th best public institution in the country and No. 1 for student outcomes, a ranking that includes creating social mobility for our students, 99.5 percent of whom hail from California.

These are significant achievements, but I am most proud of what they reflect about California, and the Valley in particular.

The Morrill Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln to create “land grant” institutions like the University of California, had three critical goals: to educate citizens from all walks of life, not just the elite; to advance research into cutting-edge economic needs of the day; and to stay closely tied to the regions they serve.

UC Merced adheres to these principles.

We are educating California’s emerging citizenry, many more of whom hail from the Valley.

We are driving the local economy through cutting-edge research in the fields of our day. Breakthroughs in drone technology and smart watering systems will make our agricultural sector more efficient and more profitable; our new Bio Safety 3 Lab will tackle the harmful effects of Valley fever; and our Venture Lab in downtown Merced, partnering with the city and the Small Business Administration, guides aspiring entrepreneurs from idea to marketplace.

And we remain committed to the Valley, working closely with city and county governments, schools, and health and other social service organizations.

After state cuts stalled the initial phase of campus construction, UC Merced created a first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation public-private partnership — Merced 2020 — to double its footprint and provide the laboratories, classrooms, housing and other services needed to expand its education, economic and research impact. UC Merced now employs more than 1,600 full- and part-time employees, with a monthly payroll of more than $16 million. By completion next summer, Merced 2020 will have created 10,000 construction jobs in the Valley and injected $1.9 billion into the regional economy.

Governing magazine recently cited UC Merced as a major reason the Merced metro area experienced the top personal income growth of any region since 2012. And a 2018 academic study affirmed that “the opening of UC Merced has generated positive effects on employment and the wages of workers in Merced” and significantly expanded the local service industry.

The benefits will accrue over generations, as graduates reap the benefits of a UC education. Multiple studies confirm that a worker with a bachelor’s degree earns more than double over her or his lifetime than a worker with only a high school diploma, and is far less likely to experience unemployment during tough times. UC Merced’s high marks for creating social mobility are thus easily explained, given that nearly three-quarters of our undergraduates are the first in their families to go to college.

We know we aren’t doing this alone. Alongside Fresno State, Stanislaus State, CSU Bakersfield, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Fresno City College and Clovis Community College, and many others, we have created a great economic engine in the Valley — second, perhaps, only to our mighty agricultural industry.

Valley agriculture fills the bellies of the world, and Valley higher education is shaping the minds of the next generation. Together we are truly building the future right here in the heart of California — the emerging, new California.

New Director of Medical Education Ready to Unleash Valley’s Untapped Potential

December 2, 2019
Dr. Thelma Hurd joins UC Merced as the Director of Medical Education after years working as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.
Dr. Thelma Hurd joins UC Merced as the Director of Medical Education after working as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.

Dr. Thelma Hurd’s journey in medicine has taken her from New Jersey to Nigeria, with stops in Texas and Buffalo. Along the way, she gathered experience as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.

Her proficiency in these crucial areas has led Hurd to UC Merced, where she became the university’s director of medical education last month.

“It was an opportunity to be part of a new initiative that really resonates with my passion, which is to improve healthcare in rural, high-needs communities and underserved communities,” Hurd said. “The fact that UC Merced is a young university means there is tremendous opportunity to both join ongoing and create new innovative initiatives, and that was incredibly appealing to me.”

After finishing medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — now the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences — Hurd had a desire to be an academic surgical oncologist, allowing her to combine clinical and research approaches to her methods of treatment. Hurd worked in gastrointestinal oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas before transitioning to breast cancer at the Breast Surgery Department at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

She said her interest in examining health at a population perspective came from an encounter with a family at Roswell Park with whom she discussed treatment options.

Despite giving the family materials to review about the treatment in preparation for the treatment discussion, Hurd said the family told her, in unison, “whatever you say to do is just fine.” It was in that moment she realized there was a need to address community knowledge and advocacy.

If there was a need to solidify this new outlook on health, Hurd found it in Nigeria. As a member of the Center for Research on Minority Health team at MD Anderson that worked with the Nigerian government to develop a comprehensive cancer control, she began to consider how to deliver care in low- to moderate-resource environments.

“Need, disparities, inequity and rural healthcare issues and challenges don’t have geographic borders. They affect both high and low resource countries,” Hurd said. “If we can develop systems to address healthcare challenges in rural and less-resourced communities, it will be a critical step in bringing healthcare equity to the U.S.”

The experience in Nigeria also opened Hurd’s eyes to how to perceive healthcare crises in rural and high-needs communities that are often tagged as “medical deserts.”

“Nigeria taught me to stop looking at how empty the glass is and to start looking at how full the bottom portion of the glass is, and that is how I look at the San Joaquin Valley,” Hurd said. “I’m not looking at what it doesn’t have, I’m looking at everything it has that hasn’t been tapped or leveraged. You have community cohesiveness — people actually care about one another here and want to improve community health. People interact at a very different level than you see in highly urbanized areas and the Valley has resources. When you have those elements, you can pretty much do anything.”

“Need, disparities, inequity and rural healthcare issues and challenges don’t have geographic borders. They affect both high and low resource countries. If we can develop systems to address healthcare challenges in rural and less-resourced communities, it will be a critical step in bringing healthcare equity to the U.S.”

Thelma Hurd
Director of Medical Education, UC Merced

For the past four years, Hurd has served on the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District’s Health Science Academy Executive Board and worked with teachers as they tailored their curricula to best serve their students’ science education needs. The Tulare County school district is home to a medical education pilot program for UC Merced, and the opportunity to work with the future leaders in medicine in the San Joaquin Valley showed Hurd that addressing the medical disadvantages of the region can be found within.

“There is a tremendous amount of untapped intellectual capital within our students and they simply need to be in an environment that will help them to develop it,” Hurd said. “Our job as medical educators is to provide the educational and experiential opportunities so that they are able to go further than they’ve ever dreamed possible and go beyond what they perceive as limits.”

She said while medical education is thought of as just preparing students for medical school, it plays a major role in producing vital medical professionals in nursing, dentistry and allied health, as well.

“Medical education at UC Merced provides the opportunity to work with people here to not only build a healthcare workforce but to build a workforce that can integrate rural and urban approaches to addressing health and disease,” Hurd said. “Those students who are now in high school or are undergraduates are the future of healthcare and of health in this country.”

UC Merced Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg Camfield said bringing in Hurd — who is a nine-time recipient of the Best Doctors in America designation — is critical to continuing to build the foundation of medical education at UC Merced and in the Valley, one of the most medically underserved areas in the nation.

“She brings a wealth of experience and impressive skills to this very important position on our campus,” Camfield said. “From leading our efforts to further develop programs and initiatives in medical education to continuing her research in health disparities, Dr. Hurd will bring great value to the campus and the community. I very much look forward to working with her.”

Hurd said she is a strong believer in taking time to get to know the community and is looking forward to tapping into the potential of San Joaquin Valley students.

“There are a lot of innovative thinkers here and the university is a crucible for innovative thought. It draws people who think and dwell outside of the box,” Hurd said. “The UC Merced family is one team and together with our communities as full partners, we will be able to change the face of health care and improve population health.”

https://news.ucmerced.edu/news/2019/new-medical-director-ready-unleash-valley%E2%80%99s-untapped-potential

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
Written By 

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.

Stan State a Top-10 University Nationally for Social Mobility

November 22, 2019

For a sixth consecutive year, Stan State’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the lives of its students has been recognized by CollegeNET, which has ranked the University No. 8 in the nation on its Social Mobility Index (SMI).

Stan State joins Cal Poly Pomona, Fresno State and Cal State Long Beach – all members of the California State University system – as the only colleges to be ranked in the top 20 in each of the six years the ranking has been produced. This year’s ranking represents an improvement of 11 positions for Stan State, which had been ranked No. 19 in both 2017 and 2018.

Baruch College, part of the City University of New York system, repeated as the top-ranked University in this report, but CSU campuses dominated the top tier, grabbing seven of the top 10 and 15 of the top 25 positions.

CollegeNET is a provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education. Colleges that emphasize and develop academic support programs to help low-income students obtain college degrees and good-paying jobs consistently rank high in the SMI.

This recognition follows a series of honors for Stan State in national publications. In the past three months, U.S. News & World Report named Stan State among the national leaders in seven different categories, and Washington Monthly named Stan State the No. 1 “Bang for the Buck” public college in the West Region, also ranking the University 13th in the nation for the quality of its master’s programs and No. 87 in the nation for the way it serves adult learners.

Earlier in August, in its hallmark “Best Colleges for the Money” category, MONEY magazine ranked Stan State No. 5 among the nation’s “Most Transformative Schools.” Also, for the 14th consecutive year, Stanislaus State was selected as one of the country’s top 385 colleges by The Princeton Review.