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Ground was broken Oct. 7 on a processing plant and cold storage facility that is a joint venture by two prominent Santa Maria, CA-based grower-shippers.

Gold Coast Packing Inc. and Babe Farms are partners in the building, which both companies will share when

Participating in the groundbreaking of the new processing and cold-storage facility in Santa Maria were John Schaefer, general manager of Gold Coast Packing; Bob Espinola, corporate secretary of Gold Coast; Ron Burk, CEO of Gold Coast; Mark LeClaire, controller of Gold Coast; Judy Lundberg, CEO of Babe Farms; and Jeff Lundberg, general manager of Babe Farms.
the 100,000 square foot project opens next fall.

 

Ron Burk and Judy Lundberg, chief executive officers of Gold Coast Packing and Babe Farms, respectively, were both on hand for the ceremonies that took place on a six-acre parcel where the construction will occur.

Plans call for a two-phase building program that will ultimately encompass 8,000 feet of office space and 80,000 feet dedicated to cold storage and processing, with the balance to be used for lab rooms and employee facilities. The building will also feature a nine-bay loading dock for shipping.

Approximately 150 personnel will operate the plant over two shifts per day during a six-day work week. Gold Coast Packing has a primary product line of broccoli florets, cauliflower, cilantro, spinach and specialty packs that are sold in the foodservice market segment. Babe Farms is a grower-processor and shipper of specialty salads and baby vegetables to foodservice and retail. Both offer year-round supply.

The two companies have operated in the fertile Santa Maria Valley on California's central coast for more than two decades; and have had many business relationships during that time. Currently, Babe Farms is one of the growers for Gold Coast.

"This building will provide economies of operation that will not only benefit us, but our customers as well," Mr. Burk said in an Oct. 7 press release. "We feel there will be a synergy of activity that will provide efficiencies for both companies."

Ms. Lundberg noted in the press release, "We anticipate that we can both increase our production volume by 50 percent as well as improve turnaround time from the field to our customers' warehouse. This is the ideal for those of us promoting the benefits of fresh produce."

The project marks the first new processing and cold-storage facility in the valley in 15 years. It's a positive turn for the industry in general and the Santa Maria area in particular as the partners anticipate hiring of an additional 25 to 50 workers when the plant opens in October 2012.