Blue Diamond Growers held their groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year in April at the new Turlock plant, located at Washington and Fulkerth Roads. Now, only 7 months later, the billion-dollar co-op is moving forward quickly with the Phase 1 building process.
The new Turlock location, part of the Phase 1 of the three-phased, 15-year project, is scheduled to commence operation in May 2013. The 88-acre property will be added to Blue Diamond’s existing facilities that are located in both Sacramento and Salida.
At a Media Conference held at the new Blue Diamond Growers facility, CEO/President Mark Jansen stated that after scouring the Central Valley, from Chico to Fresno, the City of Turlock was chosen as the ideal location for the new facility.
“Three out of the six sites that we were looking at would have taken 3-5 years to build on,” stated Jansen. He also stated that because the City of Turlock had the Turlock Regional Industrial Park ready to be built on, the choice was clear.
“It’s only been 7 months since our groundbreaking ceremony, and we already have the shell of the building done, and we’re receiving equipment,” stated Jansen.
Blue Diamond Chairman of the Board, Clinton Shick, spoke of the new Turlock facility at the 2012 Annual Meeting held at the Modesto Convention Center on Wednesday, November 14th.
“An exciting time is coming to life before our eyes,” stated Shick in regards to the new Turlock facility. “We are making excellent progress on both the schedule and budget.”
While Blue Diamond Growers has not disclosed the actual amount for the project, Shick stated that it was the “largest expenditure in the history of the company.”
“Under-investing can be just as costly as over-investing,” stated Shick.
Blue Diamond Growers is expecting to make more than 100 new hires for the new Turlock facility. Ten out of the eleven managerial positions have been filled, however, production employees are still needed.
“We hope to have the hiring process done by February 1, 2013,” stated Turlock Plant Manager Ulli Thiersch. He also stated that majority of the new jobs would be local hires. The 100 plus plant positions fall into two categories for the Turlock facility: electromechanical positions, and control and operations positions. Electromechanical positions are responsible for the facilities maintenance, while the control and operational positions are responsible for the packaging and processing.
The Turlock facility, however, will not require as much manual labor as other facilities, as the company is making use of new state-of-the-art machinery.
“We’re getting out of the manual hard labor. People won’t be stacking boxes anymore – that is automated,” stated General Manager of Industrial Operations Bruce Lish. “These aren’t the picking up and carrying boxes jobs people once did in manufacturing.”
The production team will be assembled from a high level of technically proficient people in food processing with the assistance of the Stanislaus Economic Development & Workforce Alliance.
Phase 2 and Phase 3 will add an estimated 300,000 square feet to the existing 200,000 square foot building, bringing the ultimate size of the facility to 500,000 square feet by the completion of the three phases. The estimated number of employees needed for the later phases is not yet determined.
Applications will be accepted online via www.bluediamond.com.