(Dec. 2) ORANGE COVE, Calif. — David Roth, president of Cecelia Packing Corp., was losing his voice after repeatedly sharing his excitement with a slew of industry associates Nov. 21 during the showcase of the operation’s 27,000-square-foot expansion.
Roth took visitors on tours of the upgraded and high-tech facility that now measures 55,000 square feet, explaining in detail the abilities of modern machines that filled the new space.
Before the expansion Cecelia’s space curbed its ability to increase packing operations because “there wasn’t any place to put it,” Roth said. He said that doubling shifts would only result in packed fruit without a place to store it.
Cecelia maintained operations through most of the expansion. The project began in October 2002, and the operation shut down with the end of the season in mid-June.. Walls were then torn down to place the giant blue and yellow machinery.
More than 100 loads of cement and a year later, Cecelia doubled its size.
“It was a shoebox compared to this,” said Roth of the structure’s former size.
Cecelia Packing isn’t the only packinghouse in the area to upgrade its operations. Orange Cove is booming with modernization projects in the citrus arena.
Part of this trend is tied to its designation as a renewal community, a federal program that offers tax benefits and incentives to businesses that move or improve their operations in Orange Cove.
Upgrades are crucial because of the increased competition and demands to tailor pack for buyers.
“Many packinghouses are modernizing to improve efficiency,” said Jim Gordon, Orange Cove renewal community manager. “The renewal community includes tax benefits that encourage businesses to expand or upgrade.”
The renewal designation offers 50% depreciation benefits, said Robert Martindale, vice president and chief financial officer of Cecelia.