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Member Spotlight: Mann Packing Keeps Innovating
Who says you can’t play with your food? MBEP member Mann Packing has built its reputation on doing just that, transforming vegetables into tantalizing, tasty fun, and in the process finding ways to get consumers to enjoy eating what’s good for them. Its “Mann, That’s Easy!” blog educates and entertains, while on social media, the company offers mouthwatering recipes that inspire us to get cooking. Even before the company created Sweet Potato “Fettuccini” and Cauliflower “Rice,” its Broccoli Wokly, Stringless Sugar Snap Peas and Broccoli Cole Slaw were taking the prep work out of the equation, reinventing how we use vegetables and making healthful snacking fun.
Mann Packing’s popular Nourish Bowls® was a first-of-its-kind product, and the line has continued to evolve. “We introduced those back in 2016 in four flavors,” says Loree Dowse, director of Creative Marketing. “We actually like to say we created the warm vegetable meal segment in the produce department.” Two flavors of Nourish Bowls Breakfast, microwavable meals that create high-protein breakfasts with the addition of eggs, were introduced in January.
The company’s newest sensation is a sweet, long-stemmed beauty that can be grown year-round in the Salinas Valley. Two years in the making, CAULILINI® baby cauliflower, as it’s known, is already making a splash among professional chefs for its mild taste, blonde, open florets and stems that turn bright green when cooked. CAULILINI® baby cauliflower has just been named Best New Product by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. Hundreds of news outlets have reported on the product in recent weeks, and the company’s phones are ringing off the hook with consumers wanting to know where to find it, says Dowse. The product will roll out to consumers in partnership with a major retailer in the coming months.
Behind all that creativity is a business making a difference in other ways as well. Mann Packing employs close to 600 people in Monterey County and had about $580 million in sales last year. It’s currently hiring for jobs at its state-of-the-art processing facility in Gonzales. As many as 200 new jobs could be created as a result of the new 130,00-square-foot facility. Shipping operations begin this month, and processing will begin there later this year.
Mann Packing is also dedicated to minimizing its environmental footprint: A 260-foot-tall wind turbine at the new Gonzales facility will provide 50-75 percent of the plant’s power during peak wind times, generating the equivalent power offset of 349 U.S. homes and an estimated energy savings of $120,000-$210,000. Those offsets are equivalent to CO2 emissions from 371,672 gallons of gasoline burned, more than 3.5 million pounds of coal burned, or a year’s worth of energy use for 349 homes.
The third-generation family company was founded in 1939 and purchased by Del Monte Fresh Produce for $361 million last year.
Member Spotlight: Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to our newest MBEP member, the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to building economic vitality. The chamber officially celebrated its centennial in 2018, but its roots may date back to as early as 1904, says chamber CEO Paul Farmer. Since assuming that role since 2012, he’s overseen a 40 percent increase in the chamber’s revenue and membership, now comprised of more than 700 active members.
The Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce is riding the forefront of change, as chambers of commerce shift away from being primarily a source of information, community promoter and host of special events and ribbon-cuttings. That, says Farmer, is yesterday’s chamber. “Today’s successful chamber is a convener, catalyst and champion,” says Farmer. “As a convener, we bring together people who can solve challenges. As a catalyst, we help foment solutions. As a champion, we enlist support from residents, businesspeople and elected officials to bring about the success we have helped envision.”
For its efforts, the Salinas Valley Chamber has been honored by the Western Association of Chamber Executives two out of the past three years. The award, for visionary work leading communities, is presented to only five out of 850 members.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, the chamber hosted its biggest event of the year, as it honored exemplary individuals and businesses at its 98th annual Awards The luncheon was sponsored by Rabobank, at Sherwood Hall. Each of this year’s honorees help make for a more vibrant community. Says Farmer, “We like to say our Awards Luncheon is the one annual event we hold where ‘everybody comes because everybody goes.” Learn more.
To view more member stories, visit our Member Spotlight page.
Member Spotlight: Santa Cruz County Bank Celebrates 15 Years
Happy anniversary to Santa Cruz County Bank, which marked its 15th anniversary in a particularly sweet way: Celebrating its customers at its five banking offices last week and giving out free cookies and coffee. It’s just one of the many ways the locally owned and operated bank celebrates its role as a true community partner. Last year, employees donated more than 600 hours to community service, and branches support a different nonprofit each month. It’s a philosophy that was built into the bank’s inception in 2004, and that commitment has remained through the years and throughout the financial institution’s expansion.
“We wanted the community to be in the bank, not just another bank on the corner someplace,” Santa Cruz County Bank’s CEO David Heald told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “Our engagement within the community was important, if not as important as the overall financial performance of the bank.”
That overall financial performance is worth celebrating as well. With assets of $662 million in 2018 and eight successive years of record earnings, Santa Cruz County Bank is playing a major role in regional economic growth. Last year alone, the bank made $200 million in loans and it’s a top SBA lender in Santa Cruz County and the Silicon Valley.
“What we do every day supports the growth of the community,” says Santa Cruz County Bank Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Mary Anne Carson. “Our whole business structure is built to support our customer’s needs, and that in turn supports the community’s needs.” Read more.
Member Spotlight: Northern California Carpenter's Regional Council
Welcome to our latest member: The Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, which is dedicated to improving the California building and construction trades industry, working conditions and the standard of living for workers, and building partnerships with employers, contractors and subcontractors by providing stability through a motivated, skilled workforce.
Last year’s massive bridge repair projects in Big Sur and California State University, Monterey Bay’s Student Union and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences buildings currently under construction are among the high-profile projects employing significant numbers of union carpenters, but whether they’re creating concrete formwork for bridges, building wood framing, erecting scaffolding or installing drywall, those members are an integral part of the Monterey Bay region.
Many of those skilled union carpenters are also residents here, challenged to afford housing even as some of their fellow union members help build affordable housing for others. So the issues of livable wages, good medical and retirement benefits are vitally important to the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, says Sean Hebard, Senior Field Representative for Carpenters Local 505/605. “Affordable housing is a big one, from our perspective,” says Hebard. “We need to make sure we address the demand side as well as the supply side.”
MBEP is invested in employment opportunities for our youth, and we are excited to partner with the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. Strong training programs are helping build a skilled workforce for a rapidly evolving industry where technology is playing an increasingly larger role: There’s a waitlist for the union’s various four-year apprenticeship programs, the largest of which is general carpentry, and an outreach program to high schools in the in tri-county region makes young people aware of opportunities across the construction trades. A six-week carpentry pre-apprenticeship for recent high school grads teaches soft skills, safety basics and financial literacy and has dramatically cut attrition rates for those who later enter the carpentry apprenticeship program. And a helmets-to-hardhats program ensures that military veterans are eligible for apprenticeship opportunities.
“Affordable housing and market rate housing needs to get built, and roads and highways need to get built,” says Hebard. “Our members do all those things.”
Pictured, third-period apprentice Anders Chippindale, Local 217, and carpenter foreman Steven White, Local 217, set a frame at CSU Monterey Bay student union building. Photo courtesy of The Northern Caifornia Carpenters Regional Council.
Member Spotlight: S. Martinelli & Co.
Building Upon a Legacy, Martinelli’s Looks Toward the Future
The bright flavors of perfectly ripened apples – pressed into cider, distinctive apple-shaped juice bottles or celebration-ready sparkling ciders – are at the core of one of the Monterey Bay region’s most historic businesses. S. Martinelli & Co., a family-owned and -operated company and an MBEP member, is still based in Watsonville, the town in which it was founded more than 150 years ago.
Martinelli’s marked its sesquicentennial last year in a big way, rolling out a commemorative book and restoring a 1932 Ford Model B truck once used for company deliveries, reintroducing it for Watsonville’s Fourth of July parade, the Wharf to Wharf Race in Capitola and other events. And in a nod to its roots, the company debuted a hard cider, which was Martinelli’s original product in a pre-Prohibition era.
Behind all those years is a history of constant reinvention, says company President/CFO Gun Ruder: “We need to continuously improve and advance, but there’s no sense that we can rest on our laurels.”
That’s why working as an active MBEP partner on big regional issues is so important. “For us as a manufacturing company, having a workforce that’s educated and has the skillset to work in a more technologically advanced plant than we’ve ever had before is critical, and having those workers sustain a livelihood in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties is tough,” says Ruder. “These are all big issues for us, and we want to make sure we have a voice in the solution and add our perspective to help drive solutions for the region broadly.”
So while the company, which now sells its products in 44 countries, was publicly celebrating its milestone anniversary with an appearance on the “Megyn Kelly Today” show, it was also upgrading its infrastructure and investing in its own future: replacing a 30-year-old enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with new cutting-edge business process management software and going live with a new filtration system, the first of a three-phase modernization project that will soon bring two new high-speed production lines to the company’s West Beach facility.
For S. Martinelli & Co., 150 years are just the beginning. “We’re proud of where we’ve been,” says Ruder. “We’re in Watsonville for the long haul.”
Pictured from left, S. Martinelli & Co. President/CFO Gun Ruder and CEO John Martinelli. Photo courtesy of S. Martinelli & Co.