RIPON -- Diamond Pet Foods is in full production mode at its newest manufacturing plant just west of Highway 99, which also has created about 75 jobs.
The plant on South Stockton Avenue is the company's fourth facility and its second in San Joaquin County. The Ripon facility is about 15 miles south of the company's Lathrop site, which Diamond Pet Foods has operated since 1998.
The company produces food for dogs and cats under its own label; it is sold at pet stores and food and farm supply stores. Diamond Pet Foods also produces dog and cat food for other pet food labels.
Diamond Pet Foods expanded its production to serve growing customer demand along the West Coast, so the company recognized the need for another facility in California.
Company officials worked for a few years to find an existing facility that met their needs, said Mark Schell, vice president of manufacturing.
"Identifying the Ripon building allowed us to gain efficiencies from both plants, not only from a proximity standpoint, but also through more sustainable production methods," Schell said.
The closeness of the two plants will allow the company to alternate production at them as needed and use one management team to oversee both facilities. Employees already have been hired to work at the Ripon plant in manufacturing, quality control, administration and maintenance.
The plant formerly housed the Neenah Paper Inc. mill. After buying the property in 2010, Diamond Pet Foods renovated the facility and constructed additional buildings, including a mill tower for storage of pet food ingredients.
Renovation took about 20 months, and more than 200 local laborers were on site at the peak of construction. The Ripon plant is the company's first facility to incorporate energy-saving technology.
The plant covers about 150 acres, which is the largest of the Diamond Pet Foods facilities. The site's size allowed the installation of an on-site solar farm and solar panels on the building that provide 20 percent of the facility's power.
Also, LED light fixtures were installed throughout the facility that allow it to use at least 50 percent less energy compared with other lighting options. Diamond Pet Foods is looking into incorporating energy-saving technology at its three other facilities.
"We're a close-knit community, and as a family-owned and -operated business, Diamond Pet Foods is a great fit for Ripon," said Ken Zuidervaart, Ripon's planning director. "It's great to see their commitment to the community, from the investments they made in the facility to providing jobs for the people of Ripon."
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.