The City of Vernon is the smallest among the cities of Los Angeles County when ranked by geographic area or population. The city’s economic impact, however, is far larger than one might expect. Indeed, as one of Los Angeles County’s “industrial cities” – along with the Cities of Commerce and Industry – Vernon is a vital economic center.
Given its industrial profile, Vernon plays its biggest role in the Food Manufacturing area. Vernon-based food product companies employ almost 10,700 workers, more than 15% of the Los Angeles County total for this group. Vernon also plays an important role in the region’s Fashion–Apparel and Textile Design/Manufacturing/ Wholesale industry cluster, with more than 11,200 employees or 10.66% of the L.A. County total.
Other regional industry clusters in which Vernon plays a large role include Furniture and Home Furnishings (with an employment share of 5.53%), Fabricated Metal Products and Industrial Machinery (with 3.4%), Toys (with 2.4%), Auto Parts (also 2.4%), and Wholesale Trade and Logistics (with nearly 2%).
Vernon, due to its historic role as a meat packing center, has long been home to a variety of animal waste processing and rendering industries. Rendering, for those who don’t know, is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, value-added materials such as lard, tallow or bone meal. Rendering can refer to any processing of animal byproducts into more useful materials, or more narrowly to the rendering of whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats.
Sources: City of Vernon, California Employment Development Department (QCEW data series), LAEDC.
Real Mex Foods supplies more than 200 restaurants as the distribution branch of Real Mex Restaurants, Cypress, Calif., including Chevy’s, El Torito and Acapulco restaurant concepts located in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. In addition, Real Mex Foods has branched into broader frozen foods processing for foodservice, co-pack and retail channels serving clients such as Sysco Distributors, El Pollo Loco, Carl’s Jr.-Green Burrito, Albertson’s and U.S. Foods.
In February, Real Mex closed its 32,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and moved into a 100,000-square-foot space in Vernon, California. The city of Vernon and a developer came to us and proposed a deal where we got a 100,000-square-foot building retrofitted to a state-of-the-art USDA manufacturing plant, Angulo explains. It was an opportunistic deal. They got us into 100,000 square feet at the cost that we would have gotten a build-to-suit 65,000-square-foot building.
Food safety also was a major priority for Real Mex in building out the new plant. The company built an in-house lab and hired a complete quality assurance team. Other food safety precautions include a triple boiler system, floor foamers, centralized sanitation system, in-house chlorination system for vegetables and a full quality assurance staff.
The developer invested $10 million in the build out, while Real Mex spent about $4 million on equipment. The completely refurbished plant quadrupled the company’s previous capacity and allowed it to more than double the number of kettles, tumble chillers and blast freezers. www.realmexfoods.com
The following Southern California companies made the Refrigerated & Frozen Foods magazine list of 150 top food processors: Overhill Farms, Inc.; Golden State Foods, Meat Products Group; Ready Pac Produce Inc.; SunOpta Fruit Group; and Frozsun Foods Inc.
A 16,570 square foot building was leased to a company that prepares school lunches. The building was located at Alameda and 21st Street, and was formerly occupied by a seafood processing and packaging company which focused on shrimp products. Included in the long term lease was 2 cooler boxes, a 22 foot high freezer, and a large food processing room with washable walls and floor drains. The prior tenant relocated to a seafood building in the South Bay that was approximately 12,000 square feet in size. One broker coordinated the simultaneous transactions and the entire deal spaned several months.
An 18,000 square foot warehouse was leased to a Downtown Los Angeles produce company on Industrial Street. The building included an unusually high number of dock high loading positions for an older building: eleven. The produce company was attracted to the building for its proximity to the produce market ,the fact the building had 3 refrigerated coolers, and there was sufficient yard space to accomodate large 53 foot container trucks.
The following food buildings are available for occupancy lease and/or sale:
- Marengo St- Cooler and freezer with dock high loading for a 10,000 SF facility. Forlease.
- Main St- USDA food processing facility built in 1999 with 5000 SF freezer, 2500 SF cooler and 5000 SF processing room in 26,000 SF of improvements. Great for poultry, beef, seafood processors.
- Anderson St- 11,000 SF building with freezers, coolers and truck high loading.
- Industrial St- 23,000 SF building with 6000 SF freezer and 1200 SF cooler and 7 dock high spots.
- 6th St- 23,000 SF concrete building with 3000 SF cooler and 1100 SF freezer, 16 truck high positions and 22 foot clear.
- Alameda St- 15000 SF building with 8000 SF cooler and 4 dock high spots. Great location for produce distribution.
- Alameda St- 16000 SF building with 4000 SF of coolers and freezers and processing room. 3 truck high spots.
- Spring St- U.S.D.A. federal inspection facility for poultry and meat processing with coolers and freezers. 17000 SF building.
- Triangle Dr- 23000 SF building, former commercial bakery with coolers, freezer and processing rooms.
Contessa Premium Foods offered a VIP sneak peek of its Green Cuisine Plant, the world’s first and largest environmentally responsible, LEED-certified frozen food manufacturing plant. The City of Commerce will rename the street where the plant is “Contessa Drive.”This is the first time the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification to a frozen-food manufacturing facility. The LEED rating system is the national standard for design, construction, and operation of green buildings. It recognizes five areas of environmental and human health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and selection of materials. Located in Los Angeles CA, the new plant is a 4 million-cubic-foot facility, costing more than $35 million, that will produce up to 150 million pounds of product the first year alone. The facility, its processes, and the product manufactured there will be known as Green Cuisine.