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Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program

EMP heads to the Westside


On Friday, students of the Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program (EMP) enjoyed an all-day field trip to businesses on the Westside of Fresno County. 

Our first stop on the field trip was to Manufacturing Engineering Company (MEC) in Kerman, California. When we arrived the Vice President of Engineering, Gary Crook, welcomed us and gave us a tour of the factory. Manufacturing Engineering Company builds aerial work platforms for use in the construction industry. Gary shared the hard times that MEC went through during the recession of 2008, saying “through the rough times of the recession, we continued to innovate and build.”

After MEC we went to Bar 20 Dairy Farms, a 3rd generation family owned dairy with over 6000 acres of diversified farmland with about 120 employees. Bar 20 has a top of the line milking facility with technology that makes them as efficient as possible. Operations Manager Steve Shehadey said “being diverse and efficient was the key to getting through the recession.” Educating the public and making them aware of the environmental challenges affecting dairymen and farmers is important to the future of agriculture in the Valley.

Our third and most delicious stop was to the Harris Ranch restaurant and feed lot. We enjoyed a delicious tri-tip lunch and a presentation on the history of Harris Ranch given to us by Cain Madrigal. Harris Ranch is a family-owned business currently owned by John Harris. Harris Ranch feedlot is the largest feedlot in the western United States with about 95,000 cows on 600 acres of land located off interstate 5.  Harris Ranch is a diversified agribusiness company that has almond, silage, and many other operations. Cain believes that the next wave of innovation in the beef industry will come through more technology on the individual animal.

Finally, we went to Harris Woolf California almond processor in Coalinga, California which was my personal favorite business since my family are almond growers here in the Valley. We were given a tour by members of their sales team Justin Morehead who does grower sales and purchasing, which is exactly what I want to do as a career. We saw the operation from when the almonds arrive to when it is packaged and ready to be shipped out.

We would like to thank Ed O’Neil for setting up the Westside field trip for us. We would also like to thank Bar 20 Dairy Farms, Harris Ranch, Harris Woolf and Manufacturing Engineering Company for taking the time out of their busy schedules to show us their operations. Thank you as well to their teams and employees who are behind the scenes. We wish you all the best.