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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, December 3, 2012, 7:00 am

KriStar adds third production plant

Need for Caltrans-certified plant drives Windsor expansion

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    WINDSOR — KriStar Enterprises first realized it needed a third production plant a year ago when it landed a huge rush order to install a newly designed and bulky system to collect and clean rainwater flowing off the expansive parking lots of the forthcoming 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, and now the Santa Rosa-based company is rushing to get a plant in Windsor on line by early next year to supply a large Caltrans contract.

    KriStar Bio-Mod bioretention system is installed 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.

    KriStar custom-designed, made and delivered 2,500 lineal feet of its Bio-Mod bioretention stormwater filtration modules in just two months for the 10,000-space parking lot at the 49ers stadium under construction in Santa Clara. (photo credit: Joel Moses Photo & Video)

    KriStar (707-524-8181, kristar.com) for two decades has been making erosion- and stormwater-management products such as fiber rolls to keep dirt out of drains and more recently modular underground cisterns for retaining rainwater on site. In mid-November, the company leased 24,000 square feet of building space and three acres of yard at the former Standard Structures plant, now a multitenant complex called Standard Industrial.

    This adds to the existing KriStar precast-concrete systems plant in southwest Santa Rosa and a plant east of Petaluma that makes up to 9 million lineal feet of rice straw fiber rolls, plus burlap bags to catch mud and other woven products.

    “We want a facility that is certified by Caltrans to supply structural concrete products,” said Doug Allard, chief executive officer.

    Section 51 of California Department of Transportation’s standard specifications spell out what the agency expects from makers of structural Portland cement concrete structures such as bridges, approach slabs and culverts.

    Addressing the latter are KriStar’s products that receive rainwater runoff, clean it from petroleum or other contaminants via filters or carefully selected soil and plants, and retain as much of the stormwater on site as possible. That’s an emerging regulatory requirement for construction, intended to mimic the percolation of rainwater into the soil before the project, a principal called low-impact development. 

    Caltrans has for the first time specified a proprietary stormwater retention system for the ongoing Highway 4 expansion project near Antioch and wants to buy KriStar’s Mono-Cube underground stormwater retention system. It is a hollow precast concrete cube that can be combined with others, end caps and piping to form a cistern to store the water. To fill this order and vie for a piece of other Caltrans contracts with such structural elements, KriStar needs to be Section 51-certified.

    Beside having yard space to lay out fabricated modules as the expansive systems would be installed, KriStar had lacked a dedicated quality control and assurance specialist needed under Section 51. Last week, the company hired as QC/QA manager Harry Mills, who was safety director at North Bay Construction for 10 years before the Petaluma company merged with Ghilotti Construction last year.

    KriStar EnterprisesKriStar is hiring a production foreman and staff for the initial five or six other positions at the Windsor plant, which is set to be going into test production by January in time for the first Highway 4 modules to go into production in February. The new plant is able to get into production so quickly because Northgate Ready Mix, also located at Standard Industrial, will be supplying the concrete and recycling unused and production waste concrete.

    KriStar’s Windsor plant could employ up to 20 at full production. The company currently has 70 on staff in Sonoma County and 100 total, including an engineering and sales office in Atlanta and offices in San Juan Capistrano and Dublin for maintenance of stormwater catchment systems such as cleaning debris and changing filters. A new maintenance location is set to open in the Washington’s Tacoma metropolitan area.

    “It is one of the most proactive states in the union in enforcing stormwater filtration,” Mr. Allard said about Washington. Two years ago, the state certified KriStar’s The Perk Filter after five years of analysis.

    Sales have been growing at around 20 percent a year for the past five years and are conservatively expected to grow another 10 percent to 15 percent next year.

    “The most recent surge in sales have come from new technologies we’ve developed and wider national enforcement of stormwater regulations,” Mr. Allard said.

    East Coast sales typically are produced by contract manufacturers. The Santa Rosa plant in 2010 did manufacture and ship 111 4-foot-by-8-foot TreePod concrete modules, which use tree roots and soil to filter stormwater, to College Park, Ga.

    Barry Palma and Preston Smith of Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank represented Standard Industrial owner Shiloh Oaks Co. LLC in lease to KriStar.

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