Corenco Inc. buys Santa Rosa building, sees growing business

[caption id="attachment_23307" align="alignleft" width="332" caption="Chris Cory shows Corenco processing equipment at a trade show"][/caption]

SEBASTOPOL – A long-time family-owned business in Sonoma County has jumped on opportunities offered by the soft real estate market and new SBA incentives to purchase its own building in Santa Rosa.

Corenco Inc., a six-employee maker of milling and grinding equipment for the food industry, is ready to expand in its new location on Dutton Avenue, said owner and President Chris Cory.

"There was a confluence of events and plenty of local help and encouragement that helped us make the decision and accomplish what I hope it the first stage of major growth," said Mr. Cory.

His business, purchased from his father in 1991, had grown steadily and found new markets for its products: grinders and millers used by Kraft, Heinz and local food producers like Amy's Kitchen, Mezzetta, Manzana Products and Apple-A-Day.

"When we added new products to my father's original line of soy and apple milling equipment, we expanded our markets. Not too many people do what we do; most of the competition has fallen away or been absorbed," he said.

Corenco buys its steel from Capital Metals and electrical motors from EEC in Petaluma. Manufacturing is done on site.

Corenco's leased quarters in Sebastopol, less than half the size of its new location, were growing cramped, so a move was in order.

The favorable commercial real estate market for buyers allowed Mr. Cory and his wife, Siraj, to purchase a 12,000-square-foot building for about $1.1 million. Mike Flintner of Keegan & Coppin found the building and arranged the sale.

New incentives from the SBA such as fee waivers made a loan doable. Lender Wells Fargo Bank even allowed the Corys to retain their accounts with First Community Bank. The loan was guaranteed by Capital Access Group in San Francisco.

"Without SBA and Wells Fargo and Capital Access we never could have done it," said Mr. Cory. "Tracy Sheppard at Wells was especially helpful."

Corenco has about 300 customers and its revenues have grown to just over $1 million.

"I think our steady growth can be attributed to a number of factors," he said. "First, our new products are maturing and our new customers are now purchasing our original products.

"Also, we've gotten better at targeting specific market sectors. Potatoes, for example, require lots of milling, so we've made ourselves known to companies like Washington Potato, which makes flakes and flour. We also supply Frito Lay in China."

A third factor, he said, was a willingness to partner with complementary companies for special projects.

"Blentech in Santa Rosa is a good example. They mix, we mill. We integrated our product with theirs and they market it, a perfect solution."

Once Corenco has completed some electrical upgrades to the new building – "It's got to be perfect before we start moving 50 tons of equipment around" – the company will move in, probably this fall. Then Mr. Cory intends to add more staff.

"We're also thinking about strategic acquisitions. There are lots of undervalued companies out there that are struggling with the economy. This is a good time for small company like ours to show some dramatic growth," he said.