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Sonoma County Meat Co. plans Santa Rosa expansion as demand grows

A Santa Rosa meat processor wants to make a bigger impact on the local industry and have less of an impact on the environment.

That is what’s behind the purchase early this month of a 30,000-square-foot light-industrial building in southwest Santa Rosa by affiliates of Sonoma County Meat Company.

Dobre Kishke LLC and the Alexander family purchased 250 Dutton Ave. for $5.3 million on Feb. 3, according to public records. Restaurant chain Cattlemens Inc., the property seller, currently has its corporate headquarters in the front portion of the building.

Detailed planning has just begun, but Sonoma County Meat founders Rian and Jenine Rinn said they want to pursue a net zero emissions meat processing facility there. The new facility would be operated in addition to the 4,000-square-foot processing plant and store at 35 Sebastopol Ave., where the Rinns started the business eight years ago as a two-person venture.

“We see the potential at this facility is allowing us to maximize our efficiencies and have more sustainable processing capacity,” Jenine Rinn said. “It allows us to go further in decentralizing the meat industry and offering our services to local ranchers.”

The Rinns envision achieving that net emissions goal by installing solar panels — and potentially battery storage, when the price comes down. Also being eyed are replacing the delivery vans with electric equivalents, when more options come on the market. The 250 Dutton facility likely will have charging stations for replenishing the truck batteries as well as electric cars.

While the company awaits the arrival of those trucks, it has moved toward electric truck refrigeration units, rather than diesel. When the vehicles are at the main facility, the have their chiller units plugged in to the facility’s power. When the trucks and vans are on the move, they have additional alternators to power the

Sonoma County Meat is what the industry calls a stage 2 and 3 processor. That means that the company receives carcasses from a stage 1 business, which has government approvals for slaughter. From there, the meat is prepared, under USDA inspection, for sale to its own small counter store at the original property, to wholesale customers such as distributors and retailers, and for online one-off orders and subscription boxes.

The company also offers USDA-inspected cut-and-wrap services for ranchers to sell their own private labels.

Pandemic impacts on staffing at meat processing plants around the country have cut into supplies going to local stores and led to higher prices. That’s made the time right for Sonoma County Meat’s planned expansion, Jenine Rinn said.

“For the first time, local meat has become cheaper than factory farms,” she said. Some think the retail prices for meat are impacting the whole industry. “Actually, the inputs and cost have only increased incrementally for local producers.”

The 250 Dutton building was purchased with the help of a U.S. Small Business Administration 504 program loan.

Stephen Skinner and James Nobles of Keegan & Coppin Co. Inc. represented the buyers of 250 Dutton, and Gil Saydah of Keegan & Coppin represented Cattlemens.

The Rinns are seeking to sublease some of the 250 Dutton warehouse space, with three loading docks, until the permits can be secured for the new facility. They can be contacted about that at 250duttonave@gmail.com.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before the Business Journal, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. He has a degree from Walla Walla University. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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