John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Daniel Evangelista of Evapco answers questions during a tour of the manufacturing plant.
An international manufacturer of cooling and refrigeration products recently celebrated 40 years in southwest Madera with a catered barbecue, car show, plant tours and more.
“Evapco Madera was the second manufacturing plant that Evapco founded,” said Bill Jones, senior vice president of global operations for Evapco. “We were established in 1976 in Baltimore, Maryland, and the operation out here in Madera was founded in 1979. … And the operation has grown substantially over the years.”
Evapco West hosted its annual employee bash Friday at its factory, which has more than tripled in size since its founding.
“I’ve seen it change where this building didn’t exist. It was an empty field,” said Daniel Evangelista after leading a factory tour.
One of 190 employees, Evangelista has worked for Evapco for 16 years.
“I started off in different positions, and I’ve been able to grow within Evapco,” said Evangelista, who handles aftermarket customer service as a Mr. GoodTower Service Center manager for Evapco. “And it’s a company that allows you to grow. It’s a good provider for myself and my family. But it’s also a neat place to work.”
Plant superintendent Gary Harrold has worked 37 years for Evapco. “I’ve been on a long ride, so I’ve seen many changes… The best thing is ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) — profit sharing. They’ve got a lot of good benefits (including a 401K) retirement plan (and) a lot of good people.”
Robert Poythress, Madera County supervisor for District 3, praised the “off-the-charts good” benefits offered by Evapco, including semi-annual bonuses. “But even that’s not enough,” he said. “If people weren’t happy working here, they wouldn’t be here. And they’re very happy.”
The benefits have not been one-way for the company.
“Madera has always ranked as one of our most profitable plants as well as one of the highest in quality and safety… We’ve never struggled with quality of workforce,” said Jones.
Evapco has also benefited from the aid of local agencies.
“We have had a number of expansions over the years that we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from City Council members, Economic Development, (and the Madera) Chamber of Commerce,” said Jones.
“I know that the community, whether it’s city officials or the EDC, has really worked hard with Evapco to make sure anytime they want to expand,” said Poythress, who also noted the area’s affordable housing as a perk for employers. “It’s like: what can we do to help make that happen, to expedite deals?”
Bobby Khan, executive director of Madera County Economic Development Commission, said working with Evapco and similar companies has been “a great experience.”
When Evapco needed a new plant, “we were able to work with them and get special financing for them through the state of California, which helped assist them in building that addition,” said Khan. “And the same when they redid all this parking area in here.”
While business-friendly agencies help, Khan said, the city and county does need more “site-ready” industrial land with “infrastructure in place … sewer, water, street, curb (and) gutter” to attract more companies like Evapco West.
“That’s really what we need and the other thing that would be nice is if we had investors that would come and build some buildings on a speculative basis … We have a vacancy factor in the industrial (land) market of 0.5 percent,” said Khan. “So we tell them that we can build a building for them, and we can tell them that we can build it in six to seven months, but they don’t always believe that. Because there’s not too many communities that can get a project done that fast. But we can do that here in Madera.”
Poythress agreed, “The main thing that we have been missing historically has been space.”
But he said city and county’s Freedom Industrial Park, near Madera South High School, has enabled two businesses to come in. “We have the Span spec building and another business coming in on top of that. And then we’ve had some other areas — in Tesoro Viejo, a light industrial area — that’s going to be developed. So we just need to continue looking for space that can be developed to accommodate mid-size manufacturers.”