RIVERBANK -- A food manufacturer employing 150 people that Riverbank hoped to lure to its industrial park is expanding its business in Modesto.
Rizo López Foods is buying the former Trim Masters plant in the Beard Industrial District. Trim Masters made interior door panels for Toyota pickups until closing March 31 and laying off 187 workers. Its shuttering came after Toyota's decision to pull out of a Fremont plant.
The sale of Trim Masters' 128,000-square-foot plant is expected to close in October. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Rizo López doesn't expect to start production in Modesto until early 2012 because it will need to retrofit the plant. It will continue to manufacture in downtown Riverbank at its 35,000-square-foot plant after it starts production in Modesto.
"It's a win-win situation for everyone," said Laurie Smith, Modesto's administrative services officer in Community and Economic Development. "We have high hopes for it. It's exciting to see a business expand during this economic climate."
Rizo López plans to hire workers for the expansion, but Chief Executive Officer Ivan Rizo did not have any firm figures. The expansion also is good news for the local dairies that supply Rizo López.
Rizo López expects to have two-thirds of its operations in Modesto and the remaining portion in Riverbank, Rizo said. How long the company operates two plants depends on the economics of doing so.
But Rizo López would need to be out of downtown Riverbank within five years as the city phases out industrial uses there, City Manager Rich Holmer said.
The company makes a variety of Hispanic cheeses, yogurts, creams and desserts, which it sells under its Don Francisco brand. It sells meat products manufactured by another company, also under the Don Francisco name.
The products are sold in California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, Texas and Florida. Locally, the products are sold at Save Mart, Food 4 Less and Mexican grocers.
Besides the 150 employees at its Riverbank plant, Rizo said the company employs an additional 70 workers, such as sales representatives, throughout California.
Riverbank had planned on having Rizo López build a plant in the former Riverbank Army ammunition complex. The city took over the plant April 1 and is working on turning it into a jobs-rich industrial park.
Rizo had nothing but praise for Riverbank officials and said the decision to expand in Modesto was based on the bottom line.
"The city of Riverbank has been very good to us," he said. "It was economics. It's cheaper to buy a building than to build new."
Holmer said the city worked with Rizo López to try to keep them in Riverbank.
"I think they have been more than patient," he said. "They don't have the room to produce, so they can't meet the demand."
Rizo said the Modesto expansion will let the company increase production by 100 percent and meet the needs of a growing market. He declined to release Rizo López's annual sales, but Dun & Bradstreet estimates them at $10.3 million.
Rizo said his brother Edwin started Rizo López in Riverbank in 1991, selling Don Francisco cheeses made by another company. Rizo López started producing its own food in 1996. The company is owned by Ivan Rizo and Edwin Rizo, who is the company's president.
Bee assistant librarian Karen Aiello contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2316.