– January 28, 2015

Tulare’s BMI Mechanical takes family biz honors

From left, Dax Brott poses with parents Bernadette and Garth behind BMI Mechanical's California Family Business Award. From left, Dax Brott poses with parents Bernadette and Garth behind BMI Mechanical's California Family Business Award. It was a reunion of sorts for Tulare County's own "Flying Burrito Brothers" amateur volleyball team at the 25th annual California Family Business Award dinner last night in Fresno.

Fred Ruiz, founder of frozen Mexican food giant Ruiz Foods, played on the team with lifelong friend Garth Brott, third-generation president of Tulare's BMI Mechanical, Inc. The families of both businessmen were in attendance at Pardini's as BMI Mechanical won the California Family Business Award.

Dax Brott, Garth's son and BMI Mechanical's future fourth-generation leader, accepted the award in front of nearly 160 guests representing the Central Valley's leading family businesses.

"We are always here for each other so we can be there for our customers," Dax said of the Brott family.

He also thanked the company's 34 employees and those from the past, dating back to the mechanical contractor's founding by Ernest Emmet "Double E" Brott in Burlington, Kansas in 1910.

Installation of a powdered milk system brought the Brotts to California Dairies in Tipton in 1927. Sensing opportunity, son Gail Brott helped establish a plumbing and sheet metal shop in Tulare in 1935. The company expanded as Garth came to the helm in the 1970s.

Today, BMI Mechanical provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning solutions for commercial clients throughout the state, from telecommunications companies, banks and hospitals to dairies, food processors and even the alternative energy industry

BMI Mechanical was among five finalists for the Central Valley's only family business award, bestowed annually by the Institute for Family Business at Fresno State's Craig School.

The finalists were:

• Fresno-based Agri-Valley Irrigation, a third generation irrigation company founded by Larry Rompal in 1983

• The Garabedian Group in Fresno, a second-generation financial consulting, accounting and advisory firm with roots dating back to 1985 with founder Dale Garabedian

• Clovis-based Jan Thomas Swim School, a second-generation school founded by Jan Thomas, who has taught nearly 60,000 kids how to swim since her start in 1958.

• Pickett & Sons Construction, a third-generation Fresno contractor founded in 1971, behind such projects as the new three-story headquarters of Fresno law firm McCormick Barstow.

A new honor for the program, called the Rising Star Award, was given to Salter's Distributing in Madera. The award goes to businesses that may not have the longevity of other family businesses, but exemplify their best practices. Founded in 1990 by David Salter, this second-generation family wholesaler provides goods — toys, batteries, tools, sunglasses, etc — to area retailers.

Delivering the keynote address of the night was Fred Ruiz, accompanied to the event with family members and key team members including wife Mitzie, daughter and Ruiz Foods Chair Kim Ruiz-Beck and CEO Rachel Cullen.

Ruiz was instrumental in the founding of the Institute for Family Business 25 years ago. He said family businesses must constantly evolve to survive and thrive, especially in the face of the digital revolution and unsure economy.

"A successful family business is a long-term goal, like a marathon that never ends," Ruiz said. "It's not a straight arrow."

Ruiz Foods, itself a third-generation business, is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Ruiz shared a slide presentation of the company's history, from humble beginnings to presidential visits and domination of the US frozen Mexican food market.

When Ruiz Foods got its start, a five-person burrito-making line with rudimentary equipment could churn out about 60 burritos an hour. Today, one person manning an automated line can make 65 burritos a minute.

The most moving part of Ruiz's talk was the story of when he and father Louis traveled to Washington in 1983 to receive the US Small Business Person of the Year Award from President Ronald Reagan. As part of the trip, award winners were treated to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Unbeknownst to Fred, his father — a World War II Army veteran — was invited to participate in the ceremony alongside other military personnel. Fred choked up as he recalled the sight, his dad marching ramrod straight, executing sharp pivots as he carried the wreath.

"I had never seen my dad like that. It was like he was in Okinawa, back in World War II," Fred said. "He walked like a soldier."

How often do you shop at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 01/28/2015, 1:37 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — The U.S. stock market is slumping at the close as oil falls to its lowest level in nearly six years.
Written on 01/28/2015, 1:20 pm by Hannah Esqueda
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Written on 01/28/2015, 12:22 pm by Gabriel Dillard
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Written on 01/28/2015, 11:34 am by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
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Written on 01/28/2015, 11:31 am by ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press
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Written on 01/28/2015, 11:29 am by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — The Federal Reserve reiterated Wednesday that it will be "patient" in raising rates from record lows but noted that inflation remains well below its target rate. In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed made clear that no rate increase is imminent. Chair Janet Yellen said after last month's meeting that by saying it would be "patient," the Fed was signaling there would be no rate increase for at least two meetings. The Fed's statement Wednesday said the factors holding inflation below its 2 percent target rate have intensified since its last meeting in December. Inflation has stayed ultra-low partly because of a plunge in energy prices and a steadily strengthening dollar. The central bank said it thinks inflation will decline further before starting to rise gradually. The Fed statement's emphasis on low inflation could affect when it decides to raise its key short-term rate from near zero. Many economists have forecast a Fed rate hike in June but some have pushed back that timetable. The U.S. economy's steady growth and a strengthening job market would normally argue for a move to begin raising rates to prevent high inflation. The Fed has kept its benchmark rate near zero since December 2008 to encourage borrowing, spending and investment and support the economy's recovery from the Great Recession. The Fed's key rate affects rates on many consumer and business loans. But concerns about global economic weakness and low inflation have raised doubts about when the Fed's first rate increase will occur. A growing number of economists say the date could slip to September or even later. Economists at Morgan Stanley this week pushed back their forecast for the first rake hike to March 2016 because of the factors holding inflation down. If the Fed wants to signal that a rate hike is coming in June, it would need to alter the "patient" wording at its next meeting in mid-March. A complicating factor is the European Central Bank's new plan to flood its sputtering economy with more than 1 trillion euros. That money should keep the eurozone's interest rates ultra-low and could lead some investors to buy higher-yielding U.S. Treasurys. That would further strengthen the dollar and could push U.S. inflation further below the Fed's 2 percent target. Growth in China, the world's second largest economy, is slowing, too. By contrast, the U.S. economy added nearly 3 million jobs added last year, enough to cut the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent. That is just above the Fed's goal of 5.2 percent to 5.5 percent unemployment. But Yellen and other Fed officials have pointed to other factors — such as weak pay growth and a still-high number of part-time workers who can't find full-time jobs — as evidence that more must be done to achieve a healthy job market. U.S. prices rose just 1.2 percent in the 12 months that ended in November, according to the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation. When inflation is too low, consumer spending — and economic growth — can slow as people delay purchases on the assumption that the same or lower prices will be available later. The biggest fear is deflation — a broad decline in prices and income that can further restrain spending and even tip an economy into recession.
Written on 01/28/2015, 11:28 am by JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press
(AP) — The nation's largest prepaid mobile provider, TracFone Wireless, will pay $40 million to settle government claims that it misled smartphone customers with promises of unlimited data service. The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that TracFone promised unlimited data in its advertising, but then drastically slowed down consumers' data speeds — a practice known as throttling — when they had used a certain amount of data within a 30-day period. In some cases, the FTC said, the company cut off customers' data service when they ran over the limit. TracFone's prepaid wireless service is sold under various brands, including Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile and Telcel America. Throttling will slow down the ability to open Web pages or stream video. According to the commission, TracFone generally throttled the data flow when a customer used about 1 gigabyte to 3 gigabytes. Data service was sometimes suspended at 4 gigabytes to 5 gigabytes, the FTC said. TracFone did not respond to an email requesting comment. Consumers who had a Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, or Telcel America unlimited plan before January 2015 can file a claim for a refund at . Refunds will vary depending on several factors, including how long a consumer had the TracFone plan and how many consumers request refunds. The FTC charges that TracFone has been throttling consumers or cutting unlimited service since 2009. The commission's complaint says there was no technical reason for TracFone to limit the data plans, such as slowing speeds because of network congestion. Internal documents, the FTC says, suggest the throttling was done to "reduce the high costs associated" with proving unlimited data. In September 2013, TracFone began making some disclosures about throttling unlimited plans, but they were usually not clear or the print was too small for a consumer to notice them, the FTC said. The commission sued AT&T late last year over the same issue. AT&T has denied misleading customers over its unlimited data plans.
Written on 01/28/2015, 11:27 am by 
EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press
(AP) — A sheriffs' organization is broadening its concerns about the popular Waze (pronounced "ways") mobile traffic app. Now it says a feature that lets drivers warn others about nearby police cruisers not only presents a threat to police safety, it also interferes with the ability to write speeding tickets. The National Sheriffs' Association says speed enforcement makes roads safer. The trade group says that if people know where police might be parked on highways, it makes it more difficult to catch people breaking the law. Waze, based in Palo Alto, is a combination of GPS navigation and social networking. Fifty million users in 200 countries turn to the free service for warnings about nearby congestion, car accidents, speed traps, traffic cameras, construction zones, potholes, stalled vehicles or unsafe weather conditions.
Written on 01/28/2015, 11:19 am by Business Journal staff
Central Valley Community Bank announced that James M. Ford will become president and CEO of the bank and parent company effective Feb. 1. Ford currently serves as president of Central Valley Community Bank. A year ago the bank announced that CEO Daniel J. Doyle would be retiring from the position with Ford named as a successor. Ford will also assume a board position for the bank, while Doyle will serve as chairman. “For 35 years, under the successful leadership of only two CEOs, the Bank has invested in the growth, relationships and success of our Valley’s businesses and communities. We congratulate Dan Doyle for his flawless four-decade banking career, 17 of which as our CEO. His rare and effective leadership has left a successful imprint on our Company," stated Daniel Cunningham, chairman of the board for Central Valley Community Bancorp. "Together as directors, we will continue to lead with the confidence that Jim Ford, our third president and CEO will build upon the strong and secure foundation laid for our company and take it to even greater heights guided by integrity and the relationship banking service that has been our cornerstone since our founding." --- Related story: New leadership announced for Fresno bank
Written on 01/28/2015, 10:22 am by Business Journal Staff
Granville Homes will contribute $100,000 to a new campaign launched this month to boost the early brain development and language skills of young children in Fresno. The campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read, Sing,” is a community-wide effort targeted at area children ranging in age from infants up to 5-year-olds. The program is part of a promotion called “Too Small to Fail,” a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. “The best return on investment is the investment we make in our kids,” said Kendra Rogers, Granville’s director of community investment. The campaign has also drawn the support of local business and community leaders including Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino, Fowler Unified School District Superintendent Eric Cederquist and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. Organizers said the program will aim to close the so-called “word gap,” a difference of about 30 million more words that children in high-income families hear from parents and caregivers by their fourth birthday compared to children in low-income families. The fewer words children hear and learn, campaign organizers said, the more likely they are to experience an achievement gap, which persists through kindergarten and has a life-long impact on health and well-being. The project consists of a community-wide, multi-media campaign that highlights for parents and caregivers simple actions that can be done every day – like describing objects seen during a bus ride, asking questions, singing songs, reading aloud, or telling stories – actions that can significantly improve a baby’s ability to build vocabulary and develop their brains, according to early education experts. Campaign messages will appear on billboards, bus ads and in paid media spots. The donation from Granville Homes will serve as initial funding for the paid media campaign. Local organizations, churches, libraries and health care providers will help to distribute campaign materials. “I have often said that good public policy is the best philanthropy,” Granville President Darius Assemi said. “I hope our elected officials and policymakers will lead in these efforts, and join us as we talk, read and sing to our children. This will be a game changer for Fresno County.”

Latest State News

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