Visalia’s former Jostens to be leased to Italian produce firm

Sorma Inc. leases the former Jostens building for plastics packaging of consumer products

VISALIA – The shell of Jostens former printing plant in Visalia is being revitalized for a new purpose thanks to an Italian produce firm.

One of the mainstays of the Visalia economy for decades has been Jostens American Yearbook who closed their doors about a year ago after 25 years. The big printing plant churned out yearbooks for high school students all over the West Coast and employed up to 700 at times of the year. Over 100 were laid off when it closed.

Now a produce industry printing company, Italian-owned Sorma Inc, wants to lease the 100,000-square foot building for its operation working with flexible, plastic packaging films to be used for consumer products for fresh produce firms like Sunkist and Del Monte. Packages run the gamut from plastic clam shell to film-based bags to netting for produce like onions and avocados.

The ag-based firm has been in Visalia in a smaller rented warehouse on Ferguson since 2012.

Tracy Hart, CEO of the company says, “Currently we employ 36, and with the expansion into the new facility, expect that to grow to 50 or more within 12 months.”

For several years Sorma was planning on constructing a new 70,000-square foot building but the re-use of the building vacated by Jostens at 231 Kelsey Ave. has apparently changed their plans.

The Sorma Group was established in 1973 and has become one of the world’s largest providers of packaging materials and machinery with an annual revenue of over 300 million Euros per year.

They also sell, install and service packaging equipment Sorma manufactured in Europe for all regions of North America, including Mexico and Canada. Sorma USA LLC is the North American division of Sorma SpA and Netpack SpA, both headquartered in Cesena, Italy.

Making all this happen is developer Butch Oldfield, of American Inc. who is also seeking approval to do a lot split on excess land he is acquiring from Jostens. He plans to re-sell acreage north of the building that will allow Hillsdale to connect to the industrial park and open several lots for development in this busy part of the city, north of Highway 198.

Oldfield has re-leased several other large vacant buildings in Visalia including the former TreeHouse Foods building on Goshen and a large pipe storage building on Johnson near Downtown, where an indoor soccer facility that includes a brewery is being built.

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