Hidden treasures prosper in Fairfield business parks

By From page C2 | September 09, 2012

A good supply of flexible industrial space can make it easier for small manufacturers and distributors to set up shop in Fairfield.

With a variety of industrial parks and developments, Fairfield offers such space in sizes and rents suitable for a broad range of users. The city’s economic development staff works closely with real estate brokers and potential tenants to find suitable space.

Fairfield’s largest contiguous industrial area is located south of Highway 12 and includes two business parks, Solano Business Park and Busch Corporate Center. Our readers are certainly familiar with larger tenants in these parks, including the Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewery, Jelly Belly Candy Company and Meyer Corporation, but tucked among the big users are also buildings featuring flexible spaces in a variety of sizes.

These buildings house interesting smaller firms that add to the economic diversity of the Fairfield economy. This week, we visit two of the more unusual businesses in this premiere industrial area.

One new company to locate in Solano Business Park since 2012 is Top Shelf Beverages, Inc., a producer of Kombucha beverages.

Kombucha is defined as an “effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea.” The culture used to make Kombucha is a combination of yeast and bacteria that forms a mat or strands in the liquid. Kombucha has a tangy flavor. Commercially, kombucha beverages are generally combined with fruit juices or other flavorings. In addition to the refreshing taste, some advocates claim kombucha helps the liver detoxify the body and may have cancer-fighting properties.

Top Shelf produces Clearly Kombucha, a “labor of love” for Caleb Cargle and Alison Zarrow, who founded the company after discovering there was a distinct lack of healthy nonalcoholic beverages. Clearly Kombucha comes in original, ginger, Asian pear, black currant and tangerine flavors. All natural, with no artificial flavors. Unlike some kombucha beverages, Clearly Kombucha is cold-filtered to remove sediments.

We spoke with Cargle about his company.

“We started in Mountain View as a tiny kitchen-based brewery,” he said. “In order to scale up, we looked around for a space that was bigger, more industrial. The wine and brewery industries in Fairfield were just more appropriate for our business.”

As for their market, Cargle said, “Our focus as a real family owned business was on smaller natural food stores and specialty shops.”

However, as they fine-tune their process, Top Shelf is looking to expand into larger stores as well, while still remaining focused on smaller merchants. In fact, Ralph’s Supermarkets, a dominant Southern California chain, approached Top Shelf. And, Cargle said, they are looking to move into Nugget Markets.

Top Shelf currently employs seven people, including six in Northern California. They still have strong sales on the Peninsula and Clearly Kombucha can be found in Napa at Browns Valley Markets, Sunshine Foods and Vallergas’ Markets, and in Fairfield at Hot Spot Deli on Chadbourne Road.

Another interesting business located on Courage Drive is California Rice Oil Company.

Founded in Novato in 1999, California Rice Oil moved to 2485 Courage Drive in Fairfield two years ago to take advantage of more affordable warehouse rents and shipping costs. The firm has its headquarters in Fairfield.

California Rice Oil imports and packages high-quality rice bran oil produced in Thailand and distributes the product throughout the western United States. Some studies have found rice bran oil offers a variety of health benefits, including being a balanced fat high in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

“Dr. Oz did a segment on rice bran oil as a healthy game changer and it provided a big boost for our retail and Internet sales,” said Kirk Scarborough, one of the firm’s owners. “Our four employees have been quite active packaging product, and UPS has been running extra delivery trucks to our Fairfield location.”

Your Economic Notes reporters love to hear about local companies doing well.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or email at [email protected] or [email protected]

Brian Miller and Karl Dumas


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