Baloian Farms thrives after fire 20 years ago

A Fresno company marked a milestone this week by looking back at a tragedy which almost halted its vegetable production.
October 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Fresno company marked a milestone this week by looking back at a tragedy which almost halted its vegetable production.

Brightly colored peppers are quickly sorted, packed and then immediately cooled until they can be shipped from the Baloian Farms facility in Fresno County.

Fresh peppers, squash and other vegetables are destined for retailers across the country. But twenty years ago, the company went up in flames. Arsonists burned pallets outside and set the packing house on fire. Production came to an immediate halt but Ed Baloian vowed to keep moving forward.

Ismael Salas remembered waking up to the bad news.

"I don't believe and I see the news," said Salas. "I see all fire. I thought, maybe no more work but my boss is strong."

Ed Baloian is now 92 years old. His son Tim runs the company.

"My dad made the decision that we're not going to stop," explained Tim. "We had too many people relying on us. Both employees and customers and suppliers."

A charred piece of cardboard reminds visitors the facility was "tried by fire" 20 years ago. But this week the company took workers to lunch and showed them Action News coverage of the fire. Half of them didn't know the facility burned down.

Tim added, "It was important for them to see where we've been and where we've come and how things were done before."

The work stoppage because of the fire lasted just a day. The company's rebuilding process led to an expansion they didn't know was in their future. Baloian Farms has more than doubled in size since the fire.