Made in the Valley: California Tomato Machinery, Westside Equipment

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If you had pizza or ketchup lately, you may be surprised to know the tomato in it, was probably harvested by a machine made in the Valley. (KFSN)

If you had pizza or ketchup lately, you may be surprised to know the tomato in it, was probably harvested by a machine made in the Valley.

There's a spark in Madera as employees put together harvesters at Westside Equipment, California Tomato Machinery.

"California is the largest overall, being that they produce 25 to 30 percent of the world's total production tomatoes -- which is your pizza sauce your ketchup sauce, those kinds of things," said Dan Roderick, president.

Roderick is all about tomatoes and helping bring the fruit from the field to the factory.
His company started in 1986 and in 2001 started manufacturing machinery."

"Originally when I started, I had three employees including me, four. And now we have 51 full time employees," said Roderick.

The machines are designed by engineers, who use technology to piece together each part.

"Internationally there's a different way that they Harvest so we have to plan for that and design for to fit the type of way they harvest there," said Micah Haines, engineering manager.

Out on the production line, employees build 15 to 20 machines a year.

"About a thousand man hours of welding assembly total to get one of these things through the door," said Kris Roderick, production manager.

There are about 5,000 pieces in a part. When it's done, the machine will weigh about 36,000 pounds and roll down the field and harvest tomatoes.

Kris Roderick is the production manager and his father is the president. He says the company is a family affair.

"You always want to grow up and be your dad to be like him. I want to keep growing that's what I could see you later in life. I'd like to double the size one day," said Kris Roderick.

The harvester is sold to farmers across the San Joaquin Valley and even to places across world to places like Brazil, China and Peru.

"If their picking tomatoes we've sold them a machine that problem came from us one way or the other, anywhere you look in California. Now you go to other countries and you get to see my machines in different countries that I've never seen or been to before and it's pretty interesting. You get to see something you've made somewhere else," said Dan Roderick.

Tomato harvesting season gets underway July. The crew there says they're looking forward to a playing a role in a bountiful harvest season here in the Valley and beyond.
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