National feed distributor JD Heiskell has sold off its 13-acre downtown Tulare site to a Merced-based concrete operation. Image via JD Heiskell

published on January 15, 2018 - 1:46 PM
Written by John Lindt

Animal feed distributor JD Heiskell has sold its original 13-acre site in downtown Tulare — the location of its now torn-down mill and remaining six silos next to the Union Pacific rail line.

The buyer is a concrete company, NorCal Rail Park, LLC. The owners are affiliated with Merced-based Central Valley Concrete, said Brandon Williams, the operation’s general manager.

NorCal is owned by two entities, the Neal family —Scott Neal and Staci Leonardo — as well as trucking executive John Lawson of Fresno.

JD Heiskell CEO Scot Hillman said the property includes the 1900s-era office where the company was founded, its 6,500 square-foot, former corporate office built in 1994 as well the six 100-foot silos and rail spurs off the main UP track.

The property was last used for wheat storage in 2015, but has been vacant since.

“We no longer needed the land and faced potential demolition cost for the silos,” Hillman said. “That worked out fine since the concrete company wants to use the silos for storage.”

“NorCal does have some exciting things planned for the site,” Williams said. They will be making some improvements and modifications to the silos and conveyance system to be able rail in and store a variety of products including concrete materials such as cements and cement replacements, sand and gravel, other building materials, and agricultural commodities.

While not a ready-mix site, Williams calls it a “trans-loading facility” bringing in product by rail that is for sale to local construction customers, including concrete companies.

We will be hiring four or five people to start with and expand from there,” added Williams. They are also looking for an experienced person to manage the site.

“This business should be a good one for the City of Tulare since it will be a point-of-sale for concrete products that average $80 to 100 a ton, offering good sales tax revenue to the city,” said Williams, who was raised in Tulare but lives now in Merced.

Williams said they plan to lease out the former corporate office on the site.

Hillman said the downtown Tulare property was no longer needed now that grain storage has been relocated to both Hanford and Pixley, and their corporate office relocated some years back to Hillman Street in Tulare. The business dates from 1886, but now the Tulare grain merchant has grow into a national company with $3.1 billion in sales as of 2016.

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