Mi Rancho factory

The Citizen’s Steve Crowley visited Elk Grove’s Mi Rancho factory and captured these moments of their staff at work.

Fresh tortillas are being made daily at Elk Grove’s Mi Rancho tortilla manufacturing plant.

The San Leandro-based company took over the former Bimbo Bakeries property at 10115 Iron Rock Way, near McConnell Park, last year after purchasing the site for $8.1 million.

Since then, efforts have been made to retrofit this 150,000-square-foot facility to the highest level of industry standards, at an investment of $25 million.

Mi Rancho is currently focusing on having the facility’s south end retrofitted. Upon completion of that work, the project will move to its next phase: retrofitting the north end.

Joe Santana, Mi Rancho’s vice president of operations, told the Citizen last week that tortilla manufacturing and construction at the company’s Elk Grove facility will continue simultaneously until the retrofitting project is completed. The company produced its first flour tortillas last October.

Santana said that the company is on pace to complete the flour tortilla manufacturing section on the south end of the site by the end of this calendar year.

“Progress is being made,” he said. “We’re actually a little bit behind schedule, but we’re still targeted to have all of our flour tortilla production (in operation) by the end of the year.”

At that time, the company will be running four flour tortilla-manufacturing production lines.

Santana mentioned that the facility will be prepared to begin manufacturing corn tortillas by the middle of next year or a few months later.

“It’s going to take about six to eight months to retrofit the north end,” he said. “We’re putting in new walls, new drains, new floors. It’s a full-blown project that we’re going to (complete).”

Improvements also include the installation of all new, tortilla manufacturing equipment.

Mi Rancho, which has roots dating back to 1939, when Consuelo Cobian founded the business as the first Mexican grocery store in Oakland, has operated in San Leandro since 2013. The company entered the retail marketplace three years earlier.

Mi Rancho now supplies flour and corn tortillas to retail stores across the nation, including various Raley’s and Safeway supermarkets in Northern California. Mi Rancho products are also served in certain restaurants.

As for offering jobs in Elk Grove, Santana said that Mi Rancho will eventually employ more than 200 people in at its new plant.

The company is currently seeking new workers, who can be trained this month to be ready to work at the Elk Grove facility by November. Available jobs include machine operators.

Anticipating the future, Santana said that once the former Bimbo Bakeries plant is transformed into a state-of-the-art facility, it will have a very different appearance.

“It will be completely different,” he said. “By the time we get through, (former Elk Grove Bimbo employees) aren’t going to recognize it.”

Santana was pleased with the company’s opportunity to operate its facility in Elk Grove.

“We’re very thrilled,” he said. “We’ve been working very closely with the city of Elk Grove, the (Cosumnes Community Services District) Fire Department has been very helpful, and we’re going to continue to work with them very closely. We’re excited to be in the community, we’re excited to be in Elk Grove.”