Tag Archives: Thermolator

California Transplants Helps Farmers to Get a Growing Start

Plants are accessed through drop down sidewalls and loaded onto carts.California Transplants in Newman, CA was established in 1997 when Ted Woods, a grower with more than three decades of experience in the vegetable transplant industry started his business. Today the farm operates under approximately 1.9 million square feet of plastic. The plastic we’re referring sits atop the 274 greenhouses that California Transplants uses and maintains on their 100-acre farm.

Transfer cart travels between houses and is filled from both sides.

Transfer cart travels between houses and is filled from both sides.

Benches partly emptied through drop down sidewalls.

Benches partly emptied through drop down sidewalls.

Benches full ready for off loading

Benches full ready for off loading

“Tomatoes grown for processing purposes make up 95% of our business and the other items we grow such as fresh market tomatoes and broccoli fill in some of the gaps,” Woods said. “These fill-in crops will change based on our customers’ needs.” In the past, California Transplants has grown things such as peppers, cauliflower, melons, cabbage and many other specialty crops over the years.

The business model at California Transplants is all about expediency, quality and convenience. “The farmer brings us the seeds and we germinate them, grow the plants and ship it to him,” Woods said. “We get the orders well in advance and then we fill them, so we never grow anything unless our farmers want it. We have eight salesmen that cover the state and our crew varies based on volume and the time of year. We’re in an ideal location, because of our dry and arid site above the valley fog. And due to our central location, we’re able to deliver our transplants to the field with little turnaround time.”

By closely monitoring the seeding, germination and transplanting of all its plants, California Transplants produces hearty seedlings that grow into healthy crops. By maintaining a clean, carefully controlled growing Woods and his crew are able to give its customers a disease-free start plants to their growing season.

“Fresh market” tomatoes are tomato transplants that are grown by California’s customers that are farmers primarily in California to ultimately be sold in grocery stores statewide. “Processing” tomatoes are also transplants, but in the end they go to canneries to end up as tomato paste, sauce diced tomatoes and ketchup, to adorn hamburgers and French Fries worldwide.

After working for other growers for almost 20 years, Woods decided to make the leap to owning his own operation, when a group of investors approached him. “They asked me to start my own business and my contract had just expired with my former employer, so I said yes and put it all together. It’s been a very successful endeavor and I enjoy it. As long as I want to keep doing it, I have no plans to retire. I don’t really know what I would do if I was retired, because I’ve been doing this for so long.”

Ted’s son Mark worked for his father for many years until he came one day he went to his dad and told him that he had what you might call “growing plans.” “Mark worked for me and helped me to set up California Transplants and then it was time for him to move on and get his own thing started (Woods Transplants) and that has been great.”

Woods started working with Agra Tech when he founded California Transplants and “It has worked out well for all of us and it’s a great relationship,” he said. “Of the 274 greenhouses we have, all but 19 of them are from Agra Tech. Jim Bergantz, our rep from Agra Tech sells them to us; John Pound advises us: Anita Pound helps to engineer the structures and Ray Pound’s company Ag-Con in San Jose, CA does all of the construction. The people at Agra Tech are easy to work with and every time we’ve gone to them with requests, design modifications and things like that—they’re always willing to make it happen for us.”

By Ed Attanasio

A Growing Demand at Woods Transplants


Mark Woods in his Agra Tech transplant greenhouse


Woods Transplants in Gustine, CA was established in 2008 and currently the farm consists of 28 acres containing 54 greenhouses and totaling 400,000 square feet of greenhouse space. The farm produces primarily tomatoes and during the off-season, they grow kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, celery and peppers, Woods said and everything sold is in the form of transplants. The greenhouses featured at Woods Transplants are purchased from Agra Tech, Inc. of Pittsburg, CA—one of the largest commercial greenhouse manufacturers on the west coast.

Transplant house with benches and watering boom

Transplant house with benches and watering boom


Owner Mark Woods, 47, is a second-generation grower with almost 20 years in the transplant business, he explained. “I started working with my father (Ted Woods, the owner of California Transplants) when I was ten years old, so I grew up in this industry. I learned by doing and maybe that’s the best way. We’re in our 8th growing season now at Woods Transplants, so it’s been a good career and I enjoy the work. My father is 70 and he has no plans to retire and expect him to be doing this as long as he can.”

“We sell tomatoes to 35 different farmers that are mostly in California, with a handful in Mexico and Arizona,” Woods said. “Everything we sell is grown from seed; tomatoes make up roughly 90% of our business.”


Transplants in Agra Tech Thermolator 35 greenhouse with drop wall and benches

Growing and selling cannery and fresh market tomato transplants is the mainstay at Woods Transplants. “We grow them for growers who can’t, for whatever reason,” Woods said. “We purchase the seeds and then germinate them and by the time we ship them, they’re strong, healthy and hearty. We start planting the tomatoes right after Christmas and then they grow until the end of May. Then the fresh market items that we grow will take us through August. Our crew starts out with 15 full-time people and then it expands to roughly 30 people as the volume increases.  Most of our tomatoes are eventually headed to the processing facilities, where they are primarily used for tomato paste, ketchup and those types of things.”

Woods buys the greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc. and then Ag-Con Construction in San Jose, CA builds them. It’s a family affair, because John Pound (the owner of Agra Tech) sells Woods Transplants the structures and Ray Pound (John’s brother and the owner of Ag-Con) builds them for Mark and his father, the owner of California Transplants in Newman, CA.

Woods established a working relationship with Agra Tech early on by acquiring greenhouses from the manufacturer and tapping into Agra Tech’s knowledge and expertise. It’s a partnership that has gained momentum over the years, as both companies have expanded and changed with the technology.

“It has worked out well for both parties.” Woods said. “We work closely with Jim Bergantz, our Agra Tech sales rep and he handles everything well for us. We’re extremely happy working with Agra Tech and that’s why we’ve bought so many greenhouses from them. If we have questions or need something above and beyond from these people, they don’t hesitate to come through for us. Their customer service is exceptional across the board. We’ve worked with Agra Tech on so many greenhouses that we’ve got it down to a science by now.”

Agra Tech TH35 Woods

Transplants in Agra Tech Thermolator 35 greenhouse with drop wall and benches

Expansion may be in the future for Woods Transplants, but their current location is already packed with greenhouses. “We’re landlocked right now, but my sales people are telling me we can sell more transplants, so we need to get more land and build some more greenhouses.”

Written by Edmund Attanasio

Archi’s Acres Offers War Veterans Blossoming Careers

With a high percentage of unemployment among our country’s war veterans, Archi’s Acres and Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) fulfill a pressing need by providing sustainable careers in small-scale organic farming for veterans. By training servicemen and women to establish small farms and setting them up for success within the agricultural industry, VSAT has graduated more than 100 veterans to work for existing farms or starting their very own small businesses and/or family farms. This effort is the brainchild of Colin Archipley and his wife Karen, an amazing couple that is passionate about their organization and proactively supports sustainable agriculture while serving our nation’s veterans.

The couple was married while Colin was serving as a rifleman in the United States Marine Corps, and between deployments to Iraq, they were able to turn a three-acre unmaintained avocado farm in the hills above Escondido, California into a thriving farm. By combining their drive and passion for organic farming, the Archipleys have converted their land into a state-of-the-art, organic, hydroponic greenhouse operation. After purchasing two Thermolator greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc, the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial greenhouses, Archi’s Acres was born.

Known for being a leading manufacturer of quality greenhouses and accessories as well as a distributor of world-class equipment for commercial, horticultural, and agricultural growers, retail nurseries, research and education facilities, Agra Tech, Inc. was able to help the Archipleys throughout the entire selection and installation process. Today, this modest hydroponic farm produces living basil and kale, and more for local markets. Recently, Archi’s Acres signed a contract with Whole Foods to sell its living basil in selected locations throughout the West.

By taking the operation to a whole new level starting in 2007, the Archipleys decided to pursue their shared vision for establishing an entrepreneurial incubator for transitioning veterans. As a result, the Archipleys founded the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, to help veterans by educating them about organic farming and how to start their own businesses and farms.

“We give veterans a hand up instead of a handout,” Karen Archipley explained. “We’re in a booming industry right now, so the future opportunities for these graduates are potentially great. And working at a farm is also therapeutic for these veterans, because the farm is an ideal place to de-compress while you’re making a living.”

Since accepting its first class in 2007, VSAT has trained more than 100 veterans for careers in sustainable agriculture and other sectors in the food supply chain. And due to the project’s unprecedented success, Archi’s Acres is presently also rolling out its VSAT program at locations throughout the country, while using greenhouses, made by Agra Tech, Inc. By working hard and learning more about the organic farming industry as they continue this miraculous journey, Karen and Colin have transformed their vision into the very first local company in their industry with a national footprint.

After completing VSAT’s six-week (270 hours) program, veteran/students can tap into the valuable business relationships that the Archipleys have established with industry leaders and experts to find opportunities for its graduates. Currently, many VSAT graduates are thriving farm owners and workers, soil-testing pioneers, restaurateurs, and owners of food companies, just to name a few.

VSAT students are taught about how to flourish in a self-employed capacity, by taking courses with titles like Organic Production Methods, Hydroponics, Greenhouse Production, Irrigation maintenance, installation and sales, Food Handlers Management, Farm Ownership and Management, Introduction to resources for farm loan programs from Farm Service Agency, USDA, Whole Foods and private lending. Also VSAT’s curriculum includes an Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) and teaches their students about how to building a business plan model; resume building and introductions to agricultural leaders.

After completing a third-party Agriculture Irrigation Specialist examination and scoring at least 70% or better on the final exam, VSAT students receive a certificate of completion from Archi’s Acres, in addition to a certificate from California State University San Marcos, the school that sponsors the VSAT program.

According to Agra Tech, Inc.’s web site, the Thermolator is one of the manufacturer’s most popular quonset greenhouses, also known as a “tunnel structure”. Growers have successfully assembled literally thousands of Thermolator greenhouses / tunnels since 1980 and this model boasts the best value per square foot of all our greenhouses as it can be used for practically all crops in almost all weather conditions and climates.

By using Agra Tech, Inc.’s Thermolators for hydroponic farming, Archi’s Acres can produce more crops than your average farm, according to Colin Archipley. “We can do 15-16 turns annually, while the average with soil is around 11-13 turns. Without a greenhouse, farms can normally turn their crops only 6-10 times per year. By going this route, we also avoid pest-related problems that come from soil-born crops. Also, our water (which is not cheap in Escondido) is used more efficiently through our hydroponic systems.”

Here are basic stats on Agra Tech, Inc.’s Thermolator greenhouses: They come in two standard widths: 30′ & 35′. The 5′ or 6′ sidewalls allow full use of the span and may be equipped with either roll-up walls or dropwalls for convenient access to crops from both sides.

The Archipleys love their Thermolator greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc. and have nothing but praise for the company and their Sales Engineer Jim Bergantz. “Jim comes and speaks to all of our classes, to share his expertise and vast knowledge of the greenhouse industry. For that reason, we are proud to be partnering with Agra Tech, Inc. now and in the future. As we expand and purchase more land, we’ll be buying more greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc. and continually recommending them for use by our graduates, because it’s definitely our company of choice.”

By: Ed Attanasio