A Lompoc company in business for decades is closing its doors for now, at least at its current location.
Lompoc Valley Seed & Milling owner Bob Campbell says the decline in demand for dry beans and the cost to do business has led them to this decision.
The warehouse facility has been located on the 1100 block of W. Laurel since 1959. The Campbells took over in 2006.
Beans grown in and around the Lompoc Valley are brought to the facility to be cleaned, packaged and shipped.
Beans can also be purchased at the warehouse.
Fifteen years ago, Campbell says they processed 12 to 14 million pounds per year. Now, that number has dropped to just four million, leaving the Campbells with no choice but to close – or at least downsize significantly.
Campbell says there used to be bean and grain warehouses all over the coast of California, but over the years, many have shut down, including those in Oxnard, Guadalupe, Santa Maria and now Lompoc.
“It’s a sign of the times, things change,” Campbell said. “The dry bean industry is not a profitable business here. We need to do something different if we are going to stay in business.”
Campbell says they are “seriously considering” opening up a smaller facility.
“There are a lot of people that don’t want us to go away, but we’re trying to figure out how to stay open and stay profitable. It has to go hand-in-hand,” Campbell said.
The Campbells are farmers, too. With property in Lompoc, he says they may put some type of facility there and open up a retail and online store in town, but nothing is for sure just yet.
Lompoc Valley Seed & Milling’s business comes not just from California. People from all over the world rely on them for beans.
Campbell says they ship overseas to the Netherlands and Japan and also supply beans for a company in Twin Falls, Idaho.
While Cambell says they notified the company in the Netherlands some time ago they would need to find a new supplier, he says they are still working with the company in Idaho to see if they can still provide them with beans.
The issue, Cambell says, is with the Lompoc facility closing down, the seeds would not be cleaned prior to shipping, so the shipping weight would increase due to extra dirt and sediment on the beans. The company would also need to package the beans themselves.
Campbell says the consumption of dry beans has declined over the years and the cost to grow the beans is also more expensive along the coast of California. He cites the price of land and water.
Any bean that can be grown away from the shore – the San Joaquin Valley or the mid-west – they’re moving them there, Campbell says.
The Campbell family has been in the farming and ranching industry in Lompoc now for five generations.
He says they hope no jobs will be lost due to the warehouse’s closure.
“These are people that have been with us a number of years, been loyal to us and done a fine job and we want to try to find a spot (on the produce side) and keep them on,” Campbell said.
The store is expected to close by June. The property is currently in escrow.