With all the trouble in the air in Irwindale, the company that makes Sriracha hot sauce now says it’s considering a move somewhere else. Huy Fong Foods is being peppered with offers of new homes close by and far away, but moving to any of them would be costly.
"Denton loves Sriracha. We’ll never shut them down," says city councilman Kevin Roden of Denton, Texas, expressing his city's hots for the hot sauce.
The Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale is 650,000 square feet and makes at least 200,000 bottles of hot sauce a day. The facility currently employs 200 people. Moving out of it is a little different from vacating a college dormitory.
"Unlike moving furniture or relocating an office, this is a little bit more complex," said Nick Vyas, who directs the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at USC's Marshall School of Business.
Acquiring or building a new facility, transporting all of the specialized equipment and hiring and re-certifying new workers would be significant parts of the bill, Vyas says.
"The front line employee base typically will not be relocating with the factory," Vyas told KPCC. "You’ll have to absorb the cost of retraining, and re-certifying and bringing the knowledge again to the new location."
In addition to money, moving far away could cost the company something just as important: close access to its main ingredient, the peppers. They're grown on farms in Ventura County, just an hour away. Vyas figures Huy Fong's owner is just as concerned about that.
"He could literally pick up a load of chilis in an afternoon and start to process them the same evening. And that just-in-time capability is huge in manufacturing," Vyas said.
Different soil and climate conditions in another state might make the peppers taste … different. And that alone might be reason to stay put.
U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando Valley) says Sriracha should just move to the San Fernando Valley. A little closer to the pepper farms … and an easier adjustment for the workers at the plant in Irwindale.
Do you think Irwindale should back down? Or is the Sriracha factory a public nuisance? Let us know in the comments.