Fruit, diesel fuel rapid expansions

By on October 8, 2014

For two Ephrata Township companies, business is good.
Very good.
Ephrata Township supervisors gave the green light to plans which would allow rapid expansion of both Stauffer Diesel and Golden State Fruit Company in order to accommodate significant upcoming orders.
For Stauffer Diesel, supervisors approved a revised final plan for construction to begin on a second building and to complete work on a plan first approved in 2005. Because the plan approved on Tuesday evening was essentially the same plan initially approved, there were no barriers prohibiting supervisors from acting.
Engineer Kevin Varner reviewed plans for supervisors and pointed out that stormwater facilities were already in place according to that plan.
“There are a few shifts in parking spots but basically this is the same as the original approval,” explained Varner.
The township’s engineer agreed with that assessment.
“This is pretty straight-forward,” said Jim Caldwell of Rettew Associates. “There really are no issues.”
Company owner Steve Stauffer explained the urgency of the addition.
“We just got a contract to rebuild 300 units built from 2006 and 2007,” said Stauffer. “These are 700 horsepower engines, each of which weighs five tons. We will be rebuilding, repainting and refurbishing all of them.”
Stauffer explained that this process is far more labor intensive than simply building diesel engines. It takes three times the labor.
“When disassembling we need somewhere to go with parts,” said Stauffer. With new assemblies, new parts come together, we test the finish product and ship. This process will create several very good new jobs.”
Once the company hits its stride, up to six units will need to be produced, taking approximately a year and a half to complete all of the units.
“We need to get up to making six of these per week, at 300 man-hours per unit or 1,800 man-hours for our group per week” added Stauffer.
The units being rebuilt power locomotives. A unit consists of a generator and three 700 hp diesel engines, which are then computer-controlled to effectively move the locomotive, creating a combined 2,100 horse power at full power. Stauffer explained that this rebuild comes at about mid-life for these engines. While it is unclear if these units will see yet another rebuild, Stauffer Diesel is prepared to handle the volume.
Volume is also the name of the game for another bustling Ephrata Township business, but this economic engine is not diesel but the holidays. Golden State Fruit Company has taken up residence in the former Sport and Turf Shop along Route 272. Just as was the case with Stauffer Diesel, the path to growth was helped considerably by the fact expansions plans had already been previously approved by township officials.
Building owner Scott Cover was present for Tuesday evening’s meeting.
“The reason for coming in short notice is that the tenant, Golden State Fruit Company, assembles 7,000 fruit baskets a day between Thanksgiving and New Years and 70,000 dozen strawberries over the Valentine’s Day holiday.”
Cover added that the company is a top supplier for FTD, who had asked Golden State to up their productions for the upcoming season. In order to accommodate that amount of volume, a 74,000-square foot building addition is needed, including a large cold storage area.
“The original plan did include a very similar footprint addition, basin and access drive,” explained Caldwell. Township code allows for revised final plans to come directly before the supervisors, in cases where only very minor changes are made to the originally-approved plan.
Over the next several weeks, a retail store will be opening on the front portion of the building in the space formerly utilized by the Sports and Turf business. Cover said everything is mostly set up and ready to open.
In related news, it was indicated the new retail space at A.B. Martin’s new location at the corner of Garden Spot Road and Route 272 in the former Wickes Lumber building, could likewise be open within the next several weeks. While a few of the buildings toward the back of the building remain under construction, work has largely completed in the storefront.
Township manager Steve Sawyer shared photos of the township’s portion of the newest portion of the Rail to Trail project. Currently under construction, this new portion will connect the trail already in place in Ephrata Borough through Ephrata Township and into Akron. The three municipalities are working together on planning and funding the project which, according to Sawyer, appears to be on schedule for a fall completion.
For additional information about Ephrata Township, visit
Gary P. Klinger is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached via email at or via twitter at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *