Irrigation systems manufacturer Aquarius Brands Inc. is expanding in the California market.
Aquarius announced it will move its Ontario, Calif., manufacturing operation to Fresno, Calif., and add more production equipment.
Boosting Fresno's floor space from 112,000 square feet to 187,000 square feet will cost about $1 million, while millions of dollars more will be spent on extrusion and other equipment, according to Dave Abrams, chief executive officer of Jain Irrigation Inc., the U.S. parent company for Aquarius.
``There is a looming crisis in water availability for the southwest United States, and Fresno is ground zero for development of water conservation technologies,'' Abrams said.
Aquarius will move extrusion and injection molding machinery from its Ontario headquarters into Fresno by the end of the year. At about the same time it will boost extrusion capacity in Fresno to make drip tape and drip-type tubing, Abrams said in a telephone interview.
The company has signed a 20-year lease with an option to purchase the Fresno facility. Abrams said some administrative functions will continue at Ontario while Aquarius decides whether to renew the lease there. Fresno's employment, now at 49 full-time positions, will rise to 150 when the consolidation is done.
Aquarius was bought by Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. of Jalgaon, India, early this year. At about the same time, Jain acquired Chapin Watermatics of Watertown, N.Y. The two purchases vaulted the Indian company to No. 2 in global drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, behind Netafilm Ltd. of Tel Aviv, Israel. More recently, Jain bought a 50 percent interest in NaanDan Irrigation Systems of Naan, Israel. The business now is called Naandan Jain Irrigation C.S. Ltd.
In a July 24 news release, Aquarius said Fresno State University is home to the International Center for Water Technology's Product Testing and Certification Facility.
``It just makes sense for us to concentrate our resources, and Fresno is the right place to do it,'' Abrams added.
Jain was a pioneer of drip irrigation for small farmers in India. Aquarius makes drip irrigation systems for agriculture, landscape and nursery applications. Its product lines include fittings, filters, air vents, drip tapes, tubing, emitters and accessories.