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Word on The Street: Aerial firefighting company expands its Fresno facilities nearly sevenfold

A company dedicated to fighting wildfires with cargo planes and cardboard boxes full of water has expanded its Fresno operations more than six times over.

Caylym’s Guardian system uses a corrugated cardboard box that holds 264 gallons of water. It takes five minutes to assemble and fill one and under 20 minutes to fully load a cargo plane with them. All for a price tag of a few hundred dollars.

Gallon for gallon, it’s less than a small cup of Starbucks coffee, said CEO Rick Goddard. And it has a bigger payload than an internal water tank.

Goddard was an officer in the Marine Corps before he transitioned to paper and packaging work. As a California native with a military background, he said, he felt there had to be a better way to aerially fight wildfires.

The idea behind Guardian, patented in 2010, is to use military aircraft’s experience with dropping cargo. But whereas other cargo has parachutes for landing, Guardian’s box lid acts as its parachute and opens via a timed release. With Guardian, the planes can fly higher and faster than they could otherwise for water drops.

The company first sold its wares to countries in South America, Europe and in Australia, but as of December 2014 the U.S. Air National Guard expressed interest as well, Goddard said. This meant the company needed to expand facilities, such as at the plant in Fresno.

With its new long-term lease of a facility near Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Caylym has expanded its Fresno manufacturing plant from 6,000 to 40,000 square feet.

There is very little that needs to be done. The company started moving in this week and is looking to be operational by the end of July, he said. Depending on demand, up to several dozen new employees may be hired after the facility is developed.

The Fresno manufacturing plant will be focused on the company’s three main product lines: the Guardian, the Bullworks flood barrier system and the Fontana emergency aid relief that provides fresh drinking water, he said.

The plant makes about $1.5 million in sales. With the expansion, they’re looking to more than triple that to $5 million by the middle of next year, he said. The facility’s startup expenses are about $350,000.

While the company has facilities elsewhere, such as in Ohio, the company is committed to building in California as it has some of the highest risks for wildfires in the world, Goddard said.

Caylym’s website is http://www.caylym.com/en/.

Sarah Anderson: (559) 441-6248; @Sarahsonofander

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