toast of the town

INDUSTRY INNOVATION

Lodi-based Champion Juicer has squeezed its way to success.

WRITTEN BY KRISTEN LOWREY LARSON
PHOTOS BY RACHEL VALLEY

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From left, Russell Trovinger, president of Plastaket Manufacturing Inc.,
and Doug Kirkle, general manager, at the main production warehouse in the Plastaket factory in Lodi

Lodi is probably most well known for sprawling vineyards, excellent zinfandel wines, and a cameo in one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most catchy tunes. To the Woock and Trovinger families, Lodi also is where their worldwide success story began.

Juicing together

Walter Woock started Plastaket Manufacturing Inc. in Lodi to make plastic fruit baskets and vacuum parts. But that all changed in 1955 when a Galt fruit company asked Woock to help them build a juicer. Though it was the fruit company that initiated the idea, it never was involved in the creation or production of the Champion Juicer.

The product Woock developed had an aluminum base with an outer shell of durable plastic, explains Doug Kirkle, Plastaket’s general manager of 16 years.

“[Plastaket] went for durability and quality, and they knocked it out of the park to create the best of the best — the champion,” Kirkle says.

Woock and his wife, Ruth, had two daughters who both married into the Trovinger family. The Trovinger brothers eventually came in to help Woock run the company, establishing a joint family legacy.

Russell Trovinger — who represents the third generation of his family to be involved in Plastaket and is the only one currently working there — manages research and development as the president of the board of directors. His father, Harry Trovinger, spent 54 years as general manager before retiring in 2004. Harry passed away in May.

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Carrot Delight juice, containing carrots, lemon, apple, and a touch of ginger, prepared with a Champion Juicer

Innovating the industry

When it first hit the market, the Champion Juicer was one of the first juicers on the market. Today, Kirkle points out, there are hundreds of juicers, but it’s the longevity of Plastaket’s design that keeps customers coming back.

“We have juicers that were built in the ’70s, and they’re still running,” Kirkle says.

The creation of the cold-press juicer called Champion Juicer 2000 inspired a lifetime of innovation and development as the gold standard in the industry.

“It’s really the only one left that’s made in the USA,” Kirkle says.

A masticating juicer, or cold-press juicer, crushes and chews the ingredients using an auger, which is said to extract more from the contents than its centrifugal counterparts.

The Champion Juicer features a General Electric motor and an aluminum base made by a family-owned company in Chico. The rest of the juicer parts and accessories are made in the same Lodi factory where it all began.

Over time, Plastaket has added accessories to the original Champion Juicer 2000 model, including a greens attachment and a grain mill for producing different types of flour. Both juicers also can blend and homogenize nut butters, baby foods, and frozen desserts made from bananas.

In 2016, Plastaket introduced the smaller Millennium 4000 juicer. Although the motor is the same, the Millennium specifically was designed to better process greens such as wheatgrass. This year, the Millennium 4000 was one of four juicers named Best Health Appliance by Canada’s National Nutrition, an online supplier of vitamins, supplements, and sports nutrition products.

Before it became the widespread phenomenon it is today, juicing mostly was sought after by people who needed to get their nutrition in the form of juice, such as people in treatment for cancer or with certain health problems.

The juicing trend really took off in the ’70s, and, at that time, Plastaket ran three shifts just to keep up with the orders. Today, with 17 employees, Plastaket ships 150 Champion Juicers per day, four days a week.

Plastaket’s finance executive, Nancy Chapman, says the company’s unique schedule is cost effective and enjoyed by employees.

“This helps to keep from passing down price increases to our consumers,” she says.

Everyone at Plastaket believes in and uses the product they’re creating. Chapman declares that anyone can find time for juicing.

“Once you have fresh juice on a daily basis or even a three-to-four-day-a-week basis, you’ll find that you feel better and look better,” Chapman says.

Kristen Lowrey Larson is a travel agent, freelance writer, and marketing consultant based in West Sacramento. As a travel agent with Artistico Travel Consultants in Folsom, she creates custom trips to help make her clients’ travel dreams a reality.

Resources

Champion Juicers aren’t just for producing your morning beverage. The restaurant industry has embraced the kitchen tool as a multipurpose appliance, using it to make a range of food items, from pesto to nut butters. Even your favorite bartender probably is using a Champion Juicer to create delicious craft cocktails. For details or to purchase a Champion Juicer, visit Championjuicer.com.

Recipes

Apple Cinnamon Juice

(courtesy of Championjuicer.com. Serves 1)

4 apples, cored (any variety)
2 celery stalks
1 cucumber, cut into spears
Pinch of cinnamon

For best results, chill fruit and vegetables prior to juicing. Juice apples, cucumber, and celery together into 1 cup or container. Stir in cinnamon and serve immediately or up to 24 hours after juicing.

Orange Sherbet

(courtesy of Championjuicer.com. Makes 2 small glasses)

3 oranges, peeled
2 pounds carrots
¼ green bell pepper
½ lemon, peeled
1 red delicious apple, cored

For best results, chill fruits and vegetables prior to juicing. Juice oranges, carrots, bell pepper, lemon, and apple together into 1 cup or container. Serve immediately, or within 24 hours of juicing.

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