August 26, 2009 > History: Jos Pearce Canning Company, Decoto, CA
History: Jos Pearce Canning Company, Decoto, CA
By Myrla Raymundo
Excerpt from the San Leandro News, Friday, September 27, 1935:
Cornerstones of Decoto by J. S. CLARY, Editor
"California as a whole has an added business advantage by having in its midst, a firm whose commendable policies and inherent honest dealings have gained for them an ever-increasing business.
"The prosperity of Alameda County is greatly increased by Jos Pearce Canning Co., located in Decoto, and their chosen field of endeavor brings new capital in the community. Through the extended trade channels of this active firm, many dollars are brought into this section.
"They started their business career upon a solid foundation, boosting all things, advancing business by operating the service upon a fair margin of profit, fair and honest business methods at all times. Excellent service to every patron has established for them a patronage that has extended to every direction from Decoto. All of these business assets have been the reason for their success, and with these methods in mind they have always been successful in business. Mr. Jos Pearce and his associates have always been consistent boosters for all things adding to the growth and prosperity of the community; knowing that a firm that did not possess solid business methods would soon wither and die."
The above excerpt shows how important and successful Mr. Jos. Pearce' business in Decoto was at the time. Pearce first worked at the Hunt Canning Factory in San Jose and started his canning company in l930. He could not pay workers in cash so he gave them script instead. The Pearce Cannery was the principal means of employment for hundreds of Decoto residents and surrounding towns during that time. In the economic depression of l929, many men lost their jobs. Hobos from all over the country rode the rails and some spent time under the Pearce warehouse. Pearce gave them canned goods for their sustenance.
Peaches came from Modesto and Merced and tomatoes, from Alvarado, Decoto, Hayward, Fremont, Centerville, Niles, and Warm Springs. Peaches picked during the day and night came by rail at 4 a.m. There were 350 men and women working for Pearce. All of the factory men came from Hayward and the women came from Hayward and Decoto. The men picked up the women on their way to work. They fixed the machines in the morning and then were ready to work. The season was over in November so they cleaned everything and got ready for spring.
Jos Pearce dressed up as Santa Claus on Christmas day, filled stockings for the kids and gave bonuses to his workers, even if a worker only worked for a day.
On January 4, l937, a fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Joe Pearce Canning Company. Chief Roland Bendel of the Decoto Fire Department, assisted by the Niles and Centerville departments, confined the blaze to the old warehouse and prevented damage to the portion of the building containing the canning machinery. 35,000 cases of canned goods were destroyed, along with the 130-foot square corrugated iron building. The loss was partly covered by insurance. Firemen worked for nearly three hours before the fire was extinguished.
The canning factory stopped operation in 1945 but many people from the Decoto area and neighboring cities will always remember Jos Pearce.