Changing tempo: Storey County and TRI Center prepare for change with retirement of team leader
May 1, 2017
Many have contributed to the success of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center since it began in the early 2000s, but one person in particular has set the tempo of progress from concept to world recognition.
Dean Haymore, director of building and community development for Storey County, has ushered the development from sagebrush hills to becoming the place where technology giants like Tesla, Panasonic, Apple, Switch, and now Google have room to dream big; and distribution giants like Wal-Mart, Pet Smart and Zulilly can grow.
Haymore isn't as recognizable as Lance Gilman, the developer of the industrial center, but his influence is significant.
If Gilman is the front man for the TRI Center band, Haymore is the drummer that sets the beat.
As the TRI Center is reaching an exciting crescendo, Haymore sees it as a good time to retire. His last official day with the county is June 30.
"I'm having nightmares," Haymore told the NNBW during a recent tour of the TRI Center. "I love doing this."
But after 30 years, he said it's time to slow down and spend more time with his family, his wife of 42 years, Roberta, four children and 12 grandchildren.
"I believe I'm the luckiest man in the world; an amazing career," he said. "I'm very thankful."
Haymore is known as a hard worker who will do what it takes to get a business up and running, whether it's watching a concrete pour at 2 a.m., flying to Illinois to watch a company's operations and meet with engineers, or spending long hours examining plans so construction can start on time.
"I don't think I go the extra mile, I just think I try to do it right," Haymore said.
For Haymore, "right" includes operating the planning department more like a business and streamlining the process.
For instance, TRI Center is zoned for heavy industrial, so almost anything can go in without needing to go through a time and money consuming rezoning process.
The county also has an office in the TRI Center to easily meet with business officials visiting the center. Large companies are allowed to use portions of it for training and offices for a period of time rent free, in exchange for providing upgrades to the facility.
"We (in Storey County) do some unusual things nobody thinks about that really make the deal," said Haymore, who began working for the county June 8, 1987.
Pat Whitten, Storey County manager since 2005 and an employee of the county since 1999, agreed.
"We do things differently. That's what we all do in Storey County," Whitten said. "You can and should act as close to a business model as you can. Never forget public safety, but helping business benefits everyone."
Quoting Haymore, Whitten said, "We really hate government. It's a job we've got to do, but we can make it easier."
Marc Siegel, principal with SJS Commercial Real Estate, Inc., said Haymore will be missed. SJS is the developer of the Gateway Commercial Center in the TRI Center and also has projects in the Midwest, Florida and Colorado.
Haymore and the Storey County development team "have an incredibly user and tenant friendly operation," Siegel said, "coupled with a commitment for design and safety.
"They get things done. … When issues come up (Haymore) takes a positive approach to resolve the issues."
Today, Haymore and Storey County have created a harmonious match, but it's not the tune he expected to be playing.
Haymore grew up in a farm family in California's north Sacramento Valley. The 12th of 14 children, he learned to work hard from an early age and to believe deeply in his Mormon faith. As a young man, he began as a dairyman and farmer, working 18 hours a day — that is, until his new wife, Roberta, put some balance into his life.
Then, in 1984, an accident changed everything when a truck ran over his legs. After recuperating, he went back to school and earned a degree in construction technology from Butte College.
Haymore was offered a job in Simi Valley for $89,000 per year. But when he discovered studio apartments in that Bay Area town were going for $1,800 a month, he couldn't see raising his growing family there.
The next day, he came to Storey County, where he took a job with a starting salary of only $18,600.
The tiny county was struggling to make ends meet.
"I realized Storey County couldn't survive on tourism and prostitution," Haymore said.
His non-bureaucratic mindset found its place.
He recognized an untapped asset was the county's expansive open land that could be developed.
Haymore tells the story of encountering a group of men on a hill overlooking what is now the TRI Center. One of the men commented that it would be a great place for an industrial center, something Haymore was also contemplating. He took the group for a dirt-road ride around the land.
Later, he found out the man who spoke was the head of the Mars food empire. The company subsequently constructed a pet food manufacturing plant in the area, the first of many companies to catch the vision.
Before it could be constructed, access was needed. Haymore did much of the foot work for the county to lobby for an interchange from Interstate 80 and a bridge over the Truckee River. While many state officials considered it, essentially, a bridge to nowhere, enough caught the vision to make it happen.
Lance Gilman and his partner Roger Norman also caught the vision and purchased what was once unused ranch land to create the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, which incorporates two-thirds of Storey County in an area larger than Reno and Sparks combined.
But it was the Storey County development policies, created during Haymore's tenure that made the area particularly attractive to manufacturing, distribution and more.
When Gilman sat with representatives of Tesla, Haymore sat next to him with permits ready and assurances that site plans would get a speedy review. The company gave them 15 minutes, then spent two hours looking at specifics.
"We didn't understand the impact Tesla would have. It's been a tremendous impact for northern Nevada and Storey County," Haymore said. "What has come about because of Tesla is just amazing."
Before Tesla, Haymore and the county had a lot of learning to do and the training ground was Wal-Mart, the first major development.
"That's how we learned how to fast track," Haymore said. "The Wal-Mart plans filled a FedEx truck."
Nevertheless, Wal-Mart was able to go from digging dirt to moving trucks in 180 days. Today, it operates a 400,000-square-foot dry goods warehouse and 600,000-square-foot fresh and frozen warehouse on 141 acres of concrete.
After that, the county went to an electronics system. Officials can communicate with engineers in Japan and architects in the Midwest to quickly bring issues into tune.
With the stage set, the county is preparing for change.
Part of that is the opening later this year of USA Parkway, which will connect the TRI Center with U.S. Highway 50 in Silver Springs and shave off 25 miles from the commute Haymore will no longer be making.
Haymore gave the county a long notice to get ready for his departure. He commends his team and feels confident the tempo and policies he has begun will continue.
County Manager Whitten said the county been preparing for the inevitable.
The county is "pretty well dialed into a plan," Whitten said, but not yet ready to discuss it.
"Our mandate is to not dilute or diminish in any way what our community development department has done so well," Whitten added.