Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about EDAWN and what you do.
Stan Thomas: EDAWN is a private-public partnership that was put together to help grow the economy here. It started through WIN, Western Industrial Nevada. We are bringing in new companies and good-paying jobs, and it is diverse. It is not just distribution jobs; it is manufacturing, back-office operations, data centers and software companies. Our job here is to create and hold onto jobs. I go out and market the area for new companies coming in. If there is a company that is here that is in a competitive position where we could lose it or they are looking to expanding into another state, I get involved. Whatever I do, if it doesn’t create jobs I don’t do it. That keeps me focused.
NNBW: How did you get into this?
Thomas: I got transferred up here from California with UPS. My last two years with UPS we created a company called UPS Properties, and we started developing not only here at Vista Boulevard but also across the country. I got the bug — I got to do all kinds of marketing and trying to recruit companies in our buildings on Vista Boulevard. Later the power company came looking, and I worked there for 13 years doing economic development for the whole state.
NNBW: What are the main tools you’ve put in your toolbox over the course of your career that really lend themselves to success in your current position?
Thomas: What I have learned in this business is that you can’t take things personal. Some companies are moving fast and need information quickly, and you have to respond quickly. It is such a competitive industry that how you differentiate yourself between different states and other economic development people is by how quickly you respond to them and the quality of information you give to them. I am very passionate about seeing this community grow and creating jobs where our kids can stay in the community when they come out of college.
NNBW: When you talk about Nevada to prospective companies, what are your favorite things that you like to tell them about this state?
Thomas: It is a community. I bumped into the Governor at Costco on a Sunday shopping. You can see the mayor and business leaders at a ball game or business events. You have access to people. It’s also a great place if you enjoy the outdoors. On the business side of things, it is the tax structure, and the logistics advantage where we can cover 11 western states with one-day ground service.
NNBW: What company did you have to work the hardest to bring here?
Thomas: There was a company called Craftsman Press. It took me about four to five years to finally get them here. But the hard ones are really rewarding.
NNBW: During the recession years we saw a lot of companies leave the area. What strategies did you put into play during those difficult economic times to retain and lure new companies to the region?
Thomas: We got a little bit more aggressive and started doing some direct mail to companies in California. We knew that there were some new laws coming in California in 2012 and knew why people wanted to get out of California. We increased our marketing in California and hired an outside group to set one-on-one meetings with small- to medium-sized manufacturers headquartered in California.
NNBW: What can we expect from EDAWN in the future?
Thomas: This September I’ll be in Southern California with the heavier manufacturers, big, big employers that I’ll be face-to-face with. In February I’ll be in Silicon Valley meeting with software companies, more of the back-office operations. We might not get the software design side of the house, but your accounting, finance departments, I think we have a really good shot at landing some of those. I have laid out my travel schedule for the next year, and I know where I am going to be.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Thomas: I was a paperboy for the Roseville Press-Tribune.
NNBW: What’s your dream job? Why aren’t you working it?
Thomas: I really enjoy the development side of things. I’m having fun right now, and there is a purpose here that gets me excited every morning to come to work, but I love the development side. I love to see dirt turn into buildings and turn into jobs.
NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Thomas: My dad told me, “Passion goes a long ways, and a passionate person will never be without work. Whatever you do, be passionate about it and everything else will come together.”
NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?
Thomas: I love to play golf and exercise. I exercise most days. I love to eat, and I enjoy wines. I also am very involved in my church, Horizon Christian Church.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Thomas: I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Thomas: Nope. I don’t think I’ll ever retire. When I was with UPS, I took a year off between jobs, and I was so bored six months into it. I can’t sit still; I have to be doing something and stay busy.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Thomas: To spend at least 10 days by the ocean with a couple of championship golf courses close by. Taking a nap every day, reading and cooking dinner every night. That would be a perfect vacation for me.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Thomas: I walked away from a good career to stay here in Nevada. UPS tried to move me to the East Coast, New Jersey. I love the quality of life, the outdoors, the weather, clean air, plenty of golf, proximity to Napa-Sonoma and the wine country in California. It is a community here. I’ve had opportunities to take jobs elsewhere and I’ve stayed. You can do so many things. In the month of February I’ve played golf in the morning and skied in the afternoon. How many places can you do that? Northern Nevada is friendly, and you can meet just about anybody. It’s been a great place to raise my family, and I have no plans on leaving the state; I love it.
Know someone whose perspective you would like to share with NNBW readers? Email reporter Rob Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 775-850-2146.