Cristi Cristich and her husband, John Milazzo, long dreamed of the day they would leave the rush of life in Anaheim behind and retire to the Carson Valley.
Cristich, founder and chief executive officer of Cristek Interconnects, hastened her plans to move to northern Nevada by deciding to relocate company headquarters and operations to Minden or Carson City. Cristich is still scouting locations but expects to have limited operations running by summertime.
The company, which makes high-performance electronic connectors, cables and electro-mechanical assemblies for the aerospace and defense industries, expects to employ 90 by the end of its three-year plan, Cristich says.
Cristek Interconnects is one of five companies that are relocating to Douglas County or Carson City and bringing scores of new jobs with them, the Northern Nevada Development Authority announced last week. Among the relocations:
• Eastbiz, a mail-forwarding and shipping company for people who live overseas and do business with American companies that don’t ship internationally. Eastbiz leased 88,000 square feet in Minden and expects to employ 50 to 60 workers after two years of operation.
• Franklin Armory, which makes firearms for restrictive jurisdictions such as California. Franklin expects to employ between 10 and 20 people within its first year of operation.
• Global Aqua Solutions, a manufacturer and distributor of chemical products used for odor control, cleaning and degreasing that are used in a wide range of industries. Running at full capacity, the company expects to employ 15 at its facility on Precision Drive in Minden.
• American Impact Sprinkler Co., which manufactures high-quality brass impact sprinklers for agricultural uses from its facility on Arrowhead Drive in Carson City. American expects to hire six new employees this year.
Cristich says her firm is working with Cole Smith of Sierra Nevada Realty Group to find a suitable location.
“We are very flexible — we could lease for a while and then build something, or we could find something suitable to buy,” Cristich says. “There are quite a few options.”
The presence of an well-developed aerospace cluster in Carson City, along with the region’s well-trained workforce — and its favorable tax environment — were primary factors in the company’s expansion plans. Cristek Interconnects will keep its presence in Anaheim, and it also operates a second facility at Lowell, Mass.
The company’s main markets are top-tier defense contractors who manufacture missiles, satellites, weaponry and avionics equipment.
“The fact that there are some other peer manufacturing entities and a supply chain available was an important factor,” Cristich says. “Part of our due diligence involved making sure there was enough infrastructure in northern Nevada to support our businesses, and there is a solid community of manufacturers.”
Cristek Interconnects expects to relocate between 10 and 15 employees from Anaheim, especially those with crucial operational knowledge who could help jump-start the new northern Nevada facility. The rest of the workforce will be hired locally, Cristich says. Its biggest need is for CNC machine operators.
Cristek Interconnects has a number of internship programs in place with community colleges and universities in the Anaheim area to train mechanical and electrical engineers, and Cristich says she plans to partner with Western Nevada College and University of Nevada, Reno to make similar internship positions available locally.
The company last week also was approved for Catalyst Funds by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Cristek Interconnects will receive $200,000 over three-and-a-half years. The company will spend several million as it expands to the region, especially if it purchases its own building, Cristich notes.
“We are investing in Nevada, and Nevada is investing in us,” she says.
“I have been doing this almost 30 years, and as entrepreneur to be able to bring a business to a small community and make positive impact is very rewarding,” she adds. “Business is not all about making money.”