RENO, Nev. — Before the coronavirus pandemic pumped the brakes on the U.S. economy, Northern Nevada was on a roll.
Thanks to greater Reno-Sparks’ business-friendly climate, deepening talent pool, and access to a high quality of life, companies from across the country have been flocking to the region like clockwork over the past several years.
Though the growth stalled for a few months because of the COVID crisis, the economic engine is revving back up in Reno-Sparks as the state continues to gradually reopen.
With that in mind, the NNBW is checking in with CEOs of some of the companies that launched here, or migrated to the region, over the years to find out exactly why they chose Northern Nevada, and what opportunities and challenges they have faced since launching in Reno-Sparks.
Q: Why did ITS Logistics decided to establish the company in Northern Nevada?
Scott Pruneau: The first thing is the founders were all born and raised in Northern Nevada, and for their lives and their careers, they wanted to raise their families here. But, the second part of that is they thought there was a large opportunity in a very fragmented industry to grow a company in that region, specifically. Because Reno is really a centrally located western market — you’ve got overnight transit times to all the major metro areas in the west, low taxation structure, and the population even at that time was already starting to grow. Those factors also weighed into their decision.
Q: What is it about Nevada’s favorable tax climate that makes doing good business in the Silver State possible?
Pruneau: I think the first thing is you’ve got no personal income tax. So, it’s a great tool to use to attract talent, which we’ve been able to do over the years with not only people in the community — who we truly appreciate — but we can also bring folks in (from other areas). And the low corporate tax structure allows reinvestment strategies that help enable growth.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that’s changed about the company since first starting here?
Pruneau: The size and the scope. We’ve gone from three founders and one customer to now three succinct businesses under the umbrella with four locations in the area. And we’re probably going to produce about $300 million in revenue this year — maybe more. The other big things are technology has changed a lot — from data management to improvements in equipment and productivity to shipment and product visibility throughout the supply chain. As our company has grown and developed, all of those things have been initiatives in the supply chain market place that have pushed us to evolve along with it.
Q: What kind of job growth has the company experienced since first starting here?
Pruneau: We went from three founders and three employees, and as we approach the back half of 2020, we’ll have successfully transitioned from a founder-led company to a professionally managed organization. And when the year ends, we’ll have a little over 600 people.
Q: What levels of financial success has the company enjoyed since starting here?
Pruneau: We went from that first customer contract to now having in excess of $300 million of annual sales. We have an A-list customer base; best in class facilities and equipment; and people I’d put up against any company in our industry, regardless of size. We’ve been incredibly successful in all three of our business units.
Q: What opportunities for growth are on the horizon for the company here in Northern Nevada?
Pruneau: I think the cool part is the region is still growing and diversifying on a very rapid scale. I like to focus on manufacturing and technology and the investment the community’s making to draw world-class companies to the area. I think we’re also excited about the growth of the University of Nevada, Reno, and our partnership to drive top talent into our organization. We feel like everything that needs to be available to us in a market to achieve all of our goals is achievable right here in Northern Nevada.
Q: What challenges, if any, does the company address when it comes to recruiting a strong local workforce that’s paid well and can comfortably live here?
Pruneau: The biggest challenge that we have is finding qualified and safe drivers and keeping up with the demands of our growing distribution business. That business alone will probably have upwards of 250 people in it by the end of the year. We’ve increased pay multiple times over the last two years because we believe we continue to be a leader in the market for overall compensation. We’ve worked hard to continually improve our benefit offerings as well. I think once you get people in the door, we’re very intentional about living our values and supporting each other. This is an industry that requires you to be really connected 24/7, 365, and I think our values have been integral in achieving the success and adding and developing talent over the long term.
Q: If the founders could change anything about their decision to plant their flag in Northern Nevada, what would it be?
Pruneau: I can confidently speak for them in saying they are very proud to have planted their flag here and wouldn’t change a thing about that. But, having spoken to them, there are two things that they would have fought harder against that negatively impacted our industry, the market, and our company. First, there was a tax increase on fuel purchased in Washoe County that was presented as a 3-cents-per-gallon increase. It was actually 3 cents per year for 20 years, which makes things difficult for a fleet based in our area to compete with companies that don’t purchase fuel here. The second thing was the elimination of the supply chain logistics program at UNR. It was unfortunate considering how vitally important our industry is to the overall stability of the region and the growth and the traction of new companies to the area. For us, we would’ve done what ever we could to fight that decision and try to support and have that program remain at UNR.