Cascade finalizing Reno plans |

Cascade finalizing Reno plans

Steve Sinovic

Seattle-based outdoor-gear maker Cascade Designs will move about 100 jobs, nearly one-fifth of its workforce, to a new manufacturing and distribution facility in the Reno area as it seeks to keep costs down while expanding.

The privately held company confirmed its initial plans to the NNBW back in early March after news of its move was disclosed in the Seattle media and outdoor trade press. However, the official announcement came April 23 at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada board of trustees and major investor luncheon at the Atlantis Casino, Resort and Spa.

Cascade Designs makes outdoor sleeping mattresses and other equipment like snowshoes under various brand names, including Therm-a-Rest, MSR and Platypus.

Founded in 1972, the business owns seven separate brands, which it sells direct-to consumer and via retail partners such as REI, its biggest customer, said a company spokesman.

John Burroughs, chairman and founder of Cascade Designs, spoke to more than 50 guests at the EDAWN event and shared his company’s vision for the future and growth in northern Nevada.

“Reno was selected as the best site for expanding our operations where availability of large buildings, labor, housing, and outdoor recreation access were key factors in our decision to relocate.

“We also looked at Washington and Utah but Nevada came out on top,” said Burroughs.

The company will open a facility at Sage Business Park, 10990 Lear Blvd, Suite 100.

The company hopes to commence phased-in operations beginning this August.

We’re running out of space in Seattle,” spokesman Martin Maisonpierre said in a previous interview with the NNBW.

In terms of distribution, Reno is the perfect spot, especially access to California, which is the company’s single-largest retail market, said Maisonpierre.

Another concern is labor costs. Seattle employers are now required to pay to a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Labor costs add up, especially as Cascade competes with brands that rely on cheap overseas labor, Maisonpierre said.

The company will keep the bulk of its operations in the Emerald City where it owns a significant chunk of real estate south of downtown.

Some 300 to 350 Cascade employees will continue to work in Seattle.

“We want to remain a Seattle company,” Maisonpierre said.

By diversifying its operations, Cascade can “hopefully work on our manufacturing costs to where we can continue to add jobs in Seattle,” he said.

Many of the new positions in Reno will be on the more labor-intensive, less-specialized end of the spectrum.

A lot of the more complex, high-tech manufacturing will remain in Seattle, Maisonpierre said.

He said part of the reason Cascade is opening a facility in Reno is because it remains committed to U.S. manufacturing.

“What a perfect fit for Northern Nevada,” said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of EDAWN.

“Cascade Designs, a leader in outdoor adventure gear, will manufacture and distribute their products in a region that is known for incredible outdoor recreational opportunities.”

“In fact, Cascade Designs likely makes gear for most of the “1,000 reasons” touted by the Convention and Visitor Authorities’ tag line, “All Seasons, 1,000 reasons,” he said.

Several business partners that worked closely with the company and provided valuable assistance were CBRE, ITS Logistics, Nevada Industry for Excellence, Nevada JobConnect and NV Energy.

Manufacturing positions will be posted next month. Applicants should contact the Nevada Job Connect office for more information.