For Myers, it’s proximity to Oregon |

For Myers, it’s proximity to Oregon

John Seelmeyer

It’s a commonplace wisdom that East Coast and Midwestern companies often launch operations in Sparks and Reno because of their proximity to California.

For Myers Industries Inc., however, last week’s announcement that it’s reopening a manufacturing plant in Sparks reflects a different paradigm.

The company wants to be close to Oregon.

Myers Industries makes horticultural containers — black plastic pots and the like — that are used by greenhouses, growers of nursery stock and retail home and garden centers.

Oregon is home to a $1 billion annual horticultural industry, and Myers has struggled to serve Oregon customers effectively from its existing manufacturing locations, says Christopher Koscho, vice president and general manager of the lawn and garden segment of Myers Industries.

Another headache has been relatively high shipping costs to serve customers in Oregon and California from Myers Industries plants in the Midwest and South.

That led Myers Industries to reopen the Sparks facility, which it had closed in 2009 as part of a previous cost-cutting initiative.

The company had been trying to sell the 187,000-square-foot facility at 550 Spice Island, and Koscho said Myers at one point had been close to nailing down a sale.

But the long-vacant facility came back into play as part of a major reorganization of Myers Industries’ lawn and garden segment, which accounted for sales of about $206 million in 2012 for the publicly held company headquartered at Akron, Ohio.

The company announced in July that it was closing plants in Waco, Texas, and Brantford, Ontario, as part of the reorganization that also led to reopening of the northern Nevada plant.

The company is moving quickly to install equipment — it began arriving last week – and hire the 90 workers who will staff the plant when it begins operation later this year.

The reason for the rush? The busy season for sales of horticulture containers is late winter and early spring.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, which assisted Myers, said last week that the company might employ as many as 150 at the Sparks location within five years.

That’s dependent on sales growth, Koscho said.

EDAWN said the average annual wage of the Sparks operation will be $42,800. The first 45 positions filled by Myers in Sparks pay an average of $22.93 an hour.

With the growing sophistication of manufacturing since the plant was shuttered in 2009, Koscho said Myers now is looking for better-trained employees. That’s particularly important as the company increasingly uses recycled materials as feedstock for manufacturing and increasingly uses biodegradable materials that can be left in the soil after planting.

“We’re shifting from low skill to high skill,” he said.

But that hasn’t been a problem so far.

“The flood of resumes has been more than we expected,” the Myers executive said.

The company is working with Nevada JobConnect, Nevada Industry Excellence and Truckee Meadows Community College to recruit and train staff. Koscho said nearly all of the staff will be hired in northern Nevada.

Koscho praised the cooperation of NV Energy and City of Sparks staff as the company moves quickly to get the plant into operation.

Assisting the company, along with EDAWN, were the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and J. Michael Hoeck, a senior vice president and principal in the industrial properties group of NAI Alliance.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who made a personal pitch to Myers Industries executives as they scouted potential locations in the West this spring, called the company’s announcement “a major, major decision” for Nevada.

Mike Kazmierski, chief executive officer of EDAWN, said the decision by Myers Industries is another demonstration of the resurgence of the manufacturing sector in northern Nevada.

But he noted that more than 20,000 people remain jobless in Sparks and Reno.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” the EDAWN CEO said. “This is one step in a long path.”