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 you decide to establish Havelock Wool in Northern Nevada?
Andrew Legge: It seemed to me that small business in California, where I was living at the time, could be a real challenge. We knew that Nevada would be a better place to do business, and we have been nothing but surprised by the upside in our experience — and we started with lofty expectations. We are huge fans of doing business in Northern Nevada. We love the location. We love the potential for employees. And, frankly, we love how easy it is to work with the business community, whether it be EDAWN or the tax authority or the business licensing. It’s just a wonderful place to do business and we’re thrilled that we’re here.
Q: What is it about Nevada’s favorable tax climate that makes doing good business in the Silver State possible?
Legge: To be honest, it doesn’t have much to do with tax for us. It’s mostly how business-friendly the local community is all the way through to the governor’s office.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that’s changed about your company since first starting here?
Legge: I think we found our place in the revenue equation. I feel like, and this is all in the last couple years, more and more of the conversation across all industries is to talk to the people who make the product, they don’t want to mess with anybody in the middle, and we’re structuring our business, accordingly. We have a great relationship with distributors — we value them. Being in Reno, we can sell right out of our door quite easily across the Western U.S. and Mountain U.S. We’ve got some partners on the East Coast, but we’re constantly looking at how we can do better, get more material on the East Coast for more people to have access to.
Q: What kind of job growth has your company experienced since first starting here?
Legge: We’ve gone from a couple people up to 11. And to be honest, I’d like to be 15 to 20 by the end of this year. We would have more people now if we could find them.
Q: What levels of financial success has your company enjoyed since first starting / relocating here?
Legge: We’ve doubled our revenue the last three years. We’re just going to keep down that path and do the best we can to match production with demand.
Q: What opportunities for growth are on the horizon for your company here in Northern Nevada?
Legge: One is just plain old organic growth. The reason we started this business is this insulation market is $16 billion. Half a percent of that is $80 million — that’s my goal. And that’s a huge shift from where we are today, so the sky’s the limit for us. The last couple years have been really active, and that tells us that there really is a market out there. And we now spend all of our time trying to figure out how to reach more of it.
Q: What challenges, if any, does your company address when it comes to recruiting a strong local workforce that’s paid well and can comfortably live here?
Legge: I think it’s hard to find people and find where they are. We’ve been through a couple of temp agencies. The temp agencies are a good source for us but we’ve been struggling to find the right kind of people. We’ve just gotten involved again this year with the UNR internship program. I don’t know that you could usually attract a four-year undergrad student to working in the insulation industry. And I think the fact that we had a lot of people looking to be a part of what we’re doing is further proof that we’re addressing a shifting demand profile.
Q: If you could change anything about your decision to plant your flag in Northern Nevada, what would it be?
Legge: I wouldn’t change anything. We were in Sparks for four years, and there was an opportunity to buy a building south of the river. So, we’re in Reno and we love our facility. We spent almost a million dollars repurposing it and had a great time with the local community on that effort. There is no place I would rather be.