Five local businesses and the team that spearheaded the Westfield Galleria at Roseville Shopping Mall’s recovery from a devastating fire last fall were honored by the Placer County Economic Development Board at its 20th annual breakfast summit Tuesday.
More than 200 people attended this year’s summit at Sun City Roseville. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Partners in Prosperity.”
Each year, the board presents awards to recognize public and private-sector contributions to the county’s economic well-being.
The Dr. Gerald Angove Public Sector Award was presented to the Westfield Galleria at Roseville Mall Recovery Team. The team was made up of long list of employees from the mall, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, the city of Roseville, Placer County agencies and federal and state agencies involved in the recovery effort.
The award is named after its first recipient, a former president of Sierra College.
The five businesses that won private-sector honors are:
TGH Aviation of Auburn, the Robert M. Weygandt Private Sector Award;
High Hand Nursery of Loomis, the Private Sector Award for Agriculture;
ioSafe Corp. of Auburn, the Private Sector Award for Technology;
RobbJack Corp. of Lincoln, the Private Sector Award for Manufacturing; and
Thunder Valley Casino Resort of Lincoln, the Private Sector Award for Leisure and Hospitality.
Robert M. Weygandt, a member of the Placer County Board of Supervisors since 1995, is a long-time member of the Economic Development Board and was the first recipient of a private-sector award almost 20 years ago when he was a top officer and part owner of WECO Aerospace Systems, an aircraft repair facility.
The Economic Development Board is an advisory board that assists the county with its business attraction and retention efforts. It promotes the creation of new jobs and tax revenue and supports tourism, agribusiness, film production and workforce development initiatives.
The EDB has elected-official representatives from Placer County; the town of Loomis; and the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. The board also includes members who represent agriculture, education, utilities, manufacturing, tourism and healthcare.
Formerly known as The Gyro House, TGH Aviation is an industry leader in the repair and installation of aviation instruments. Established in 1957, the company moved to Auburn in 1972 and has continued to contribute to the local economy.
Recently, TGH remodeled an old hangar at the Auburn Municipal Airport, which increased the company’s repair capacity and included a state-of-the-art flight systems laboratory.
TGH makes it a point to hire local residents, investing time, effort and resources in training employees for long-term careers. Through its relationships with general aviation, commercial, corporate, rotorcraft and military clients, TGH has publicized Auburn around the world.
“They are most proud of providing night-vision GPS systems currently deployed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, saving the lives of U.S. military personnel,” explained Dave Bond of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
TGH President Richard T. Anderson and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve Williams were in attendance to accept the award.
“Being a global leader in flight systems support, TGH has publicized Auburn around the world,” Williams said.
HIGH HAND NURSERY
Located on the grounds of the historic High Hand fruit sheds, the business features a high-end nursery, restaurant that specializes in locally grown foods and an art gallery.
High Hand was recognized for serving as a destination that draws visitors to Placer County from throughout the region and for its selfless contributions to its community. It landscaped the community’s historic train depot, Chamber of Commerce and Fire Department.
“High Hand has become a regional attraction for hundreds of people on a daily basis,” said Loomis Councilman Miguel Ucovich.
He noted that the business serves as a focal point for the community’s downtown business district and is a great symbol of the community’s character.
High Hand also is among the top producers of sales tax revenue in Loomis and provides quality jobs to its 60 employees.
Owner Scott Paris was on hand to accept the award.
A high-tech startup based in Auburn, ioSafe manufactures disaster-proof computer hardware. Its products are built to protect data during floods, fires and other emergencies.
“They exemplify Placer County technology and entrepreneurism at its best,” Auburn Councilman Mike Holmes told the gathering.
ioSafe Chief Executive Officer Robb Moore, one of the breakfast’s featured speakers, reported that his company grew by 250 percent from 2009-10 and expects to maintain that growth rate this year.
The company’s customers range from the U.S. Army, Navy, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and home consumers.
Moore has used guerrilla-marketing techniques to garner attention from print, Internet and television media outlets, including such well-known media as the Wall Street Journal, ABC and the Discovery Channel.
The employee-owned business manufactures premium rotary cutting tools.
“RobbJack is a 100-percent employee-owned business and currently employees 80,” explained PG&E Account Executive Chuck Heisleman, the person who nominated the company for its award.
“RobbJack is partnering with Sierra College and has had great success in transforming their operation with lean manufacturing.”
Lean manufacturing is a strategy oriented toward increasing value-added work by eliminating waste and reducing incidental work. It is designed to radically increase profitability, customer satisfaction and employee morale.
Heisleman emphasized the company has a well-earned reputation for consistently providing superior-quality products.
President Dave Baker accepted the award, noting that his company has been in Placer County for more than 20 years. “We’re very happy to be here,” he said.
THUNDER VALLEY CASINO RESORT
Located in an unincorporated area between Lincoln, Roseville and Rocklin, Thunder Valley was honored for its contributions to the local tax base, the many jobs it provides and its extensive contributions to community projects.
“They’ve really made a decision to invest in this county,” said Doug Elmets, a spokesperson and representative of the United Auburn Indian Community, the casino’s owner. “It’s really great to be recognized.”
Thunder Valley was honored largely for an expansion and remodeling project completed last year that included a 17-story hotel with 297 rooms, entertainment facilities and a parking structure with 3,700 spaces.
To accommodate the expansion, Thunder Valley has hired more than 700 new employees to join its pre-existing workforce of about 1,200 employees.
Thunder Valley also was praised for generous contributions through grants and services to many community organizations.
THE WESTFIELD GALLERIA AT ROSEVILLE MALL RECOVERY TEAM
Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci presented the award at Thursday’s summit breakfast, emphasizing that the team went above and beyond the call of duty to quickly get the Westfield Galleria mall on the road to recovery after a devastating fire.
“Working tirelessly, the team made it possible for the opening of one major tenant and 40 other stores by Oct. 27,” she explained. “That was six days following the fire.”
She noted that most of the mall’s stores are open now, and emphasized the team’s outstanding efforts to minimize the fire’s economic impacts.
Many city of Roseville departments were instrumental to the recovery effort. For example, the Electric and Environmental Utilities Department was onsite immediately to address utility issues. The Public Works and Police departments helped reduce traffic impacts in and around the mall as cleanup began. A satellite office was opened in the mall parking lot, allowing Building Division and Fire Inspection staff to expedite the permit process. City Departments made the mall a top priority and had dedicated staff for the recovery effort.
Placer County staff opened a satellite office and offered special office hours to provide immediate access for mall employees who needed to file for unemployment insurance. The Roseville Chamber of Commerce coordinated the many offers of help from the community for the affected businesses and employees, including discounted services and cash donations.
The mall is Roseville’s second largest producer of sales tax revenue behind only the Roseville Automall and employs about 3,500 people.