Northern Nevada manufacturers say education, education, education much as real estate agents say location, location, location.
That education-and-training message was trumpeted when a panel of area manufacturers and the moderator made it the centerpiece of their dialogue Wednesday. They did so at a breakfast meeting of Nevada Business Connections, a private economic development organization, in the Gold Dust West Casino.
“The biggest challenge for us is an educated work force,” said Ralph Johnson of Carson City’s EZE-LAP Diamond Products. The firm, which makes blade-sharpening devices, has 16 employees on Arrowhead Drive and boasts double-digit growth in recent years, Johnson said.
John Holliday of Aloha Medicinals, also on Arrowhead Drive, said the best thing his company ever did was move from California to Nevada. He joined the chorus for education and training.
“An educated work force is pretty important,” said the biotech company president.
He said his company makes a mushroom called Cordyceps that grows in nature out of caterpillars’ heads in the Himalayan mountains, but now can be duplicated by biotech methods without caterpillars. The result, he said, is an anti-rejection drug for transplant recipients. His firm distributes to 65 countries.
“So things are looking pretty good for us,” he said.
Dave Williams of Gardnerville’s Aervoe Industries, also known as Aervoe Pacific, joined with Collie Hutter, panel moderator and president of Click Bond in Carson City, to tout community colleges as collaborators with manufacturers in training future employees.
“The community colleges are the key — the two-year colleges,” said Williams, his firm’s chief executive officer. His products include paint, lubricants, cleaners, coatings and other things into which the company diversified to deal with the recent recession.
Hutter asserted manufacturers must lobby to keep community colleges viable.
“We have to be really fighting for our community colleges,” said the woman who is a driving force behind developing a trained Northern Nevada work force for manufacturing. The company she and her husband founded and grew to employ hundreds is making bonding devices for airplanes and other transport.
Panel members also said it is difficult to recruit top-flight personnel with Nevada ranked 47th nationwide in education.
Such prospective high-earning people want their children to receive good educations in public schools, the breakfast audience of more than 50 was told.
Ron McBroom of PAUGHCO Inc., which is in Carson City and Mound House, made the message unanimous. He said he needs certified welders, and education or training is important. PAUGHCO specializes in after-market parts for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The audience also heard from Sarah Adler, state director for rural development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
She discussed possible loan guarantees from her office for area businesses to get established or expand outside the capital city. She said Carson City firms can’t participate under her rural-oriented program because the city has grown to more than 50,000 residents.