Mark Anderson left Carson City more than three decades ago with thoughts of becoming a sportscaster, but this year returned as a top executive in advanced manufacturing.
Anderson, a 1984 graduate of Carson High School, now is the general manager of human resources and general affairs with Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America (PENA). He was lured last year to consider a Panasonic post, which he took in early 2015. He came back from Indiana, is living temporarily with his parents in Carson City, working out of Reno, and is arranging for his Hoosier family to join him later.
“I left here when I was 18 years old and really thought there would never be an opportunity to come back,” he said at PENA’s temporary offices in the Reno City Hall building. He said the Tesla Motors/Panasonic Energy combination at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) east of Reno is an exciting challenge after his 23 years in the automotive industry elsewhere. He came on board after years with a Japanese auto manufacturer in America.
“The project is an unbelievable project to be involved with,” said Anderson. “I think gaming and tourism will always be part of our heritage in Northern Nevada,” he said, but he views this venture as part of diversification that can become even more significant. “I hope that what we’re doing here now is the start of something bigger for Northern Nevada.”
Anderson’s background makes him appear tailor made for his post working with PENA President Masa Kitabayashi and a team now numbering more than 40.
As a Carson High teen, Anderson played hoops, as well as wrote articles about and served as a radio broadcast color man involving Carson High basketball games. After graduating, he went to Brigham Young University intending to build his broadcasting experience into sports announcing work, but Japanese captured his interest. It set him on a different course. He attended BYU in 1984-85, then did his Mormon mission trip to Japan.
He was there from the autumn of 1985 until early 1988, then returned to BYU and completed his undergraduate course work with a major in Japanese and a minor in international relations. While at BYU he met and later married his wife, Susan. They moved on and he earned a masters in business at Indiana University.
The Andersons now have four children: twins Ben and Elizabeth, 20; Joshua, 17; and Lauren, 11. The family will continue in Indiana and Mark will fly back periodically for visits until Joshua graduates from high school, but Lauren will wind up doing middle school and high school studies in Nevada. Anderson in the meantime enjoys staying temporarily with his folks, Jim and Jan Anderson, who still reside here.
The Panasonic executive said his dad worked in real estate appraisal and related fields; his mom taught English. An added bonus of returning is brothers Chris and Scott still live in Carson City with their own families.
Anderson praised the Tesla/Panasonic partnership for pioneering and advancing electric vehicles, saying the two firms, while different in some ways, aren’t really that different in they have similar business approaches in both mission and goals. He said Panasonic is a people-oriented firm with values that resonate with him. He said Tesla is entrepreneurial and looks to build an energy efficient future, a goal the pair of firms share.
“They’re doing things that a lot of people thought were impossible,” Anderson said of Tesla. When the so-called gigafactory at the TRIC is at full production, he said, the need for an estimated 6,500 workers there means people with proper credentials, backgrounds and skills must be found and so both his team and Tesla are tackling challenges in mustering human resources.
“It’s really hard to find people,” he noted, taking the opportunity to tout advanced manufacturing as an interesting and well-paid career option with “incredible job security.”
To that end, a Tesla vehicle is going to be in the upcoming Nevada Day parade, and he’s working with both Western Nevada College and Dream It Do It of Northern Nevada to spread the word. The goal is to tell the next generation of workers about such opportunities. Anderson said the Tesla/Panasonic partnership will need white collar workers like him, as well as engineers and skilled workers able to handle the challenges of modern, advanced manufacturing.