Bob Thomas: To NNDA: I’ve got a deal for you!
“We need professional sales, not just marketing, to recruit companies.”— Gaius Phlebitus Rob Hooper, when you published your Northern Nevada Development Authority’s full-page ad in the Appeal, taking issue with my well-known position on economic development implementation, you suggest that I’m politicizing economic development. It’s always been political. I simply disagree with NNDA’s passive approach, relying on marketing. As the founder and CEO of a world-class high-tech company that is a division of Emerson Process, a Fortune 500 company, I know the most reliable method of recruiting companies into Nevada. Yes, we are well aware of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s actions in this regard but with all due respect, I am not impressed. I’ve heard that song before. While Gov. Sandoval was still in school, I was a legislator in the 1980s. Gov. Dick Bryan and I wrote Nevada’s first legislation creating a department of economic development. Our oversight committee members were Bryan, Lt. Gov. (soon to be governor) Bob Miller, a couple of other officials and me. What came of it? Nothing! Several governors have, for political purposes, flirted with economic development and at some point created committees but again, by my standards, the results have been pitiful compared with Carson City’s initial success in the 1970s, establishing and promoting its own industrial airpark.To answer your question as to how many jobs I’ve brought into our area, the following Carson City companies were either established by me, recruited by me, or encouraged by me to relocate here: 1) TBI (Thomas-Barben Instruments) — electronic instrumentation for pH control. TBI is now a division of ABB, the giant Swiss conglomerate, and after 15 years moved to South Carolina. 2) Comstock Aviation — aircraft storage for 35 airplanes, still here. 3) Southern Bolt and Screw — high tensile strength bolts and nuts used in offshore drilling rigs and after 20 years, moved to Phoenix. 4) Click Bond — a great hi-tech success story and is solidly here. 5) Universal Analyzers — air pollution analyzers, an outgrowth of TBI and still here. 6) Neurodyne-Dempsey — Medical electronics. Bought by Dynatech and relocated back East. 7) Micromanipulator — optical electronics for salvaging damaged microchips. Owner deceased and assets bequeathed to Cal Tech. 8) Electro-Mechano — large scale machined products, moved to Thailand. 9) Carson Manufacturing — proprietary disk files for IBM, owners deceased, assets sold. 10) Creative Manufacturing — tool and die engineering and manufacturing, still here. 11) MAFCO — originally Babcock & Wilcox — staging and repairs for power-plant construction tools, moved to Mound House. Mr. Hooper, it’s safe to say that I have directly created more than 200 jobs in Carson City, and indirectly more than 500. Now, regardless of our methodology differences I’ll make you a deal. If NNDA will hire two full-time highly professional, seasoned salespersons in California to spend their time calling on pre-selected, attractive companies, five days a week all year long, armed with appropriate sales aids for the purpose of selling Nevada directly to CEOs, one-on-one, eyeball-to eyeball, I will not only assist you for free, I will take the responsibility of qualifying the professional salespersons to be hired, as only a professional sales manager (which I am) can. And I’ll personally monitor their progress and analyze their weekly call reports. Moreover, I will help supervise the selection of compatible California companies to be targeted and will help create the sales aids.The Thomas Registers (no relation) are an excellent source to select the California companies that would meet our specifications. For example: 1) Companies that employ between 25 and 400 employees would fit comfortably with our available vacant factories or land, 2) Manufacturers of proprietary products are preferable to job shops, 3) High-tech companies with good track records for weathering recessions and 4) As large a variety of companies as possible in terms of product mix and capabilities. These are just some of the criteria that would be beneficial to Nevada.In the immortal words of Red Motley, founder of American Weekly Magazine, who was crowned the “World’s Greatest Salesman” by Sales Executives International: “Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something.” Mr. Hooper, it’s time we aggressively sell Nevada to California CEOs on their turf and on their terms.• Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is worldclassentrepreneur.com.