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Another View: Auburn-area firms flying high, earn top county awards

Another View
By: Tony Hazarian, Auburn Journal publisher
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Despite a lagging economy weighed down by lackluster home sales and sluggish job growth, Auburn and the foothills are alive with award-winning businesses. A trio of top businesses were celebrated at Thursday’s Economic Development Summit Breakfast, hosted by the county’s Economic Development Department. And to hear them say it, their location is key to future success. “I’m very excited to be at the Auburn airport,” said Robb Moore, CEO of ioSafe, which earned the private sector award for technology. IoSafe manufactures “disaster-proof storage” devices that can preserve data in spite of the harshest treatment, including extreme heat and fire, flood, pressure — even repeated shots from a rifle. “It’s a very interesting business,” said Moore, an engineer who repeatedly tinkered with materials and designs until he found the right combination. “When you combine the heat of electronics and an insulated box, you can end up with an Easy-Bake Oven.” A private pilot who flies on business to Southern California and other places regularly, Moore said he relishes making sales calls and “flying home in time for dinner.” More than that, however, the airport industrial park has allowed his business to expand, Moore said. Sales have grown 250 percent annually in the past two years, and his 26 employees recently moved into a larger, 10,000-square-foot space. “But to put that in perspective, we could grow at that rate for the next 10 years, and we’d only have 1 percent of the market” for data storage, he said. Nearby in the airport industrial park, TGH Aviation is experiencing similar growth, using a combination of commercial and defense contracts to provide components and repairs for jets and helicopters. TGH earned the Robert Weygandt private sector award. “This is an honor. It takes a team to build a company, and we have a great team,” said Richard Anderson, TGH president. Steve Williams, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, said earning a procurement certificate from the federal General Services Administration “played a key part in our success and helped us get to the next level.” In late 2010, TGH earned a General Services Administration contract valued at $6 million for safety enhancement for pilots in the Marines and Army, using Garmin portable aviation components to modify and improve night-vision goggle quality. In February, TGH earned three contracts from the Department of Defense to repair fuel-quantity indicators on the CH-47 helicopter for the U.S. Army, repair altitude computers on the Northrop T-38 and F-5 for the U.S. Air Force, and repair temperature indicators for the U.S. Navy. The contracts are valued at $1.5 million. A 180-degree turn from the high tech of the airport is the high touch of High-Hand Nursery, Conservatory and Gallery in Loomis, which earned the private sector award in agriculture. The complex along Taylor Road has become a food, art and entertainment destination under the ownership of Scott Paris. The business has earned numerous accolades from consumers and nonprofits that Paris has generously supported, but this award was certainly special, Paris said. “I think it’s important to tell the story of the community’s heritage and keep that story alive,” he said. “This gives me hope that we will be around a long time.” Thunder Valley Resort earned an award in the leisure and hospitality category for its hotel expansion and the United Auburn Indian Community’s longstanding investment in Placer County, while RobbJack Corporation of Roseville earned the manufacturing award. RobbJack makes premium commercial grade cutting tools, including saw blades, router and drill bits. A public sector award was given to the Westfield Galleria recovery team, a group of mall staff and Roseville city, county and law enforcement officials who collaborated in the hours, days and weeks after the mall fire to reopen portions of the shopping center and assist unemployed workers. Contact Auburn Journal publisher Tony Hazarian at tonyh@goldcountrymedia.com.