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Company bringing 40 jobs to Port Orchard
Mark Sparks is a Washington native and when looking to relocate his company, it was one of six western states he examined.
But the people of Kitsap County and their attitude was one of the deciding factors why his company is relocating here from California.
“It was the people’s can-do attitude of the Northwest,” Sparks said. “We were received very well by everyone we interacted with. That was a convincing factor for us.”
Sparks is bring his aerospace parts company to Port Orchard.
Omohundra Company, which designs, manufactures and tests composite hardware for the aerospace and defense industries, will look to hire at least 40 workers at its new location.
The company is moving from Tustin, Calif., a suburban city located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The current facility is more than 40,000 square feet and employs about 45 people.
The 50-year-old company — owned by Sparks and his wife, Cynthia, since 1995 — will move into a 34,445-square foot facility in the Port Orchard Industrial Park, which was the former home of Leader International Corp.
During a recent visit, Sparks met with a member of the city council, the city’s Building Department and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue officials while researching what it would take to relocate here.
Sparks said the Kitsap Ecomonic Development Association (KEDA) was helpful in making its decision.
KEDA Executive Director John Powers said Sparks feels he can take his business to the next level because of the workforce, quality of life, robust aerospace-friendly environment and economy.
“They found us,” Powers said. “They did their search and look at a variety of states and communities. When they looked at us, they see what we have to offer.”
He said KEDA helped provide Sparks with information to help him make a “well informed” decision.
“Mark has a lot of technical expertise with composite materials in the aerospace industry,” Powers said. “He’s going to be able to have a better workforce pool to choose from because of the training provided at Olympic College and the region.”
Powers said Kitsap County is an idea market for aerospace manufacturing companies.
“We can be home to these types of companies,” he added.
Sparks said several people were helpful in his decision to move his company.
Sparks said Greg Millerd, a commercial realtor with Cushman and Wakefield of Seattle, helped to find a building suitable for his operations.
“It’s not easy to find 40,000 square feet of space in Kitsap, but he did it,” Sparks said.
Sparks said Jim Hein, of Jenning Hein Associates of Poulsbo, advised him about the buildings and retrofitting it for the company’s operations.
“All the people who help us have an attitude I miss — ‘Let’s get this thing done,’ ” Sparks said.
Training under way
Sparks said his company hired nine people from Kitsap County who now are training at the California location.
“They came down here with their cars packed and on motorcycles,” he said. “Some of them are young kids out of the college program and others who have changed careers.”
Sparks said in September the company will have half of its operation in Port Orchard and by December he’ll hire about 40 workers.
Sparks said one of his key managers and contractors are at the Port Orchard location.
He said there is some major renovation needed in the building, but because it was a manufacturing building the infrastructure meets the company’s operational needs.
“We’re not wasting any time,” he added.
Sparks’ long-term plan is to close the California facility and move the entire operation to Port Orchard. About 25 percent of his current workforce will relocate to Washington, he said.
Sparks said his company needs people with composite manufacturing experience, programmers and machinists, CAD tool designers and drafters — all being trained at Olympic College.
“It’s exciting for us that all this training is at Olympic College,” Sparks said.
“I’d difficult for us to get some of our niche trades down here in California.”
He said his company also will need professional services.
Spark, 45, and his family, which including two teenage boys, is looking for a home in the Port Orchard area.
“Kitsap County has a great quality of life and with all the activities on the peninsula,” Sparks said. “There are wonderful things for families in Kitsap County and Seattle is not too far away. Kitsap is a beautiful place and a great location.”