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  • Santa Maria: A Thriving Hub for Businesses Big and Small

    Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class Explores Business & Economics during February Topic Day

    Did you know that one Santa Maria Business supplies $30 million worth of cable to PG&E every year? Not only that but for two years in a row now, all of that cable had zero defects?

    In February, the Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2019 saw what incredible industry resides right here in Santa Maria. From the massive cables at Okonite to the twelve rotating taps at Naughty Oak, the class was introduced to many booming local businesses. The intention behind this month’s activities was rooted in understanding Santa Maria’s rich history of successful business, while also looking to the future to see what trends are emerging around town. Throughout the day, it became clear that this community offers many benefits to businesses large and small, young and established. 

    Take Okonite for instance. The company itself was founded in 1878. Its products were the cable of choice for the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, and powered Thomas Edison’s first underground electrical substation and grid with Okonite cables. For decades, the Santa Maria plant has been Okonite’s lone hub west of the Rockies. It employs more than 185 local workers in a 550,000-plus square-foot facility that sits on 50 acres.

    From big to small, the group learned how Santa Maria continues to provide opportunities for growing business. Pam Rowan is the founder of Coffee a la Cart, a mobile coffee service that’s expanding with a calculated growth strategy and a local-first mindset. She already runs coffee shops at Allan Hancock College and at Vandenberg Air Force Base with a special focus on bringing the highest quality drinks to her customers. Rowan’s next venture, Cups and Crumbs restaurant, is set to open in Old Orcutt in a few short weeks. 

    The class also visited Honda of Santa Maria and met the passionate team that is building a large, new complex of car dealerships near Enos Ranch. David Leroy and Fabian Zaragoza, General Managers of Toyota and Honda, showed their excitement about expanding their lots and the class got to see a sneak peek of what the buildings will look like.

    Annie Woo, Senior Vice President of Consumer Services at MindBody, pointed out that Santa Maria offers more stability for employers and has less turnover. Compared to the towns both north and south, Santa Maria has a strong focus on family and people tend to stay here longer. After receiving feedback from an engaged employee base that was already commuting from Santa Maria into San Luis Obispo each day, Mindbody brought a locally staffed customer service call center to town two years ago. 
    Her thoughts were echoed at Okonite, when Rick Flory, Plant Manager, noted that Santa Maria was the perfect location for the business because it’s centrally located in California. He also noted that the Hitching Post has aided in many sales! Just like Okonite, Safran’s Santa Maria Cabin Interiors produces products that are used all over the world. Formerly Zodiac Aerospace, workers at Safran’s local plant produce all types of airplane interior products from prefabricated overhead bins to locally pressed fiberglass surfaces. 

    The class took some time to enjoy some craft beer from local brewmasters at Naughty Oak. Steve and Emily Kitts from Naughty Oak were proud of how many partnerships they’ve made throughout the community, and stay true to their military roots by offering a “Coin Club” to members.

    Learn more about the Leadership Santa Maria Valley program at www.santamaria.com/leadership-santa-maria-valley. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, and online at santamaria.com/leadership-santa-maria-valley.

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