A manufacturing company with eyes on the old Kmart building would become a top 10 employer in Lake Havasu City, according to Partnership for Economic Development CEO James Gray.

Premiere Manufacturing, Inc., based out of Corona, California, is looking to open a manufacturing facility in Lake Havasu City with plans to move its base of operations along with it. It has identified the former Kmart building as its targeted landing spot. Owner Ryan Busnardo said the company’s main product, the Nug Smasher, has been on backorder almost since the company started producing the machines about five years ago.

On Monday during a public meeting with surrounding property owners, Busnardo said his company has a little over $1 million currently on back order. So he is motivated to move forward with the new production facility as soon as the request to rezone the property from a Commercial Healthcare District to a Commercial Healthcare District-Planned Development is processed.

“I’m back ordered, so every day that goes by we lose money and we lose market share,” Busnardo said. “I’m trying to keep that market share, I’m racing the clock.”

The rezoning request is only for Lot 1 of the shopping center, which includes the Kmart building and its parking spaces.

Why Havasu?

Busnardo said he explored purchasing a building in East Vail, California closer to his operation in Corona. He was even in escrow for a time, before ultimately decided he didn’t like the location as it was surrounded by more than a million square feet of Google buildings.

He said he has been coming to Lake Havasu City since 1989, and owns a house in The Foothills, so he was already very familiar with the area. He said after speaking with Gray, he decided to pull out of escrow in California and give Lake Havasu City a try.

“There has been no financial incentives (from the city), although we have tried,” Busnardo said with a laugh. “But the tax advantage for us is the state and federal programs that we are taking advantage of. The big advantage, quite frankly, is the state tax savings for us.”

During the meeting on Monday, Gray also explained to the 27 people gathered that the company qualifies for an Arizona quality jobs tax credit due to the amount of money Premiere Manufacturing, Inc. plans to invest in the community – about $15 million according to a video shown during the meeting – and the amount the company pays its employees. The tax credit will provide $9,000 per employee, credited at $3,000 apiece for three years.

“I can’t think of a better spot to build my team. This is where I love to spend my time, and I love the people here,” Busnardo said. “It is a city and a community that I want to be more involved with. It is like when you have a worker that clocks in and goes through the motions, then you have a worker that is there 10 minutes before, they clock in, are excited about the job and they actually care. That is the feeling that I get from everybody I have really dealt with from the city so far.”

250 jobs

Busnardo said the company will likely have about 60 to 80 employees after the first 12 months of operating in Lake Havasu City, but the goal is to increase to about 250 workers within about four years.

Workers will includes a wide variety of job titles for both its advanced manufacturing facility, and to populate its company offices. In addition to assembly techs, welders, engineers, solder techs, and CNC machine operators, the company also plans to employ videographers, content specialists, graphic design artists, managers, shipping specialists, electricians and more once fully operational.

Gray said 250 workers would make Premiere Manufacturing a top 10 employer within the city.

Busnardo also touted the quality of jobs provided, saying the average weekly pay in the company, including executives, is $1,600 a week with the starting pay for starting employees about $16 an hour. He said he intends to pay the same high wages in Havasu as he currently does in Corona.

“I’m not looking to save money in labor – I have a highly profitable company,” he said.

Why the Kmart building?

Although Busnardo said he is excited to bring his operation to Lake Havasu City, several of the property owners gathered asked whether there may be a more appropriate location for the company that wouldn’t require a rezoning effort.

Gray said the largest building currently available in Lake Havasu City that is not also already zoned for retail is 19,000 square feet, less than one fifth of the size of the Kmart building, and not large enough to accommodate Premiere Manufacturing’s plans.

Busnardo said the company investigated several different options, including using the Kmart on a temporary basis while they build a new facility elsewhere, but using the former Kmart building was determined to be the best option available at this time.

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(30) comments

Hcarolyn

I would have rather seen them in a place over on College where Sterilite and other manufacturing currently exists than downtown. And yes while regular brick and mortar is going away our Walmart is always packed and a Target would be very popular in this town - our K-Mart didn't leave due to lack of business, they left because Sears had horrible management that destroyed the Sears brand and all that went with it, Mid-town was/is a perfect spot for a Target.

3toedwilly

[beam][thumbup][thumbup]

simon1dog

Light manufacturing belongs in a light manufacturing development area.

dimlantern101

The county will NEVER utilize this building as that would require spending money in Lake Havasu and not Kingman, which is against the rules.

Did any of you read the article? A professional real estate company has been unable to attract other retail investors and NEWSFLASH, in this current economic environment im gunna take a shot and say that outlook isnt changing very fast.

Is this so called manufacturing going to ruin the "allure" of downtown Lake Havasu? GIVE ME A BREAK.

Give people jobs and for once, just once, we have an employer in light manufacturing so we can diversify Havasu AWAY from retail and hospitality......

HavasuGuy

dim - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

lakelife37

We need a Home Goods or TJMaxx in that building! Not enough retail shops downtown. This would be a horrible idea from so many levels!

tomgarven

Well lakelife37 maybe we do and maybe we don't need those types of stores but I really don't know for sure. What I do know is that we definitely need to attract some companies which can provide a living wage for your young people.

Anyway I think there was a TJMaxx in the Target Mall in Bullhead. It closed for a lack of business. And my guess is that even if you divided the old Kmart space in half you would still have leftover square footage after both Home Goods and TJMaxx opened their stores. Isn't TJMaxx about the same size as a Ross Store?

I went searching with Google and it appeals to me that a whole lot of brick and mortar stores are closing around the country. I guess as an example someone could just say look at our own mall. It site with thousands of square feet of retail space available and no one seems to want to rent that space. And there are hundreds of malls around the country which are just like ours - nearly empty. People today really prefer online shopping. It is extremely hard for a brick and mortar type store to compete with a online shopping company which can deliver the product to you in from 1-3 days.

Anyway, here is a good article from Forbes which talks about why so many brick and mortar stores are closing. And as one of the articles about this company has stated the KMart building may be a temporary jumping off stop for this company if their growth plans pan out. I also believe that employee pay at brick and mortar stores is far lower than what is being offered by this company as a starting wage and our young people really need that. Here is the link to the Forbes article.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/marciaturner/2017/01/31/is-brick-and-mortar-obsolete/#19f39f7d37ce

Have a wonderful and safe day.

HavasuGuy

Tom - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Please don't confuse the naysayers with facts! [beam]

tomgarven

[wink]

Objective Dialectic

Although many of us want another retail store to take over that building, you need to think realistically. A lot of those big name retail stores simply don't see havasu as a viable option. We don't have the population they are looking for.

HavasuGuy

Objective - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

simon1dog

lakelife37 - [thumbup]

simon1dog

Judy B is right.

1502

The wages are low low. Sure hope our graduating kids do not get trapped into a low paying factory job.

tomgarven

Well maybe they are low or maybe they aren't. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for our area the starting wage seems about right. Sixteen dollar per hour is $640/week, or $2773 per month and $33277 per year. Throw a competitive benefit package on top of that for about another 20-40% and you are well above the starting salary of an Elementary School Teacher which is $37,080 at our school district. Here is the link to the Labor Statistics for our community.

https://www.bls.gov/regions/west/news-release/occupationalemploymentandwages_lakehavasu.htm

Make sure you scrowl down the page to near the bottom to see the starting salaries for many of the jobs in Havasu. As a tourism destination or community we don't pay our people very well do we?

Have a wonderful day.

HavasuGuy

Tom - I have seen the Bureau of Labor Statistic web page you've shared here before and I would hope that others in this town would look at it too, it is eye opening.

Is there anyone in this town that doesn't think that more manufacturing jobs are needed to add to our service industry based economy? This is a successful business that can ultimately support 250 employees. Relocating their business here will also include moving their headquarters here bringing highly paid employees and their incomes here too. All of which will add to our local tax base, another positive for Lake Havasu.

American business is changing, as you note, with more web based enterprises and American made small businesses being created. Lake Havasu should have open arms for this small business that proudly advertises it's "Made in America" label.

JudyB

There's a place for a manufacturing plant and the old Kmart building is not it. We need another Kmart alternative department store there!

tomgarven

You are correct JudyB. I sincerely wished we had an industrial area out by the airport area maybe. Heck I would even support the building of a new tilt up concrete building for this company since NONE exist there at the moment. But since I moved to this community over 20 years ago I have learned that MANY of our local business owners do NOT want the competition for our existing labor force from a company which pays better than they do. Remember when In-N-Out Burger wanted to move into town? Oh my goodness how some people screamed we are all going to go broke. Hundreds of complaints about how many businesses would close. Well that didn't happen did it and we still have a robust labor force in town, ha ha.

If this companies growth plans are as successful as they predict they have already stated the KMart building might just be a temporary stop over on their way to their own building someday.

But as far as more department stores in the KMart location I just don't see that happening. Retail brick and mortar stores are closing throughout our nation. Even JCPenny is closing 136 stores this year. Sears closed hundreds of locations the year before. All we have to do is just look at our own mall which for the most part sits almost empty in some sections. People are learning that just ordering what they want using their phone or their computer and having it arrive on their doorstep in 1 to 3 days is what shopping is going to become in the future. And a whole lot of people now really are hesitant about going shopping with the Coronavirus and it is not going away anytime soon. It will most likely be with us for generations since even when a vaccine becomes available, not everyone will get the shot - they just won't so it will probably be with us for generations but hopefully not as bad as now.

Stay safe Judy B.

HavasuGuy

Tom - Great point, I almost forgot how the naysayers screamed about In-N-Out was going to wreck our local economy. All In-N-Out did was supply good paying jobs for our college going young adults, the nerve of them!

HavasuGuy

Sure Judy, that would be nice but they have no interest in investing in a small town like Lake Havasu city, it is what it is...

pegymo

I would love to see more mfg businesses to come to Havasu. I just feel Mfg in our downtown area is not a good fit. With all the empty commercial buildings, including Hastings, why right down town, in our retail area? There is an industrial area in this town, and I would welcome them to look there.

CVA-42

You make a good point. I would prefer to see manufacturing companies located somewhere outside of the business district. The Hastings building would be better as there is a parking lot devoted entirely to that building,

HavasuGuy

Sorry but the Hastings building is not big enough for what they are looking for, did you read all of the articles about this business venture coming to Lake Havasu? They need the space of a building like the old Kmart building and it appears that no one else does either. Remember when nobody wanted Kmart to move to this same spot too?

tomgarven

Good idea pegymo but as you have noted - there are no buildings in our industrial section near the airport nor in any other section of our community with enough sq. feet of space to meet their needs if their growth happens as projected. But I would certainly support our city working with them to build a tilt-up concrete building with a competitive lease agreement for a company like this.

If the projected growth plans of this company are realized them that could certainly happen and then once again that would leave the KMart building empty. But for the moment at least it is the only building in town big enough to meet their needs.

Remember when we had chainsaw manufacturing in our community? It supported over 1000 jobs which paid worker a good wage. People bought more car's, more homes, more furniture and everything that goes along with a prosperous community.

Retail sales on the other hand do not usually pay enough to allow people to enjoy the accumulation of personal wealth. That usually takes climbing some type of corporate ladder of some type of manufacturing, engineering or financial company. It takes people who practice lifelong learning and move into jobs like those being offered by this company. Computer controlled machining, computer graphics and the production and testing of products for sale. All of this vs keeping the shelves looking good at a retail store. Which would you prefer for our young people?

I totally agree with your statement and would love to see us get behind this companies desire to become a part of our community.

tomgarven

I certainly hope this happens for our community. The Kmart building is perfect for his expansion plans and the products being manufactured. And the manufacturing process would certainly bring much needed technology and light manufacturing type jobs to our community. Everyone knows that retail brick and mortar stores are not our future. Technology and light manufacturing will become the bread and butter for most communities. When this happens and I sincerely hope it does, then just maybe many of our young people will find the greener pastures they are looking for right here in Lake Havasu City. It is a wonderful community to call home. And he is also correct that once the business becomes operational our workforce will be dependable and dedicated to his business. And there are no better workers in the world than an American worker.

The one position I did see missing from the line up of positions was Quality Assurance or Quality Control engineers and inspection personnel but that could certainly be lumped in under the engineering classification. If not, I would be happy to help ensure the quality of his product line.

albartos271

Tom, you are so correct. The city needs this

tomgarven

[beam]

tomgarven

[beam]

HavasuGuy

Yes Tom, it will be a "Made in America" business that will be good for Lake Havasu City, "the most patriotic city".

tomgarven

[thumbup]

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