|The Work Right building next to Lampson Field in Lakeport, Calif., is slated to be the home of ARTon Products’ West Coast expansion. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.|
LAKEPORT, Calif. – A Virginia decorative glass company said Monday that it’s expanding its business to the West Coast, and will base its California operations in Lake County.
Arthur Roberts, whose family owns ARTon Products in Lively, Va., made the formal announcement Monday morning during a small gathering at the Work Right building, next door to Lampson Field.
ARTon Products produces specialty glass products for a variety of industries – including wineries and breweries, restaurants, health care clients, and universities and colleges. They also work with ceramics, plastics and metals, with single and multi-color imprinting services.
“Our business is a combination of craftsmanship, science and industry,” Roberts told Lake County News.
Earlier on Monday morning, Roberts reached a tentative agreement with Boeger Land Co. to buy the 67,000 square foot building, which includes 7,000 feet of office space and a 60,000 square foot warehouse and manufacturing area.
The plan, said Roberts, was to bring the building and the nearby industrial park back to life.
The building’s list price is $2.5 million, but Roberts said he had no comment on the terms of the agreement.
Roberts, who has been in the specialty glass business for 25 years, said the decision to come to Lake County arose from a meeting he and his family had with county officials and wine industry representatives in March.
That month, Alan Flora of the County Administrative Office and Supervisor Anthony Farrington joined a delegation that included Lake County Winegrape Association President Shannon Gunier, her husband Rick, and local business power couple Bill and Patti Brunetti on a trip to the Wineries Unlimited Trade Show and Conference in Richmond, Va.
The trip was made possible through a California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Grant, the commission reported.
|From left, Dan Boeger of Boeger Land Co., Arthur Roberts of ARTon Products and Matt Boeger of Boeger Land Co. reached a tentative agreement on Monday, August 6, 2012, for the sale of the Work Right building in Lakeport, Calif. The Boegers have owned the building for several years. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.|
The Guniers and the Roberts family first met about 10 years ago at a wine industry event. In March, the Guniers arranged to have the family meet with county officials and discuss the idea of having them come to Lake County.
Roberts initially wasn’t interested in coming to California, which compared to many other states has a much more expensive and highly regulated business climate.
Flora said he and Farrington were able to address Roberts’ concerns and also explain business-related incentives passed by the Board of Supervisors.
Those include development incentives and fee waivers the board implemented that became effective in January, Flora said.
As it turned out, ARTon won’t be able to use the specific incentives because the Work Right building has entitlements that remain in effect. He said he expects the county will waive the $230 fee for a minor modification to the specific plan of development.
“To me, the benefit in this case was not that we were able to specifically assist ARTon with these incentives, but that it showed him that we are business friendly and willing to work with him to make the venture successful,” Flora said. “Overall, I think this impression made the necessary impact.”
Flora said they also emphasized that it was important to have a presence in California when appealing to the wine industry.
He said the county is continuing discussions with ARTon to see if the company qualifies for funding from the county’s business loan program or if they can help find other funding sources to make the project come to fruition.
Roberts and his daughter, Lisa, came out and took a tour of the county, with the Brunettis and Guniers showing them around.
The family was won over and began producing a business plan and analysis to put the ideas in motion. Over the last five weeks, those efforts have come together.
“The good news is, there isn’t very much money needed,” Roberts said.
The county is working to assist Roberts in making connections in order to finish getting the funding in order. He said he’s meeting with an independent grant counselor on Tuesday.
If all goes according to plan, Roberts estimated the facility could have 10 to 15 workers in place at the start of 2013, with the potential to have as many as 50 employees when the facility is fully staffed.
The Work Right building, once staffed and under way, could double the current output of the family’s Virginia plant, which Roberts says puts out between 20,000 and 25,000 pieces of decorative glass each day, five days a week.
Lisa Roberts said their Virginia facility currently has about 30 employees in a 30,000 square foot facility.
“We’re kind of busting at the seams,” she said.
Lively, their base of operations, is a rural area, with similarities to Lake County, she added.
Like her father, Lisa Roberts thinks the fit is a good one. “It shouldn’t be too hard to get going.”
The bigger facility also is going to let the family think bigger when it comes to what they can do for their customers, Arthur Roberts said.
The equipment in the Lake County facility will be both state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly; he said their process is nonpolluting, with no waste stream, and uses about one-third the energy of traditional industry equipment.
Roberts said that if everything comes together, he and his family intend to have a home here and be involved in the community – he said they won’t be absentee owners.
He said Lake County’s prominence in the wine industry is growing, and it’s a good fit for his family’s business.
“I believe Lake County’s time has come,” he said.
Email Elizabeth Larson at email@example.com .
The Work Right building has 67,000 square feet available for ARTon Products’ expansion plans. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.