Cathie Anderson

Insights into the people who shape Sacramento’s business landscape

Cathie Anderson: The world beckons West Sacramento engineering firm

04/24/2014 12:00 AM

04/23/2014 9:21 PM

West Sacramento’s Miyamoto International, a structural engineering firm with operations in seven nations, plans to add offices in as many as five countries within a year.

Chief executive Kit Miyamoto told me he has his eye on Liberia, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Peru and India. Miyamoto doesn’t expect to meet much global competition for projects in these nations. Other companies seek greater profits and fewer hassles in safer parts of the world, Miyamoto said, but he and his partners have asked their 200 or so employees to focus on saving lives and improving economies. Half of Miyamoto’s work is done in places where the world’s poorest citizens live.

“We go places where no one wants to go, like after the (earthquake) disaster in Haiti in 2010,” Miyamoto said. “We went there and opened operations.”

Funded by the Haitian government and non-governmental organizations, Miyamoto’s staff showed 600 Haitian engineers how to evaluate whether 430,000 houses could be restored for occupancy. Of those, 130,000 homes were candidates. Miyamoto’s staff then trained 6,000 or 7,000 Haitian masons and roughly 20 small contractors on how to repair and stabilize the homes to international standards. The trainees strengthened 10,000 homes, and once the training was over, the local companies and workers took the reins and began work on the remaining 120,000 homes. Miyamoto provides quality control and supervision.

The engineering industry publication ENR recently awarded Miyamoto its Global Best Projects award for the renovation and repair work done in Haiti.

While its global work often gets the spotlight, Miyamoto has undertaken many projects locally and around California. The combination of foreign and domestic business has paid off. The company’s revenue has doubled since 2009, Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto also serves on the California Seismic Safety Commission, and he expressed concern that many state residents do not realize their homes and offices will not be habitable after a major earthquake.

“Building code provides basically one earthquake event per building, but society expects much more than that, you know?” Miyamoto said. “Some of the new construction, new high-rise buildings will not be usable or even repairable after a major seismic event.”

The interesting part, though, is that technology exists to give buildings the kind of superior performance that will increase their viability. The trade-off is a cost increase of 2 percent to 5 percent, Miyamoto said. So-called base isolation has been used on a few hundred buildings in the United States and thousands of buildings in Japan, he added, and condo builders in Japan have been able to charge more for homes with this added structural integrity.

Small towns, big profits

Tractor Supply Co. is quietly turning up at new stores all across rural America, bringing the shopping advantages of a big-box store to families who don’t have a wide variety of shopping centers nearby.

The company plans to open its 31st California outlet at 8135 Watt Ave. in Antelope in June. The store will offer a full line of pet foods, livestock needs and fencing. There will be pasture seed, garden seed and grass seed. There will be a clothing department with jeans, shirts, rubber footwear and boots. Need to trick out your steel horse? The place will have accessories for trucks and towing.

Stock analyst Peter Benedict of Baird Equity Research wrote a bullish report on Tractor Supply in February: “It has only been 5-6 years since management really ‘cracked the code’ in terms of product mix, inventory management, and operational discipline. So in many ways the TSCO story is still in its early stages.”

The company has nearly 1,250 stores nationwide. District manager Kevin Packard said the Antelope store will hire its 12 to 17 staffers from the local community. Applications are being accepted at www.tractorsupply.com.

“We look for folks with welding experience, maybe some light farming experience, some horse owners,” Packard said. “They relate so well to the customers we serve because they’ll say, ‘Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. This is the experience I had with that. Here’s what worked well. This will be the right product for you.’ ”

Placerville brushes up

A wide swath of Historic Downtown Placerville’s Main Street will be getting fresh new colors starting on June 2. You may recall that the foothills town won Benjamin Moore’s Main Street Matters contest, earning a free paint job for a block of its downtown.

Once town leaders read the fine print, they learned that Benjamin Moore will paint only the first-floor storefronts along Main Street from the Bell Tower in front of Centro Coffee to Bedford Avenue.

“Benjamin Moore is going to offer some paint discounts to people who want to paint anything that’s not part of the Benjamin Moore Main Street Matters project,” said Lisa Crummett, the marketing director for the Placerville Downtown Association. “Then maybe we’re hoping to find painting contractors to give group discounts.”

To learn more, attend the community meeting at 6 p.m. Friday at Placerville Town Hall, 549 Main St.

 

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