Development authority head leaving |

Development authority head leaving

Staff reports

The man who played a key role in convincing Starbucks Coffee Co. to build bean roasting and processing facility in Douglas County is leaving his job as director of Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Kris Holt announced Thursday he has taken a business development position with Shaw Construction in its South Meadows office in Reno. The move will be effective mid-February.

“It just kind of hit me one day,” he said of his decision to quit the Carson City-based development agency after serving as its director for 13-1/2 years.

“I was talking to Ed Shaw (NNDA board president) off the cuff about his business. I looked at Shaw and he is serious — their business is growing, and wants to grow faster.

“I was ready for a new challenge. Shaw has been around since 1955. They did 60 percent of the industrial construction in Carson City, so since 1988 we’ve been involved with each other on many projects.”

The announcement came as a surprise to Douglas County, business, chamber and government leaders.

“I think he’s done a great job and I hope this opportunity is everything he hopes for and more,” said Suzanne Rosevold, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority.

Holt leaves a legacy of growth in the capital region. During his tenure, manufacturing has increased from approximately 100 companies to 300 companies in Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties.

Some notable companies that have shown staying power include Chromalloy, Sierra Mold Corp., Harley-Davidson Credit, California Gear and Instrument, Amway Corp. and Starbucks.

“You work with these companies as they prepare to locate, so you get to know them personally; you get to know their families,” he said. “Three or four years down the road, they are established and making money. And doing things like donating money to the community college.

“That’s what I have liked about it. That’s what you like to see. It’s fun to be around strivers and people who are successful.”

Rosevold said she hopes NNDA will find the right candidate for Northern Nevada, who has the local insight and perspective that Holt had.

“He was able to understand what kind of companies were right for Douglas County,” she said. “I hope the person NNDA picks will have some of the same local insight and perspective as Kris had.”

NNDA will have some enormous shoes to fill, added Renea Louie, executive director of the Business Council of Douglas County.

“Kris has been a key component to bringing solid companies into Northern Nevada for many years,” Louie said. “His shoes will be hard to fill.”

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said Holt has helped Douglas County grow from a region that had difficulties getting new business and industry to a county that is desirable for new business.

“Kris had the knowledge and background of the region,” Holler said. “He took the time to help cultivate and develop business relationships. I think the real challenge will be finding his replacement.”

Shaw said Holt is “a perfect fit” as his company looks to expand its influence locally, and into Northern California.

“We were looking for a marketing and sales guy, and Kris was looking for a new opportunity,” Shaw said.

“There’s so much ground to cover, we feel we have to have a full-time person on board.”

Shaw Construction employees between 30 and 50 workers, and is currently working on Silver Springs High School construction. Since its beginning, the company has established itself as one of the premier industrial and commercial contractors in Northern Nevada, working closely with the mining industry, as well as new and expanding companies.

Meanwhile, the authority’s board has the task of selecting Holt’s replacement, a process Holt says “may take a couple of months.”

“I’ve had a dozen names thrown at me his morning,” he said.

Holt told the authority’s long roster of members of his decision Thursday. “It has to be someone who is really good with people, number one. You have to be able to juggle a lot of things at once. There is always something going on.

“I’m hoping it will be someone from Northern Nevada because there is so much talent here,” Holt said.

Manufacturing represents approximately 15 percent of the local economy, compared with 5 or 6 percent for the rest of the state.

Holt started his professional career in Santa Cruz and then San Luis Obispo, Calif., working in sales at radio stations. He then made the move to banking, where he worked as a marketing director at three different banks, a job that eventually took him to Bakersfield, Calif. and then Reno.

He started at the authority in 1988. Bob Shriver was the authority’s first director in 1982. Before Holt, the agency was also run by Gary Cook and Vivian Roberts.