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Originally published February 10, 2015 at 3:03 PM | Page modified February 11, 2015 at 7:16 PM

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Seattle’s too expensive, so Cascade Designs moving a fifth of its jobs to Nevada

The outdoor gear maker will move about 100 jobs, roughly one fifth of its workforce, to a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Nevada as it seeks to keep costs down while pursuing growth


Seattle Times business reporter

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Seattle-based outdoor-gear maker Cascade Designs will move about 100 jobs, roughly one fifth of its workforce, to a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Nevada as it seeks to keep costs down while pursuing growth.

The company said it needs to expand, but doing so in the Seattle area is too expensive. The main reason is increasingly expensive real estate, especially for the space it leases around the city to house its merchandise.

“We’re running out of space in Seattle,” spokesman Martin Maisonpierre said.

But labor costs — recently subject to a minimum wage of $15 per hour — also add up, especially as Cascade competes with brands that rely on cheap overseas labor, Maisonpierre said.

The privately held company, which makes outdoor sleeping mattresses and other equipment under the brands Therm-a-Rest, MSR, Platypus and others, will keep the bulk of its operations here, where it owns a significant chunk of real estate south of downtown. Some 300 to 350 Cascade employees will continue to work here.

“We want to remain a Seattle company,” Maisonpierre said.

By diversifying its operations, it can “hopefully work on our manufacturing costs to where we can continue to add jobs in Seattle,” he said.

The facility in Reno will open in August and is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of next year.

All affected employees have been offered the opportunity to relocate to Reno, with six to 10 months’ notice and with severance pay for those who stay through the transition. It’s unclear at this point how many will move.

“They’ve got plenty of time to make that decision,” Maisonpierre said.

Relocation assistance will be offered to some key personnel who will help set up the new facility, but “we’re just not able to offer relocation assistance for 100 people,” Maisonpierre said.

He said the jobs in Reno will pay $10 an hour or more. Many of them will be on the more labor-intensive, less-specialized end of the spectrum. A lot of the more complex, high-tech manufacturing will remain in Seattle, Maisonpierre said.

He said part of the reason Cascade is opening a facility in Reno is because it remains committed to U.S. manufacturing. The company also has another facility, in Ireland, to serve the European Union.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @gonzalezseattle



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