Thousand Oaks scores by landing Easton Baseball/Softball
Thousand Oaks has hit a home run.
Easton Baseball/Softball, a Van Nuys-based sporting goods company, announced Aug. 19 that it will move its global headquarters to Thousand Oaks when the lease on its current building expires in 2016.
Easton will move into a new 90,000-square-foot headquarters at 3500 Willow Lane. It will also have a 15,000-square-foot indoor training facility where athletes will train and help Easton develop new products.
For Easton, the move represents a new start. For Thousand Oaks, it means 100 jobs.
“Easton baseball and softball (sales) are at an all-time high, and we plan on continuing to grow as a brand,” said Todd Harman, executive vice president of Easton Baseball/Softball. “Our current building just isn’t big enough for that, so we needed to move to bigger space.”
Thousand Oaks is known for churning out high quality youth, high school and college baseball and softball players, according to Harman, who also said the company was attracted to the area because it could easily work with those players.
With the move to Thousand Oaks, Easton hopes to end a decade of corporate turmoil and get a fresh start in a new place.
Founded in 1922 as an archery company by Doug Easton, the company started making baseball equipment in the 1960s. Easton’s son, Jim Easton, expanded the company into hockey and cycling equipment before selling it for $400 million in 2006.
After the sale, Easton was owned by Scotts Valley-based Easton-Bell Sports. Easton-Bell Sports sold the baseball and softball division to Exeter N.H.-based Performance Sports Group in February of 2014 for $330 million. Performance Sports Group is best known for its Bauer Hockey line of products.
During its third quarter 2015 earnings report on April 13, Performance Sports Group said its baseball and softball divisions had $153.5 million in sales during the previous nine months, most of which was attributable to Easton. Performance said its acquisition of Easton Baseball/Softball makes its overall business less seasonal.
Thousand Oaks is welcoming Easton with open arms.
“We are thrilled to welcome Easton, one of the most iconic and innovative baseball and softball brands in the nation to our city,” said Thousand Oaks Mayor Al Adam in a news release.
Easton is iconic. For decades, Easton baseball bats have been as much a part of Little League Baseball as sunflower seeds and bubble gum. Easton is the official equipment sponsor of the Little League World Series.
In the 1990s, Easton created two-piece baseball and softball bats that have become popular among Little League, high school and college players because they flex more than one-piece bats.
Thousand Oaks City Manager Scott Mitnick is proud that the city attracted Easton.
Mitnick said one thing separates businesses that come to Thousand Oaks from those that relocate to other cities: they come to Thousand Oaks because they want to.
“The city council has been pretty adamant against providing corporate welfare,” Mitnick said. “A lot of cities will underwrite the cost of the land, they will waive fees, they will use property taxes or sales taxes to pay back loans or they will just outright give them money.”
Easton’s move comes amid a somewhat tumultuous time for Thousand Oaks’ business community.
Ventura County’s biggest employer, Amgen, announced in July of 2014 it would eliminate up to 2,900 workers and reduce its global workforce by 15 percent. At the time, Amgen had about 6,000 employees at its Thousand Oaks headquarters. In October, Chief Executive Robert Bradway announced plans for an additional 5 percent cut to Amgen’s global workforce, or about 1,000 additional layoffs.
In April though, Chinese pharmaceutical company Bocom Pharmaceutical paid $9.89 million for a building in Newbury Park.
Mitnick said that will soften the blow of the Amgen layoffs.
“I wish I could say they all wanted to be in Thousand Oaks because it’s the best place on the planet, but I know that’s not the case,” Mitnick said.
Haider Alawami, economic development manager for Thousand Oaks, said regional business strength is almost as important as a city’s own business strength. Only when companies decide to move to another part of the country does Alawami get concerned.
“We’ll work together with the cities of Westlake Village and Agoura Hills,” Alawami said. “But how we look at is that they are still in the same region, so that’s a positive for us because they’re still here.”
The building Easton Baseball/Softball will move into was built in 1987.
Mike Tingus, chairman of commercial real estate brokerage Lee and Associates, said the building Easton is moving into was almost used to store RVs before Easton leased it.
“It has a huge 3,500 pound elevator, so it was an easy conversion we were going to do for some outdoor RV storage,” Tingus said.
The building was originally built for Agoura Hills-based electronic parts company Teradyne. It was then used by White Plains, N.Y.-based aerospace, energy and transportation company ITT Corp.
Because of a renovation during the building’s history, it has 111,703 square feet of space, adding a second floor to a part of the building.
Tingus said Easton plans to take out the renovated area and reduce square footage to about 90,000 square feet.
Easton officials hope to move into the new building sometime in the spring.
An original version of this story said Easton Baseball and Softball bought the building it is moving into at 3500 Willow Lane. Easton in fact leased the building from Martin Properties Inc.