It’s the end of an era. Price Pump has grown and thrived in Sonoma for 70 years. But before the end of this year, the manufacturer of high-tech pumps will pull up stakes and move its headquarters – lock, stock and pump – to Boise, Idaho.
“It has simply become too difficult and too costly to run a manufacturing business in Sonoma Valley,” said Price Pump President Bob Piazza.
“To pick up and move is traumatic,” he acknowledged. “Some of our employees have worked here for 45 years.
Piazza, 74, shares the emotions of his employees. He has lived in California his whole life and he will also move with his wife of 53 years to Idaho.
“I don’t love change,” he said, “But the way things are going, we don’t have a choice.”
Price Pump was founded in 1932 by E. L. Price in Emeryville. During the 1930s and 1940s its focus was on the manufacture of agricultural pumps. The company relocated to Sonoma in 1948. Jack Price, the son of E.L Price, headed the firm during the 1950s. When Leon J. Paul acquired Price Pump in 1962, he retained the Price brand name because it had a good reputation in the business.
By 1979, Price Pump Company had outgrown its 3,600-square-foot rented space on Fourth Street East and moved to a 10,000-square-foot facility on Eighth Street East. In 1989, the company constructed a 32,000-square-foot facility two miles further down Eighth Street East at 1 Pump Way, where it still operates today. For now.
In 1992, Piazza was recruited to head up the company, bringing with him 24 years of pump experience in marketing, operations, engineering and sales.
So, why Boise?
Piazza is one of three shareholders who own the business, and one of his partners is based in Boise, a location that offers a much lower cost of doing business.
Piazza said that employee reaction to the move, including his own, has gone through stages.
“First it was shock… then everybody started getting interested in learning more about Boise,” he said. “Those that haven’t decided or aren’t moving are pretty quiet… and are thinking about the future here.”
For Quality Assurance Technician Ryan Daley, the news felt like déjà vu.
“When the news broke during a meeting, I was shocked that this is happening to me again,” he said. “I had lost a good job in Sonoma around 2007 due to a manufacturer moving outside of the state”
Piazza offered all employees an all-expenses paid trip with their families to Boise to see the area. A dozen employees have taken him up on the offer and the vast majority came back excited to move.
Daley and his wife visited Boise and the surrounding areas in March.
“We both agreed that the Boise area would be a fantastic place to raise our young family and keep the American dream alive,” he said. “Our quality of life will improve. We will surely miss the beauty, community, friends and mostly family here in Sonoma. I have lived most of my four decades in the Sonoma Valley, but my wife and I are ready for a new adventure.”
Piazza said it turned out to be hard to predict who would be excited to move and who wouldn’t.