Major electrical infrastructure company moves headquarters to Nevada City | TheUnion.com

Major electrical infrastructure company moves headquarters to Nevada City

Sam Corey
Staff Writer
Werner Palm talks with his nephew Alex Palm, about the change of events that brought their business — Electrical Design Technology — to Nevada City Tuesday afternoon. Werner escaped from the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa before landing their offices in the Nevada City Tech Center.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Information

Electrical Design Technology, Inc. is located at 354 Providence Mine Road, Nevada City, Ca. 95959

The first time Alex Palm heard his uncle bought a home in Grass Valley, he responded, “Grass What?”

Alex’s uncle, Werner Palm, had just moved from Santa Rosa because of the Tubbs Fire, but he was still commuting to the city to run his company as the founder of Electrical Design Technology, Inc.

Upon visiting Nevada County, Alex decided he liked Grass Valley as he soon quit his job, relocated to the city and convinced his uncle to move Electrical Design Technology, Inc. to Nevada City in 2018. Today, Alex is the company’s partner and vice president of business and development, where he operates out of their only headquarters in the United States.

A NEW START

Werner and his wife were at their home near the epicenter of the Tubbs Fire before the evacuations began, said Alex.

“It was only by chance that they were alerted by a fleeing neighbor,” said Alex, adding the couple barely escaped the fire, and that another neighbor wasn’t as lucky, dying in an attempt to flee the danger.

The Tubbs Fire, sparked by electrical equipment on private property, spread quickly through Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, destroying over 5,600 structures. Most of the damage was concentrated in Santa Rosa, which is where all 22 people who died in the fire were killed.

Rummaging through the rubble, trying to salvage what little was left, Alex tried to help his aunt and uncle recover.

“We were sifting through the ashes, and thinking what now?” he said, adding that the Santa Rosa housing market was a mess, and the family preferred to buy than rebuild.

After the couple visited Nevada County, they went to Alex’s house in San Rafael for Christmas and made the announcement that they were moving to the northern county. It wasn’t until last February that Alex himself came to Nevada City for the Mardi Gras festival, and met his relatives’ friends endearingly referred to as “The Pod,” and felt compelled by the city.

In little time, Alex left his job in Marin County, joined his uncle’s company, moved to the area and convinced his uncle to relocate the company as well.

“All of us who have moved here with the company, we are totally enamored with this area,” said Alex. “I guess, it’s like I’ve come home.”

After the catastrophe, Alex’s relatives are grateful to be alive and have a new start in Nevada County as they continue establishing new relationships.

“We all interact with each other, individually and collectively, and that I find so amazing,” said Werner, adding that these connections were lacking in Sonoma County.

ELECTRICAL TRANSPORTATION

Electrical Design Technology, Inc. was founded by Werner about 34 years ago. The company works in traction power, designing, building and engineering electrical equipment to assist transportation projects.

The company does business domestically and globally, including Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, and works in a variety of remote areas and densely populated cities. It creates products like circuit breakers, battery systems, and motor control centers, which stem from manufacturing sites across the country and the world. Electrical Design Technology, Inc., has helped manage things like the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

On March 26, it will be delivering 40,000 pounds worth of transformers for the Central Subway Project in San Francisco, lowering them five stories underground. The added equipment is meant to facilitate better traction for the power grid, enabling buses and trains to operate more smoothly.

NEVADA CITY HEADQUARTERS

Electrical Design Technology, Inc. now rests in a Nevada City Tech Center office, across from Seven Hills Middle School, where it’s often easy to hear children screaming during recess. To the west of the office is densely packed forestry.

“Boy, you couldn’t have a better visage than out here with all the trees,” said Werner, adding there is a sinkhole on the property leftover from past miners. “It’s amazing.”

The transition has been smooth, according to Werner, who says more business partners have visited the company in their Nevada City office than their previous headquarters in Santa Rosa.

“We have not missed a lick,” he said. “We moved from Santa Rosa, set up shop here, our clientele have been our clientele for 34 years.”

The wifi connection, however, has left something to be desired, according to Alex. This, despite a Nevada City Tech Center advertisement on the property boasting broadband internet with “fiber optic speeds.”

“We are paying a king’s ransom for paltry (connection),” he said, adding that sacrificing high speed internet is worth the city’s charm and communal spirit.

There are six employees in the Nevada City office. One of them, Judy Kasa, a native to the area. The company is looking to hire more for their new headquarters in the near future, and hopes to contribute further to the local economy, according to Alex.

“When you give, you get,” said Werner. “It’s the law of nature.”

After the catastrophe they endured, the company’s founder, and his nephew, are not sad for what was lost, but grateful for what they gained.

“I’ve never visited a place that’s quite like this, and it’s really because of the community here,” said Alex Palm. “It’s not six degrees of separation here, it’s really half a degree.”

Contact Sam Corey at (530) 477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.


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