Meet Your Merchant: Cranmer looks to water to forge its future |

Meet Your Merchant: Cranmer looks to water to forge its future

Testaments to Cranmer Engineering and Analytical Laboratory’s accomplishments rise across Nevada County.

Developments such as the 6,000-plus-lot Truckee Donner and Alta Sierra owe their existence to Cranmer’s know-how. Much of the water infrastructure in Grass Valley and around the county were built on Cranmer designs.

The Grass Valley engineering company has served as a breeding ground for other local engineers whose companies now dot the area.

Many of them got their start working for original owner Jim Cranmer when he incorporated the business in 1968.

Since then, the company has transformed to keep pace with the demands of California’s marketplace, doing testing and water analysis and helping towns and public utility districts come into compliance with the state’s drinking and waste water regulations.

“A good share of our work is now small water companies and (public utility districts),” said Chuck Zavitz, the company’s current owner.

Zavitz took over the firm about five years ago and brings a certified public accountant’s background to the engineering and water analysis company. His skill set complements the en- gineers, as he can back up their work with an intimate knowledge of finance.

“I find it kind of exciting to resolve water problems,” Zavitz said.

The company’s 14-member staff includes a chemist, civil engineer, laboratory technicians, business employees and interns. They are well-educated people, but Zavitz said he looks beyond their degrees when recruiting employees.

“I look for people with imagination, dedication to the environment and the ability to solve problems,” Zavitz said. Among his employees are fly fishermen, sailors and outdoor enthusiasts, Zavitz said.

He credited engineers Dale O’Bryan and Steve Sarantopoulos with much of the company’s success and credited business development chief Andrew Stresser with bringing in clients for the company.

Nowadays, the company focuses on water analysis and survey work, Zavitz said.

Since the economic downturn began, business opportun- ities in land development have shrunk.

“Our history was pretty heavily in land development,” Zavitz said. “Right now, there is zero land development. Water compliance issues are really coming to the forefront.”

Municipalities in the county and across California are increasingly focusing on water conservation as demand for the limited resource grows. People must maximize their water use and can’t afford to waste it, Zavitz said.

“Water is a valuable commodity,” Stresser added.

And it’s the key to the Grass Valley business, Zavitz said.

“When people think water, we want them to think Cranmer,” Zavitz said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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