Business California's Alternative Grass Valley November 28, 2017 BY Erika Kosina

Meaningful Work in Nevada County’s Tech Industry at High Sierra Electronics

When most people think about making a positive impact in the world through their work, they think of teaching, or health care services, or working for a nonprofit. But a small group of employees in Grass Valley has found meaningful work in a surprising place — Nevada County’s tech industry.

High Sierra Electronics, Inc. designs and manufactures environmental monitoring systems. These systems respond in real time to changing conditions such as heavy rainfall threatening to flood a neighborhood, a river or dam that is getting close to overflowing or a road that is becoming icy. Warning people immediately about dangerous road conditions or the possibility of a flood can mean the difference between life and death.

People Who Care

It makes sense that the company culture draws a certain type of employee – people who care. Anna Bellizzi, a 36-year-old Systems Integration Specialist, enjoys working in a caring environment. “Everyone is super understanding and supportive,” she said. “Everyone is concerned about each other on more than a work level.” Charlie Anderson is a 33-year-old Field Services Manager who moved to the area from Texas. He was pleased to find a “flexible and supportive” work environment, in addition to a great place to live. “We had crazy traffic in Fort Worth and Austin,” he said. “Walking outside and seeing trees that are taller than any building is amazing.”

The Nevada County Lifestyle

High Sierra Electronics’ employees also value being part of a small but thriving community — Nevada County’s tech industry. Bellizzi just graduated from a mechatronics program at the local community college. She meets other local techies at the gym. But the main draw for Bellizzi is the ability to live the elusive dream of work life balance. “People value work life balance here,” said Bellizzi. “That’s been huge for me.” What does work life balance look like in Grass Valley? Skiing in the middle of the week for one thing, without fully succumbing to the ski bum lifestyle. “I don’t have to take a week off to go skiing,” said Bellizzi. “You can go for a half day.”

Making a Difference

Eric Gibbons is a 63-year-old General Manager and Engineering Manager who moved to Grass Valley in 1991 from Redwood City. He was looking for a more grounded, less crowded environment to raise his family. He and his family have never looked back. Eric loves the helping aspect of the work he does for High Sierra Electronics. “I’m truly excited about weather and the work that we do,” he said. “The products and services we provide help save lives. It means a lot to be able to make a difference. You go home feeling like you really accomplished something.”