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 user 2009-11-10 at 10:54:07 am Views: 155
  • #22900
    50 years ago, a California technology company moved to
    Loveland, changing the region forever.Monday marks the 50th anniversary
    of the announcement that Hewlett-Packard would build a manufacturing
    plant in Loveland. Several residents who were here at the beginning
    share their remembrances.Loveland resident and business owner Bill
    Beierwaltes remembers in the 1950s watching the weathermen (they were
    all male) on TV give their reports wearing cowboy hats.“A lot of farmers
    depended on the weather to make a living,” Beierwaltes said.More than
    50 years later, many of the dirt roads and farms in Beierwaltes’
    hometown are gone.So is computer manufacturing giant Hewlett-Packard,
    which was the impetus that changed.Loveland from an agricultural
    community to one with a technology and manufacturing focus.“HP has been a
    huge, huge influence on this region and the entire state,” Beierwaltes

    The move of Hewlett-Packard to Loveland in 1960 — announced
    50 years ago Monday — provided the city with a manufacturing base,
    though there is little manufacturing here today, said Loveland author
    and historian Kenneth Jessen, a former Hewlett-Packard employee.At the
    time, Hewlett-Packard wasn’t a household name, but the designer and
    manufacturer of electronic test equipment brought technology not only to
    Loveland, but to the area and the state, Beierwaltes said.“When HP
    first set up, there was no IBM in Boulder, no technology in Northern
    Colorado,” Beierwaltes said.

    After Hewlett-Packard came to
    Loveland, it built plants in Fort Collins, Greeley and Colorado Springs,
    and IBM located in Boulder, Beierwaltes said.Hewlett-Packard also
    spawned several other companies through the years, led to cottage
    industries that supplied the company, brought in an educated work force
    and raised the quality of life throughout the state, Beierwaltes and
    Jessen said.Hewlett-Packard brought in an industry with high wages and
    good benefits, said Walt Skowron, a retiring member of the Loveland City
    Council and former Hewlett-Packard employee.“In actuality, it converted
    a primarily agriculture state to a high-technology state,” Skowron
    said. “Most of the technology was in California in what we call Silicon
    Valley and in Massachusetts,” Skowron said.Skowron was the 24th employee
    hired by Hewlett-Packard, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.
    He started in 1961 as a technical writer and held 18 different positions
    during the 37 years he worked for the company.“I miss the old HP,”
    Skowron said. “The old HP valued their employees as the most important
    asset. The new HP is about the bottom line.”

    In the old days, he
    said, the company would respond to a slowdown in business by temporarily
    reducing the salaries of everyone in the company, from the CEO on down.
    Now, Skowron said, HP lays off its workers — a fate suffered by many in
    Loveland.In its early years, Hewlett-Packard encouraged employees to
    volunteer and get involved in city and county government by serving on
    boards, commissions and the City Council, Jessen said.Jessen, who
    volunteered with the United Way and served on several city boards,
    started with Hewlett-Packard in the mid-1960s and worked there for 33
    years in a variety of engineering and management positions, then for
    three years as a contract engineer.“Their involvement with the community
    was their biggest contribution,” Jessen said.

    At one time, the
    company and the former Bell Labs alternated being ranked the best
    employer in the country with the best employee policies and work
    environment, said Beierwaltes, who started at Hewlett-Packard in the
    mid-1960s as an intern and became a full-time employee in 1966.He
    managed the marketing activities for one of the company’s products,
    leaving in 1974 to become an entrepreneur.Beierwaltes helped found
    Colorado Memory Systems, which sold tape drives in the 1980s and 1990s
    to the personal computer market, and sold it to Hewlett-Packard in 1992.
    Most recently in 2002, he found Colorado vNet.“Loveland was blessed by
    having recruited probably one of the two finest companies in the world,”
    Beierwaltes said

    HP came to choose city

    Hewlett-Packard announced
    on Nov. 9, 1959, its plans to locate its first domestic plant outside
    the San Francisco Bay area in Loveland.Stan Selby, who became the first
    division manager of Hewlett-Packard’s Loveland plant, scouted Colorado
    to locate the new plant, according to Loveland author Kenneth Jessen’s
    “How It All Began: Hewlett-Packard’s Loveland Facility,” published in

    Selby went to the state where company co-founder Dave
    Packard was born.
    Packard and Bill Hewlett, Stanford University
    classmates who founded Hewlett-Packard in 1939, were interested in
    Boulder, where there was a major university and close proximity to the
    Denver airport, Jessen said in his book.Paul Rice, president of
    Loveland’s First National Bank, and appliance dealer Bob Hipps,
    organizers of the Loveland Development Fund, learned of Selby’s plans
    and encouraged children in Loveland to write letters to Hewlett-Packard,
    said Walt Skowron, a retiring member of the Loveland City Council and a
    former Hewlett-Packard employee.“Please come to Loveland because our
    dads can’t find jobs,” the children wrote, according to
    Skowron.Hewlett-Packard sent a team of managers unannounced to Loveland
    and interviewed people on the street to find out about the community and
    learn about its work ethic, Skowron said.

    After the visit,
    Hewlett and Packard decided to build a plant in Loveland. They bought 7
    acres of land and almost immediately started building a
    12,800-square-foot interim plant at Lincoln Avenue and Southeast Third
    Street, Jessen said in his book.Crews broke ground Feb. 15, 1960.
    Hewlett-Packard began producing voltmeters and power supplies in that
    plant July 5, 1960, with 28 employees on staff, Jessen said.

    year later, Hewlett-Packard broke ground on a 140,000-square-foot
    facility at Taft Avenue and Southwest 14th Street, Jessen said.During
    the fall of 1961, construction began on Building A, the first of the
    company’s current buildings, Jessen said. Move-in was in mid-July 1962,
    he said. Four additional buildings were constructed on the
    campus.Buildings A through D occupied 800,000 square feet on the
    323-acre campus, according to Reporter-Herald archives.

    employed 3,700 people at its peak in the mid-1980s.
    “Those jobs are
    gone,” Skowron said. “I know a lot of engineers in Loveland who can’t
    find work. They used to work for HP.”In 1999, Hewlett-Packard split its
    test and measurement division into Agilent Technologies and retained its
    computing and imaging business.In 2006, Agilent downsized into Building
    E, the fifth building on campus, and moved its 650 employees there.
    Buildings A through D still are for sale.Hewlett-Packard has moved all
    of its operations to other sites.“The closing of HP is a loss for
    Loveland,” said former Hewlett-Packard employee Bill Beierwaltes