Recreation, politics bring H. Potter to Washington

Nebraska company to move into Valley industrial park

Alison Boggs/Staff writer
Spokesman Review

H. Potter is coming to town, but – sorry, kids – that doesn’t mean the fictional boy wizard and his pals.

In this case, the meaning of potter is more closely related to potting plants and putting them on display. H. Potter is a 7-year-old Lincoln, Neb., company that makes conservatories, candle holders, parlor cases and ornamental items for the garden and home.

The company is moving into 18,400 square feet at the Spokane Business and Industrial Park at 3808 N. Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley. Company President Jerry Peed expects the company to be operating fully by May 17.

Peed said he’s moving the company to Spokane for a lifestyle change.

“There’s a lot more mountains and lakes and fishing and skiing than there is in Lincoln, Neb.,” Peed said. “It’s hard to fish in a cornfield, and it’s hard to ski in a cornfield.”

Peed said he looked at Colorado, but found it too expensive. Western Washington, California and the Oregon coast were attractive as well, but the politics were not to his liking.

“I’m kind of a redneck conservative, so I thought I’d fit in on the east side of Washington,” Peed said. “Am I right?”

Peed said his company would initially employ eight to 10 people, with wages starting at $8 an hour. Salespeople, who work on commission, likely will earn $35 to $50 an hour, he said.

Though he declined to release revenue figures, Peed said the company’s business has doubled in the past year. H. Potter used to manufacture all its products in-house, but recently outsourced that work to China, Peed said. He replaced the manufacturing jobs with sales jobs and was able to increase revenues by focusing on marketing and product development.

“We outsourced 12 jobs, but within a year, we’ll be up to 15 or 20,” he said. “We’ll be adding more jobs by going overseas.”

H. Potter sells its products wholesale to garden centers, catalogue companies, gift shops and patio stores. The company will not have a retail storefront in the commerce park.

The company began in 1997, with the name H. Potter dreamed up during a brainstorming session, Peed said. A year later, the first Harry Potter book — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — was published. Four books and two movies later, Peed said the impact on his company has been surprising, but no cash cow.

“When a new movie hits, our Web site ( spikes through the roof,” Peed said. “It hasn’t contributed to sales, but it’s like ‘Wow.’.”

Copyright 2004. Reproduced with permission of The Spokesman-Review. Permission is granted in the interest of public discussion and does no imply endorsement of any product, service or organization otherwise mentioned herein.