The Businesses that Shaped a City
In light of the City of San Leandro’s Sesquicentennial celebration, the City published a 24-page advertising supplement issued with the July 22, 2022 San Francisco Business Times. This supplement celebrates many of San Leandro’s businesses throughout its history as well as the many transformations that the business ecosystem has experienced over a century and a half.
Over the next couple of months we will be sharing these stories on this blog. The full supplement is available here.
Legacy businesses are integral to a community’s identity, serving as a foundation for new ideas to spark, mature, and flourish, in addition to industry leaders like Ghirardelli, PCC Structurals, and Peterson CAT, many well-established enterprises have solidified their place among San Leandro’s legacy businesses.
Bigge Crane & Rigging Co.
One such company is crane and rigging giant, Bigge Crane. The fourth-generation company was founded in Oakland in 1916 before moving to San Leandro in 1958. After being involved in the conception of what would later become the modern-day crane, the company’s history spans hauling ships during World War II to helping construct some of the region’s most iconic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Highway 101, and more recently, the Levi’s and Chase Stadiums.
Drivers around the Bay Area can see how Bigge has played a role in shaping the entire region. “We live in one of the largest and most energized areas in the world, and knowing that a San Leandro company has its fingerprints on so much of it is really incredible,” says Katie Bowman, Economic Development Manager for the City of San Leandro.
OSIsoft (now part of AVEVA) is a market-leading data management platform and the city’s largest technology company. Founded over 40 years ago by Dr. Patrick Kennedy, OSIsoft’s successful expansion has played a pivotal role in global data sharing and the evolution of the East Bay’s high-tech sector
Dr. Kennedy says he chose San Leandro due to its accessible industrial land, commutability for workers, and comparatively affordable housing. With its office directly adjacent to the BART station at the new San Leandro Tech Campus, OSIsoft has ideal accessibility for its local and commuting workforce. “Anywhere BART goes, people can get off and walk to our office” he says. “Plus, San Leandro sits between three highways for great vehicle transportation.”
Dr. Kennedy is widely esteemed for his role in creating Lit San Leandro in 2012, the fiber optic loop providing lightning-speed internet across the city. “High-capacity internet is one of the things you need for business.” he says. “I knew that San Leandro had a conduit under the streets for monitoring a street light program, so we came to an arrangement that allowed me to pull extra fiber through those conduits.”
With a whopping 10 gigabits per second, Lit San Leandro has been monumental for the city’s business development and modernization. “Fiber optics have the power to change the entire industrial and commercial world,” says Kennedy. “If you make a list of where the major companies are located in the area, San Leandro may not be first on that list…but it is one of the first to have fiber,” he says.
Founded in San Leandro in 1969, Scandic is Northern California’s largest stamping and spring company and a leading supplier of coil springs, four-slide stampings, precision progressive stampings, and CNC wireforming.
When searching for a new space to grow the company in 1991, current President and second-generation owner, Hale Foote, ultimately chose a new location one block down. “The City is very business-friendly, especially for small businesses like us,” he says, “and they were so helpful when we needed to expand.”
According to Andrea Foote, Hale Foote’s daughter and third-generation leader poised to take over the business, “Because of the business-friendly environment in San Leandro, we’re able to manufacture our made-in-America products here locally, which in turn helps create a thriving community for the employees here in the Bay Area.”
With the electric vehicle (EV) revolution and the broader sustainability movement consuming much of today’s automotive industry, Scandic’s custom, highly engineered products are widely liked to the “green” movement. “We want to serve ‘green looking’ companies that believe in new kinds of propulsion over carbon fuels,” says Hale, “and ultimately, they see us as a partner in that movement.”
With the support of the City’s business incentive program, Scandic has made substantial investments in sustainability, including the installation of roughly 400 solar panels and skylights to reduce lighting demand. “The City turned us on to the idea of sustainability while working with an outside firm to make sustainability circles of businesses that benchmark each other to help us operate more efficiently,” he says.