In another few days, the most recent layoffs at Pacific Insight, now Methode Electronics, will take effect and bring to an end to manufacturing operations in Nelson. The small group that remains will occupy only a small corner of a facility that, at its peak, employed over 400 people assembling electronics and wire harnesses for companies like Ford, GM, Polaris, and many others.
Countless bright, dedicated people put years of their lives into making PI so successful that it ultimately attracted the attention of a billion-dollar company. It is a rather bitter reward that as a result of their efforts many of these exceptional people are now looking for work. If you can, hire them!
It’s natural to point fingers and assign blame for what has happened, but as we process the loss it’s also worth remembering the good that PI brought to Nelson and how remarkable it really was. Companies like PI don’t just spontaneously appear in small towns. They need someone who loves the community, believes in it, and wants to invest in it.
In 1987 that person was Brad Smithson, who moved his newly formed company back to his hometown of Nelson and then guided it through steady growth over the next 20 years. At the time, some may have argued that moving to Nelson was not a good business decision, but Brad saw the potential here that may not have been obvious to others.
The rest is history. Over the years, almost 4,500 people have worked at PI Nelson, earning money and gaining valuable experience in a high-tech industry. The end is sad because we are mourning the loss of something that was good. I, like many others, would not have had the opportunity to learn what I did, nor to raise my family and live in Nelson if it was not for Pacific Insight. For that I am very grateful. Thank you Pacific Insight, and thank you Brad.