Extensive remodeling has turned a decrepit Felton building into the shiny new home of Inovonics Broadcast, a firm that designs and manufactures radio broadcast equipment.
According to Ben Barber, president and chief executive of Inovonics, work crews fixed termite damage and extensive dry rot and improved energy efficiency in the 1950s-era structure at 5805 Highway 9.
“We really made efforts and made the building much nicer,” Barber said. “It really brought it up to today’s standards.”
The renovations, which cost an estimated $100,000, had been on Inovonics’ to-do list since the company acquired the property in 2009.
Work did not begin until 2012, however — largely because the area surrounding the building, which was designed and built for commercial use, had since been zoned by the county as strictly residential.
While the business could operate there, little could legally be done to upgrade the facility until the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted in 2012 to allow remodeling work on such structures countywide.
Barber hired Mount Hermon-based architect William Mayfield to oversee the remodeling process, which included the installation of noise-reducing double-paned windows, adding insulation in the walls and ceilings and constructing a new façade.
“We redid the entire front wall,” Barber said. “(The remodel) basically tore the front of the building off.”
The building also has new Thermo-Plastic Olefin roofing, a single-ply plastic membrane that reflects heat, keeping the inside at a more constant temperature.
“It’s much quieter inside — it’s much more energy efficient,” Barber said. “The building doesn’t get nearly as hot during the summer.”
The façade, he said, was designed to match the Old West style of the other buildings in town.
A large, stylized sign is mounted in front, which Barber hopes will let the community know exactly what sort of business is inside the building.
“Our architect thought, ‘Why don’t we tell everybody?’” he said, adding that although Inovonics is not a retail business, many people wander in out of curiosity.
The company’s 10 employees — four of whom are residents of the San Lorenzo Valley — have a quieter, more temperate place to design and assemble the company’s line of high-definition radio data service receivers.
The receivers made there are sold to radio stations around the world, where they are used by technicians to ensure songs, advertisements and artist information are transmitted in high-definition radio signals.
The company, which ships about 1,700 units per year, was founded 40 years ago in Campbell. It moved to Santa Cruz in 1984 and settled in Felton in 2009.
Product manager Suzanne Scofield, who has spend more than two decades on the job, said working for Inovonics has been a great source of pride.
She said that the staff feels like a family and that managers have repeatedly turned down more profitable offers to have the equipment made overseas.
“No one ever quits,” she said. “(The products) are American-made, and we’re proud of it.”
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