Keysight Tech­nolo­gies forced to evac­u­ate

The Mercury News Weekend - - BUSINESS - By Ge­orgeA­va­los gava­los@ba­yare­anews­group.com

SANTA ROSA » Keysight Tech­nolo­gies, Sonoma County’s largest pub­licly owned com­pany, was forced to va­cate its head of­fices as one of the Wine Coun­try fires bore down on the area, but Keysight’s top­boss saidThurs­day the­head­quar­ters is in­tact de­spite some dam­age.

Keysight em­ploy­ees work­ing Sun­day night were evac­u­ated from the Santa Rosa head­quar­ters. Themil­lion-square­foot, 200-acre cam­pus re­mained emp­tied out Thurs­day, days af­ter flames first roared through tin­der-dry Sonoma and Napa coun­ties.

“Our No. 1 pri­or­ity is the safety of our em­ploy­ees, not only our em­ploy­ees, but our em­ploy­ees’ fam­i­lies— those are pri­or­i­ties one, two and three,” said Ron­ald Ners­esian, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Keysight Tech­nolo­gies, which makes in­stru­ments, sys­tems and soft­ware for elec­tronic mea­sure­ments and is de­scended from the orig­i­nal Hewlet­tPackard op­er­a­tions in the Bay Area.

Yet plenty re­mains up in the air on that score for Keysight, which pro­duced $232 mil­lion in prof­its on rev­enue of $3.06 bil­lion over a 12-month pe­riod through July.

The com­pany has 1,500work­ers who typ­i­cally work at its Santa Rosa head­quar­ters, in­clud­ing 1,100 full-time em­ploy­ees. At least 49 of those em­ploy­ees

lost their homes in the firestorm. And while Keysight has reached out to ev­ery one of its work­ers, the com­pany as of Thurs­day af­ter­noon still hadn’t heard back from a few of them.

Some mod­u­lar build­ings on the edges of the cam­pus have burned to the ground. They con­tained a preschool that Keysight had do­nated to Santa Rosa as well as a credit union. But the main cam­pus re­mains largely un­touched by the fire.

“We have of­fi­cially said the site is closed this week,” Ners­esian said. “There are some mi­nor ar­eas where there may have been some water dam­age. We are go­ing through this bit by bit. There is no ques­tion­wewill be fine.”

One tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try ex­pert, Tim Ba­jarin, prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst with Camp­bell- based Cre­ative Strat- egies, said it ap­pears Keysight could be back in its head of­fices sooner than later.

“If the fire has skirted them and they haven’t had any struc­tural dam­age, the amount of time they will be away from that fa­cil­ity is prob­a­bly less than two weeks,” Ba­jarin said.

Keysight, which had a mar­ket value of $7.92 bil­lion on Thurs­day, op­er­ates in about 100 world­wide lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing a ma­jor op­er­a­tion in Colorado. It has 12,300 work­ers glob­ally.

“It’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge, but the down­time will be weeks, and not months,” Ba­jarin said.

Keysight has be­gun to help its dis­placed em­ploy­ees, di­rectly and in­di­rectly.

The com­pany has of­fered $10,000 of as­sis­tance — which doesn’t have to be re­paid — for any em­ployee who has lost a home.

KARL MON­DON—BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

Keysight Tech­nolo­gies smol­ders af­ter a por­tion of it burned in the Tubbs Fire on Mon­day in Santa Rosa. Typ­i­cally, 1,500 of their em­ploy­ees work in Santa Rosa.

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