By Emily Alvarenga, Signal Staff Writer
After a year of turmoil for many businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley, the SCV Economic Development Corp. released its list of the area’s largest employers.
At the top of this year’s list is Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, which, after a yearlong pandemic, comes as no surprise, with the hospital moving from No. 5 to No. 1 on the list.
“As a medical center for the Santa Clarita Valley, we are pleased to play such a significant regional economic role, and we are tremendously proud of how our nearly 2,000 employees have worked so heroically during the past year,” hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said. “We also very much hope our valley’s historic major employers return to their pre-pandemic employment levels as the economy improves.”
While the hospital’s employment levels have remained somewhat constant from last year to present, other industries have suffered, including Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises, as well as Six Flags Magic Mountain, whose operations spent more than a year halted.
Six Flags has since been given the green light to reopen, allowing the park to make strides toward rehiring furloughed employees, and while Princess Cruises lost nearly 800 employees, the company recently announced it would be hiring for approximately 200 positions, as the company prepares to return to the seas this summer.
“Despite the significant impacts of the COVID shutdown orders, other companies grew during COVID and expanded in or relocated to the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Holly Schroeder, CEO and president of the SCVEDC. “The growth in these companies, combined with recovery of the businesses most impacted by the pandemic closures, should lead to job recoveries in SCV as the year progresses.”
New to the list is Amazon, which opened two distribution centers and brought more than 500 jobs to the area.
Other companies used 2020 to expand operations, such as Lief Labs, a nutritional supplement manufacturing company that was recognized on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies list.
In the past year, Lief Labs has not only expanded its footprint in the SCV, but also achieved 50% sales growth and more than 50% employee increase during one of the toughest years of uncertainty and risk, ranking No. 52 on the SCVEDC’s list.
“It is an honor, and it is humbling to be one of the larger employers in Santa Clarita,” Lief Labs President Adel Villalobos said.
What began as a desire to take advantage of Santa Clarita’s growing infrastructure and a vision to one day create a prosperous business with good values allowed Lief Labs to overcome the hurdles the pandemic threw at the company this last year.
“The answer is the entrepreneurial spirit, the passion of the employees, the love for the culture, and when we got hit with the hurdles and the struggles of 2020, we confronted them with the people that got us here,” Villalobos added.
As an essential business, Lief Labs was able to continue to provide nutritional supplements, like zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C, whose importance were at the forefront of the pandemic.
“It was being an essential business, and us being selfless and making sure that we came to work and delivered on the essentials that consumers and the health care community needed,” Villalobos said.
In addition, Gothic Landscaping, Quest Diagnostics and Stay Green Inc. are three more companies that had meaningful gains this past year, according to the SCVEDC, expanding their companies by more than 10%.
Since the company began in a garage on Gothic Avenue in Los Angeles more than 35 years ago, Gothic Landscaping has located its corporate offices in Valencia and has since expanded into four states, according to Rocco Cordola, sales manager at the company’s Valencia location.
“It’s still a family-owned business,” Cordola said. “And we have grown into three locations here in Santa Clarita for both the construction of the maintenance side (of landscaping).”
As for the ranking as the SCV’s 23rd largest employer, Cordola said they’re very blessed and hope to continue on this upward trend.
To view the SCVEDC’s list of SCV’s largest employers, visit bit.ly/SCVLargestEmployers.