Fueled by pandemic, Fender expands instrument making in Corona

Fueled by increased product demand, Fender Musical Instruments Corp. is expanding its operations in Corona with a new facility that will add another 100,000 square feet of space.

The storied company is retrofitting an existing building at 345 Cessna Circle, which it is leasing. Fender plans to hire hundreds of additional workers for the new operation. It will complement the company’s adjacent 200,000-square-foot facility at 311 Cessna Circle, which has nearly 1,000 employees.

Openings are available for a variety of jobs, ranging from engineers and supervisors to hourly employees, including mill/machinists and others who handle sanding, painting, buffing and final assembly.

Pandemic-fueled growth

Openings are available for a variety of jobs, ranging from engineers and supervisors to hourly employees, such as mill/machinists and others who handle sanding, painting, buffing and final assembly. (Photo courtesy of Fender)

Ed Magee, Fender’s executive vice president of operations, said the additional space is sorely needed.

“The pandemic catalyzed incredible interest in learning guitar all around the world,” Magee said via email. “With that spike in interest comes growing demand for instruments to play.”

When COVID-19 lockdowns began, the company offered a free, three-month subscription to Fender Play, a learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. Since then, an estimated 1 million users have accessed the app, Magee said.

The new facility is expected to be up and running by October. It will support Fender’s Custom Shop and “Made in the USA” production lines across the Fender, Gretsch, Jackson, Charvel and EVH brands.

A community college partnership

Fender’s Corona-based factory also has forged a Master Builder Apprentices partnership with Norco Community College that allows the company to recruit, train and hire new employees.

Marco Garcia, a Centennial High School graduate, joined Fender’s executive team as director of operations. Fender’s expansion is part of the company’s mission to create a “Fender Campus” in Corona, grow its manufacturing footprint and continue investing in the community.

“We have established strong connections to this community, and it certainly influences who we are and how we operate,” Magee said. “We are committed to Corona, our growth, and are very excited about the future.”

Fender plans to hire hundreds of additional workers for the new operation. (Photo courtesy of Fender)

Jessica Gonzales, the city’s economic development director, said Corona is eager to provide the resources needed for local businesses to thrive.

“Fender’s expansion and growth illustrate that Corona truly is at the core of economic prosperity,” she said. “Fender’s balance of craftsmanship, commitment to workforce development and innovation highlight the quality of manufacturers that Corona attracts.”

Used by top players

The name Fender is synonymous with some of the best musicians in rock, country and blues. Over the years, top players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley have wielded Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters as their primary axes, and the company’s amplifiers, effects pedals and accessories are seen on stages throughout the world.

Fender also maintains a custom shop, known as the “Dream Factory.” It has grown to become a preeminent maker of highly collectible, custom instruments used by both working professionals and guitar enthusiasts.

As a founding member of the Fender Custom Shop, Redlands resident Alan Hamel designed the sonically expanded Twisted Tele neck pickup and also worked on the Western Boots Telecaster models and Vintage Hot Rod Stratocaster guitars.

Orange County girls water polo player of the year: Nicole Struss, Laguna Beach

LAGUNA BEACH — Nicole Struss wiped her eyes as tears rolled down her face and seemingly silenced the splashes and churns of the busy pool a few yards away.

They were tears of appreciation, and the Laguna Beach High senior let them speak.

Struss, who is the Register’s Orange County girls water polo player of the year, expressed how much former high school teammate — and her future UCLA teammate — Quinn Winter meant to her early development with the Breakers.

“I literally get emotional thinking about her and all that she has done for me,” Struss said while recounting text messages and rides to club practices she received from Winter. “She was always looking out for me, and keeping things so positive and happy, and she’d always give me the best advice if I ever needed anything.”

With that support, along with the guidance of Laguna Beach coach Ethan Damato, Struss emerged as one of Laguna Beach’s top all-time players, as well as one of its all-time leaders.

Nicole Struss is the Orange County girls water polo player of the year. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

This spring, she led the Breakers in and out of the pool to the Surf League title and 8-0 overall record in a season shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A team captain with three other seniors, the 5-foot-9 center scored 14 goals, drew 13 exclusions and five penalties and added nine assists.

Struss shared the Surf League MVP honor with teammate Emma Lineback, marking the third straight year that she has earned the top honor in the toughest league in the county.

“She goes down as one of our (all-time) best players, on arguably one of the best teams,” Damato said. “I called her this year our fearless leader. I think everybody looks to her when the going gets tough. You know she’s going to bring it.”

During the times when it appeared unlikely the season would be played, Struss was challenged to be positive. Laguna Beach aspired to win its third consecutive CIF-SS Division 1 title, but after the playoffs were canceled, the team found gratitude for the chances it received to play.

It was, however, an emotional process for Struss to find that perspective.

“As one of the leaders of the team, it was my role to give my input and try to keep everyone as positive as we can,” Struss said. “It was about making the most out of the time that we had together because at the end of the day, we all love playing together, but we also love just spending time with each other, and we were lucky that we able to spend time with each other.”

Are asking prices obsolete in this crazy real estate market?

Asking prices. Pay me this and we’ll make a deal. Easy? Not so fast.

In our hyper-inflated industrial real estate market, every COMP is a new high watermark. Demand for manufacturing and logistics buildings outstrips supply. Read: There is approximately three to four times the number of buyers than there are sellers. Is this scientific? No. Strictly anecdotal from my experience this year and the last six months of 2020.

Therefore, sellers are counseled to proceed cautiously lest they leave shekels on the sideboard. One way to accomplish this is to enter the market un-priced. The traditional back and forth of a negotiation – offer, counter, counter, strike – is history. What’s replaced it is akin to the old adage of “bring me a rock.” Yes, that’s indeed a rock. Now, bring me another rock. Once referred to as “countering oneself” – a no-no – is now quite common.

Here is the typical cadence these days while representing a buyer. We scan available inventory that meets the buyer’s parameters. If there is one match, you’re lucky. Two or three? Jackpot! You then check with the seller’s broker to confirm availability and touring protocol. Ooops. Sorry, we’re under contract. No, that sold last week. Nope, the tenant renewed.

Our system is quite archaic compared with our brethren in residential sales. Yes, we must call – quite inefficient – brokers to verify info. Realty boards streamline this with their levels of availability – active, active pending, active, contingent, etc. But there’s no such luck in our world. Commercial real estate is not under the same purview.

But, I digress. Back to the search. Faced with limited or no avails – now what? Well, we then scan the list of buildings available for lease. There might just be a seller hiding among the lease listings. You must filter out the “portions” of larger buildings as a buyer would have to buy something much bigger and factor out the owners who are atypically sellers. Hop on that phone and dial your fellow agents. Ok, cool. You found a possibility.

A proposal must check ALL the boxes – price north of where the last sale traded, superior financial qualifications, very few – if any – contingencies, quick close, large deposits, a bit of pixie dust, a hope and a prayer. Frequently, the off-market Hail Marys are dropped in the end zone. No score as the time expires.

But, you still have the buyer. Now what? Hand to hand combat. You pull a list of everything – vacant or occupied. Put together a nice letter outlining your need and be very specific. Send them to the owners. You might just hit pay dirt.

So, are asking prices obsolete? It would certainly appear so!

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104.

 

Orange County adds 8 million-dollar ZIPs, loses 8 housing bargains

Orange County added eight million-dollar Orange County neighborhoods in the year ending in March as the pandemic era’s rapid home-price appreciation left eight fewer “affordable” ZIP codes with sales prices under $600,000.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with Orange County homebuying stats from DQNews/CoreLogic, found 22 of the county’s 83 ZIP codes with median selling prices above $1 million vs. 14 a year earlier. Total closed sales of all residences — existing and new homes; single-family houses and condos; at all prices — were 3,895. That’s up 39% in from the locked-down scarred March 2020.

Those seven-figure communities had 979 sales equaling 25% of all Orange County homes sold. In March 2020, 661 residences were sold in ZIPS with $1 million-plus medians, or 24% of transactions.

Why? A buying binge created by cheap loans and few homes for sale. So, the countywide median for the month of $835,000 was up 10.6% in a year.

Bubble Watch tracks housing risks. Read it here!

At the other end of the pricing spectrum, Orange County’s “bargain” communities — medians of $600,000 and below — numbered seven vs. 15 a year earlier That’s 53% fewer sub-$600,000 ZIPs in a year.

Sales in these “affordable” ZIPs were 254 — making “bargains” 6.5% of all purchases. In March 2020, 130 purchases were in “bargain” ZIPs — or 4.6% of all sales.

The month before, there were 22 million-dollar ZIPs and 6 “affordable” communities.

Here’s the million-dollar ZIPs, highlighting communities new to the club, for March …

Newport Beach 92662: $3.73 million — up 15% in a year.

Corona del Mar 92625: $3.24 million — up 18% in a year.

Laguna Beach 92651: $2.57 million — up 38% in a year.

Newport Beach 92661: $2.48 million — off 3% in a year.

Newport Coast 92657: $2.17 million — off 33% in a year.

Villa Park 92861: $2.16 million — up 78% in a year.

Irvine 92603: $2.08 million — up 25% in a year.

Newport Beach 92663: $2.05 million — up 3% in a year.

Newport Beach 92660: $2.03 million — up 23% in a year.

Dana Point 92624: $1.38 million — up 15% in a year.

Irvine 92602: $1.35 million — up 12% in a year.

San Clemente 92673: $1.25 million (new) — up 40% in a year.

Santa Ana 92705: $1.20 million — up 19% in a year.

Dana Point 92629: $1.16 million (new) — up 24% in a year.

Trabuco/Coto 92679: $1.16 million (new) — up 36% in a year.

Los Alamitos 90720: $1.15 million (new) — up 16% in a year.

San Juan Capistrano 92675: $1.13 million (new) — up 20% in a year.

Huntington Beach 92649: $1.07 million (new) — up 20% in a year.

Huntington Beach 92648: $1.05 million (new) — up 10% in a year.

Yorba Linda 92887: $1.05 million (new) — up 30% in a year.

San Clemente 92672: $1.05 million — off 0.2% in a year.

Seal Beach 90740: $1.01 million (new) — up 1% in a year.

Here’s Orange County’s lowest-priced ZIPs in March …

Stanton 90680: $596,500 — up 30% in a year.

Santa Ana 92703: $565,000 — up 9% in a year.

Santa Ana 92704: $542,500 — up 22% in a year.

Santa Ana 92707: $477,500 — off 8% in a year.

Laguna Woods 92637: $390,000 — up 11% in a year.

Santa Ana 92701: $314,000 — off 38% in a year.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

Exploring OC: Protected tidepools offer glimpse at life between land and sea

Rocks wedged between dry land and the salty sea can be a place of wonder – a unique ecosystem to explore when tides get low and critters show.

Orange County has plenty of tide pools to explore, but do you know which ones are protected?

  • Nine-year-old Cameron Weiss walks through a short tunnel on a tide pool hike led by OC Habitats at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ochre sea stars, purple sea urchins, sea anemones, and California mussels hang out in a tide pool near Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, CA on Monday, April 26, 2021. The area is part of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Nine-year-old Cameron Weiss and OC Habitats intern Kim Yumul check out the tide pools on a hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A purple sea urchin is found in a tide pool near Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, CA on Monday, April 26, 2021. The area is part of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Hikers come through a small tunnel and cave with an OC Habitats tide pool hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A bed of California mussels lies near Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, CA on Monday, April 26, 2021. The area is part of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • OC Habitats Associate Director Michaela Coats shows a lobster shell during a tide pool hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The exoskeleton doesn’t expand so the lobster sheds it in a molting process. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Sea anemone are one species found in tide pools at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Staff with OC Habitats lead a tide pool hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Sea hare eggs float in the tide pools at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Staff with OC Habitats lead a tide pool hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Gooseneck barnacles (white) and California mussels (dark blue/grey) live around the tide pools at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A black turban snail is one species found in tide pools at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Rock weed grows along tide pools at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • California mussels lie around an anemone in a tide pool near Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, CA on Monday, April 26, 2021. The area is part of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • OC Habitats staff and hikers check out the tide pools during a hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar, CA on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The protected area runs from the Newport Harbor entrance to Abalone Point in Laguna Beach. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Many are within Marine Protected Areas, with restrictions to protect the species that call the intertidal zone habitat home so they can thrive without human impact.

“It’s like an underwater national park,” said Stacey Chartier-Grable, executive director for OC Habitats, a group that runs monthly tours of the region’s MPAs.  “It’s a protected habitat, every MPA is a little different, depending on what’s going on in that habitat.”

Where to go

There are MPAs found from Northern California to the Mexico border. In Orange County, they include shore areas from Bolsa Chica to Crystal Cove, through Laguna Beach and into Dana Point.

In Los Angeles County, they include Point Dume north of Malibu and Point Vicente/Abalone Cove off Palos Verdes. Further north, the areas around Santa Barbara Island and the Channel Islands are also protected.

Some areas have restrictions, but still allow some fishing. Others, such as Laguna Beach and Point Vicente/Abalone Cove, are “no-take” zones, meaning nothing can be taken out of the ocean or from tide pools and beaches.

The MPAs were created in recent years as long-term protection for the delicate marine environments that were showing dire impacts from over fishing, pollution and habitat destruction.

“The tide pools and the whole area act as a nursery for the ocean. A lot of species start in the tide pools,” Chartier-Grable said.

The opaleye fish, for example, lives its first two years of life in the tide pools, which can provide shelter from larger prey looking for a snack. Then, when the fish are big enough, they venture out to the open ocean.

But that doesn’t mean they are safe from predators. Bird species thrive on the critters found in the pools.

“It’s a super critical habitat for the ecosystem and biodiversity of that area,” Chartier-Grable said.

What you’ll see

If you’re lucky you may spot an octopus, a nocturnal creature said to be as smart as a 3-year-old child, or Chartier-Grable said she recently saw an abalone, which were harvested to near extinction until it was made illegal to remove them from the ocean.

Another special sight are sea stars, becoming a more prevalent sight off the coast after millions were wiped out in recent years by a wasting syndrome.

Sea anemones are one of the more common sights, though actually seeing one isn’t always easy. They create a camouflage by covering their outer layer in broken shells and rocks, their own version of sunscreen to help from drying out in the sun when exposed.

Don’t get grabby

Some think it’s fun to poke the sea anemones and watch them move, but that makes them think they are being attacked and they release their sting response meant to paralyze prey. Though humans can’t feel the sting, that stinging cell takes 24 hours to regenerate.

“They are losing their ability to sting their prey and eat,” Chartier-Grable said. “If people are touching them constantly, they are unable to catch their food.”

The same goes for sea hares, a type of sea slug named for its little bunny-like antennas called rhinophores. Their slimy coating is protection against predators. If you pick a sea hare up, it removes their coating and makes them more vulnerable.

“Just to touch for the stake of touching,” Chartier-Grable said, “we do not recommend that.”

Avoid move creatures from one spot to another. And never try to take the creatures home, not even if you have an aquarium set up.

Not only is it illegal, many creatures won’t last more than 24 hours away from their ecosystem, even in salt water tanks.

“You’ll have a dead animal on your hands,” Chartier-Grable said.

One thing people can take from the MPA areas is sea glass. Though it can be pretty, it’s actually litter from broken glass that has been smoothed by the sand and waves and not part of the natural habitat, she said.

“They can take as much sea glass as they can find,” she said.

When to go

Hikes are best when there’s a really low tide, especially this time of year when there’s negative low tides during daytime hours. The summer and fall seasons don’t see the same drastic tidal swings as this time of year.

People can explore on their own or the OC Habitats’ tour takes about two hours, the next happening mid-June. More info: ochabitats.org

Being safe

Wear shoes rather than flip flops and try and avoid wet areas because the rocks can be very slippery.

Also be warned of big swell that can send sneaker waves onto rocks and knock people down. An incoming tide can also spell trouble if near caves or can shut off pathways as water rises.

You can check the tides through the weather forecast or Surfline.com. Ask the lifeguard on duty about any hazardous conditions.

Bring a camera. The best way to study the creatures is taking images to enjoy.