Iomega still around in Roy but not like it once was

Mar 9 2012 - 1:02pm

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When Iomega opened its doors in 1980, along 1900 West and 4000 South, it was with a great deal of forethought and planning.

Now, 32 years later, what was once one of the biggest employers in Weber County still makes a small contribution to Roy's business district, but nothing like it once did.

The two parts of the Iomega campus, one on the east side and the other on the west side of 1900 West, are now filled with a variety of businesses, such as banking, education and restaurants.

Iomega was established in 1980 with the introduction of the Bernoulli removable storage computer drive. The company alternated between success and struggle until 1995, when it introduced the Zip drive and became the darling of the high-tech industry.

By the end of 1997, sales had skyrocketed to $1.7 billion and there were about 2,000 Iomega employees in Utah.

But the company hasn't found that level of success since, and its sales and employee count have gradually dwindled. Several hundred employees lost their jobs when manufacturing operations moved to Malaysia in 1997. When that didn't work out, Iomega opened a manufacturing facility in Ogden in 1999, but that operation also ended after just two years because of steadily decreasing demand for its products.

David Norton, cofounder of Iomega, still lives in Ogden. He said he and partners were looking for the perfect location to start Iomega. Norton was living in Arizona and offered to take a look at the Salt Lake City area. Some of the investors came to check it out and weren't happy with what they saw. Norton suggested the group go north to the Ogden area.

"I knew Hill Air Force Base was around there, and we could get a good pool of employees," he said.

The investors loved what they saw, so plans went forward to open Iomega at the Roy location.

City Manager Chris Davis admits it was a blow when a significant portion of Iomega left Roy, but city officials knew they had to stay on top of things to help bring more business into the Iomega buildings.

Both Norton and Davis said Iomega succeeded in bringing a great workforce to the area. Norton added that it was the best part of being in Roy:

"My greatest enjoyment was the employment it offered. It was a very dedicated workforce."

Among the larger offices on the Iomega campus, Citigroup brought in 250 employees to the west side of the former Iomega complex last May and America First has nearly 300 employees.

Iomega Chief Operating Officer Mike Nikzad said the city of Roy has been one of the main keys to Iomega's success. In 2008 Iomega was acquired by EMC which is now headquartered in Massachusetts. "We decided to stay in Roy after the acquisition because we have such a talented group of professionals," Nikzad said. The Roy campus is still the single largest site of Iomega employees in the world, although Nikzad declined to say how large the workforce is there.

The downsizing at the Roy campus was never about moving jobs from the Roy site, it was because the company was changing, Nikzad said. "Technology becomes obsolete quickly -- sometimes you have to reinvent and reposition your employment."

Reporter Jeff DeMoss contributed to this story.

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