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12/30/2013 6:00:00 AM
Made in Kingman: Satisfaction is No. 1 at West Coast Netting
JC AMBERLYN/MinerMichelle Garcia (front) and Kay Ross work on the woven netting machine.
Michelle Garcia (front) and Kay Ross work on the woven netting machine.
JC AMBERLYN/MinerEmployees work on volleyball and paintball netting in the sewing room.
Employees work on volleyball and paintball netting in the sewing room.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The testimonials for West Coast Netting say it all.

"Just wanted to shoot you a quick email letting you know that the netting project you guys did has paid huge benefits this season," wrote Mike Rizzo, head basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. "We are extremely happy with the work that your crew did. I look forward to doing business with West Coast Netting in the future."

Scott Thomason from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., emailed, "You may not remember me, but in 2009 our baseball program purchased two 60-foot cages from you. We ordered the 96 weight net, and let me tell you, it's worth its weight in gold ... I will definitely keep you guys in mind when we decide to replace any netting needs at baseball and softball time. Your people are always friendly and prompt on questions or issues. Please tell them I look forward to working with them sometime in the near future."

It's satisfied customers like these who have kept West Coast Netting, 5075 Flightline Dr., in operation for so long.

The company was founded in 1954 and has grown from a garage business in City of Industry, Calif., to an international company located at Kingman Industrial Park, with a subsidiary in Cocoa, Fla.

West Coast Netting manufactures a variety of woven and knotted netting used in sporting arenas, restaurant play areas, amusement parks, country clubs, schools and the military.

The company, which makes traditional-size and made-to-order netting, has three construction crews that travel the U.S. and Canada, installing the steel poles made at West Coast Netting that hold up large nets. The business offers custom sewing, makes its own twine for some of the netting, prints vinyl advertisement banners for the tops and bottoms of netting and has a machine shop on the premises.

"Our daily bread and butter is our job shop," said vice president Kim Wirth. "We get calls from all over the world, and they're all looking for something different. They have unique ideas of what they want and there are all sorts of construction projects that people request. We're very proud of what we can do here."

In fact, West Coast Netting has an impressive list of locations where its products have been installed.

The backdrop netting for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres came from the company, Also, West Coast Netting crafted the rigging for Captain Hook's large sailing ship in "Peter Pan," as well as the gray cable fence, which is rope over a steel core, in "Jurassic Park."

The company was required to produce it within two months so it could be sent by boat to Guam, where the movie was filmed.

Wirth said West Coast Netting was the brainchild of her grandfather, Albert Lesle, who made fishing nets and the netting for basketball hoops in his garage in City of Industry, Calif. As the business grew, Lesle passed it on to his son, William Kirkland, who moved it into a 1,500-square-foot plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

In 1995 the company and about 20 of its employees moved to Kingman and settled in a two-floor, 80,000-square-foot facility on seven acres. Siblings Dan Kirkland, who is president, and Wirth took over the operation six years ago.

"Everything was getting really expensive in California and we needed more room for the company," said Wirth, who became the company's purchasing manager in 1998. "We couldn't expand there. We considered Reno, Kingman, Lake Havasu City and North Dakota, but we chose Kingman because of its proximity to I-40 and being close to Southern California. The weather is great here, and the cost of living is so much better. It was a good deal all around."

The company typically makes batting cages, softball and baseball netting, infield screens and training aids, soccer and badminton nets, volleyball nets and systems, water polo and hockey nets, tennis and archery nets, windscreens, table and paddle tennis nets, wall and rail pads, leach pond netting for mining sites, amusement park and restaurant play area nets, and military cargo and airplane refueling nets. Government contracts make up less than 5 percent of the company's work.

"When people go to a ball game and sit behind the netting so they don't get whacked by a ball, they rarely think of where that netting came from," said Wirth. "But we do. We make it."

Wirth said West Coast Netting, which has 48 employees in Kingman and eight employees in Florida, boasts 50 high-speed sewing machines here.

It also has a Liva woven knitting machine from Germany and three Toyo knotted knitting machines from Japan. The large knitting machines are worth about $250,000 each.

Wirth estimated the company manufactures about 200,000 pounds of knotted and woven netting each year in varying colors and mesh sizes. Some are dipped in a tank that places an acrylic coating on them for weatherproofing.

Even with the company's growth over the years, said Wirth, it has continued to remain a family-oriented business, with some employees going on 30 years of service. Wirth said West Coast Netting offers its employees a matching 401(k), health insurance and quarterly bonuses. Lori Trudo, bookkeeper and human resources administrator for the company, said she has enjoyed her 16 years as an employee.

"It's the best place I've ever worked for," said Trudo. "Kingman doesn't have a lot of employers a person could stay with long enough to reach retirement. This company is really good to its employees. West Coast Netting isn't for everyone, and not everyone is right for West Coast Netting. But once people come here and decide it's the place for them, they rarely leave."

Wirth said the company has regular meetings with employees, sharing previous expenses and sales reports so they know how things are going. Wirth said it is important to keep everyone informed so they will be motivated to produce more netting for customers.

"My family worked hard to make this company a success, and we appreciate all who have helped us along the way," said Wirth. "We offer a great product for a good price, and we get a lot of business from word of mouth referrals. But it's our employees who make everything work. Together, we're making a difference in our customers' lives."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: what the...

why is there no mention of the children Mr. Lesle ACTUALLY handed the company down too? No mention of his children at all. This article says he passed it on to his "son" William Kirkland... Is that not is "son-in-law"

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Article comment by: That's Kingman for Ya

"We considered Reno, Kingman, Lake Havasu City and North Dakota, but we chose Kingman because of its proximity to I-40 and being close to Southern California. The weather is great here, and the cost of living is so much better. It was a good deal all around." - That should be in an advertisement in the LA Times. But then again they would not know who to contact for further information since there is no competent recruitment entity. Hokey small town and the leaders like it that way. That's usually the message that gets out.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Article comment by: Glenda Erwin

I just had to share this article on Facebook. So interesting to see what's being made in Kingman and help promote this company and it's success. Thanks for keeping us informed about what's going on besides all the bad news!

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013
Article comment by: Kim Steele

Thanks, Justin! There are some very interesting companies here and it's a lot of fun to learn about what they do. Kim

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013
Article comment by: Justin Chambers

Another great, positive article that shows what Kingman has to offer. Good job KDM and Kim, this is written very well as was the last one on American Woodmark.

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