Lion Electric opened in McClellan Business Park in December, but may be temporarily closing in the wake of the coronavirus. (Photo by Graham Womack)

Status Check: McClellan Park

Electric school bus company that moved to the development in December may temporarily close due to coronavirus

Back Web Only Mar 18, 2020 By Graham Womack

Dustin McAllister stood by the doorway of Lion Electric on March 17, not sure if an order would come from his company’s headquarters in Canada to temporarily shutter his location in McClellan Park.

The coronavirus has upended operations for businesses around the Sacramento region and beyond, creating stress and uncertainty while new cases are diagnosed and deaths reported by the day.

McAllister has been the service manager since September for his company’s new location, which opened in December. Aside from a global pandemic, it’s been a fine run in the new location for Lion, one of the latest companies to join the thriving business park.

Comstock’s took a long look last year at the history of the site (“Former Base is Booming,” July 2019), which opened as McClellan Air Force Base in 1939, closed in 2001, and was transformed into a business park by developer Larry Kelley.

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Sacramento County Economic Development Director Troy Givens previously told Comstock’s that the business park had helped contribute hundreds of millions of dollars regionally, saying, “We have a thriving business park where we have a lot of activity and a lot of people reinvested and making investments in creating jobs, which is positive all the way around.”

This includes Lion, which was founded in 2008 and operates and repairs all-electric school buses for districts across California. McClellan Park Senior Vice President of Leasing Ken Giannotti noted in a January statement, touting Lion’s opening, that Lion “has delivered over 200 electric school buses in the United States, and California has received the vast majority of those zero-emission school buses.”

One of the biggest customers, McAllister said in a phone interview March 10, has been Twin Rivers Unified School District in North Sacramento. Giannotti noted in his statement that Lion had delivered 18 Lion buses to Twin Rivers as part of the California Energy Commission’s School Bus Replacement Program.

Ample space at McClellan Park has been helping Lion meet demand. McAllister said the new location for his company has nearly 24,000 square feet of space as opposed to just 5,000 square feet at its old location. “We can basically work on more buses and store more buses,” McAllister says. “We need the space to work on more buses because we’re growing so fast.”

In less than six months, Lion went from two service technicians to five, also hiring an office staff person. McAllister’s position as service manager is also a new one for his branch. “We’ve been growing super-fast,” McAllister said. “We have over 20 buses here. It’s just a really good location, really good office layout, good setup. All my techs are happy, and I’m happy here. So it’s working out great.”

Lion joined a wide assortment of other tenants at the business park, with Comstock’s noting last year included a Walmart transportation office, offices for Gateway Community Charter Schools and a U.S. Foods Holding Corps distribution center.

McAllister expressed optimism when asked during the March 10 call if McClellan Park appeared to be a long-term fit for Lion. “Definitely, it’s looking that way,” McAllister said. “It’s the perfect layout for us, perfect situation for what we need to do.”

In a March 16 Facebook post, the company said it was taking precautions and that it was prioritizing digital communications, but that otherwise it would be business as usual. As of publication time, the company hadn’t updated its page beyond this.

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