Hot Rod Calc gains traction for Carson's Calculated Industries

Calculated Industries, the Carson City company whose specialty calculators are beloved of builders and real estate experts, is moving into a new fast lane.

The company is negotiating with distributors of high-performance automotive gear to market a newly developed calculator that targets the automotive racing industry.

The Hot Rod Calc provides information such as compression ratios and allows racers to predict in real time how weather or elevation - even changes in tires - will affect vehicle performance at the track.

The product took second-place honors among new products at the largest trade show in the automotive specialty products industry this month.

"The response was fantastic," says President Steve Kennedy. "Our challenge now is to find the right partner."

That's important, Kennedy says, because Calculated Industries needs an experienced partner to open new distribution channels. It's possible, he said, that the automotive calculator would be manufactured by Calculated Industries - which has a staff of 43 at Carson City - but branded with the name of the partner.

"The guys we're talking to are at the top of the mountain of automotive performance," Kennedy says.

The idea for Hot Rod Calc had been kicking around Calculated Industries for two decades, ever since a former employee showed executives the charts he used to make calculations for his weekend hobby of drag racing.

But Kennedy says executives weren't hot on the idea because Calculated Industries had a history of flops with other hobbyist-oriented calculators.

They began changing their minds three years ago, however, when a specialty calculator for quilt-makers - another suggestion from an employee - proved to be a big hit.

Calculated Industries' marketing and product development staffs began working on the Hot Rod Calc about a year ago and had a model ready to show during Hot August Nights. Market testing this fall supported the company's decision to move ahead.

The decision got more horsepower from the company's drive to diversify beyond its strong base in specialty calculators for the construction, real estate and mortgage industries.

"Even though it's a small space, we own the specialty application calculator market," Kennedy says.

At the same time that Hot Rod Calc appears to be gaining traction, the company's construction and real estate products are experiencing a mild uptick in sales.

"It's an uphill battle, but to borrow a phrase from the auto industry, the worst for us is in the rearview mirror," Kennedy says.


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