Kiln manufacturer relocates to Minden business park
Nevada Appeal News Service
On Thursday, 27-year-old welder Pablo Villanueva stood in the bay door of a small Johnson Lane factory and gazed out at the Carson Range glistening with snow.
“Oregon was very green and beautiful,” he said. “Nevada is different. But it’s looking beautiful standing right here.”
Villanueva was one of four employees who made the move with Aim Kilns from Corvallis, Ore., to the Carson Valley Business Park in Johnson Lane.
The small manufacturer makes electric and gas-fired kilns ranging in size from small pot-sized models to kilns as large as walk-in freezers.
Inside their new building, white dust coated the floor where white bricks had been cut into building blocks. Villanueva said he welds metal plating over the bricks, while his coworkers wire the structures and install digital controller devices.
Dayton resident Joey Nielson, 24, was hired by Aim after the move.
“They’re teaching me how to do everything,” he said. “I like it a lot. It’s real interesting to see how these things are made.”
Aim Kilns was relocated to Carson Valley after South Lake Tahoe resident Graydon Gannam purchased the company. Former owner John Degenfelder was also at the factory on Thursday helping with equipment and overseeing the transition.
Degenfelder said he owned and operated AIM Kilns for 15 years before deciding to sell it.
“It had been around for 20 years before that,” he said. “It was started in 1966 outside of Santa Cruz by a little old man who liked to tinker.”
Degenfelder said the company’s customer list ranges from starving artists to the U.S. military.
“We always use to say we don’t care what’s cooking in the kilns,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago, it was all pottery. Then in the ’90s it was porcelain dolls. Now there’s a lot of fused glass.”
Powder-coated surgical instruments are also fired in Aim Kilns, Degenfelder said, as well as spray rings for F-15 Eagle fighter jets.
“The spray rings are what fed the fuel into the afterburners of the F-15s,” Degenfelder said. “So they’re used any place the U.S. has sold the planes, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, etc.”
Despite special applications, the majority of Aim’s kilns are bought and used by artisans, said office manager Susan Thorne.
“Most of the orders on the Web site come from glass blowers, bead makers, too,” she said.
Thorne was another employee who moved with the company from Oregon to Nevada.
“I like it here. I have always liked this area,” she said.
For more information about Aim, visit aimkilns.com.