Made in Nevada Small business reports a profit in 2003 |

Made in Nevada Small business reports a profit in 2003

Becky Bosshart
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal John Claudino of Aztec Manufacturing holds the machined aluminum parts he manufactures below the model train cars they will eventually become part of.

Aztec Manufacturing is tucked into an industrial area in northeast Carson City, where John Claudino both manufactures and sells his modified train cars. Although it’s small, he’s blaring a whistle in the model-train world.

His niche business profited in 2003 like many other small businesses as the economy gained momentum, according to The Small Business Economy report put out by the Small Business Administration.

Small businesses represent half of the U.S. economy’s output, according to the administration. They employ about half of the private sector work force and fill needed niche markets, such as model trains.

Putting it plainly, Claudino buys model train cars and modifies the engines to accommodate what the hobbyists call “decoders,” which allows a hobbyist to run cars individually.

“We don’t make the cars; we just make them better,” the 66-year-old Carson City resident said Thursday with a chuckle.

He also adds specialized details to model cars to make them more “true to life” for the train enthusiasts. Details include an electric blinking light on a caboose, or a motor that grinds out a sound imitating a refrigerator car. Claudino also invented his own type of car that cleans the track as it goes.

His “Made in Nevada” certificate from the Nevada Commission of Economic Development hangs on the wall of his Conestoga Drive office.

Claudino said his business income increased about 15 to 20 percent this year over 2003.

But he works the job because he loves it, not for money.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2004 report to the president, Nevada’s employer firms increased from 47,340 in 2002 to 48,929 in 2003. Self-employment businesses increased from 53,000 to 55,000 in 2003.

To compete with bigger business, often located in Reno, family-owned companies rely on quality service.

Gary Lyon, executive director for the Community Business Resource Center, said “dollars spent locally are coming back to the community to help increase our quality of life here.

“If you spend elsewhere, those dollars go to another community,” he said.

Eclipse Screens of Nevada, 3650 Research Way, tries to install a customer’s retractable screens with no longer than a week’s wait, said co-owner Etta Scharmann. She and her husband, Larry, sell “high-end retractable screens for doors and windows.”

Scharmann said they sold about 10 Christmas gift certificates in 2003. She loaned out the window screen model to one gift giver, who wrapped it up along with the specially made gift certificate to put under the tree.

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 and the number of employer firms increased by .3 percent over the year, according to the report, which was released in November. The number of unincorporated self-employment firms increased by 3.7 percent.

Joseph Tonino, vice president of the Sausage Factory in Carson City, said he expects the business to grow 10 to 15 percent next year.

“I feel very strongly about the economy right now as far as my business is concerned,” he said. “And this area has been growing for the past 10 years at a solid pace. As the population grows my business grows.”

The Sausage Factory has been at 2559 Sage St. since 1968. It makes sausages, a full deli line and imports and distributes European meats, seafood and cheeses.

Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.