PROGRESS: Manufacturers wait for credit to loosen |

PROGRESS: Manufacturers wait for credit to loosen

Brian Duggan

While it’s been a difficult year in Carson City for manufacturers, some have managed to save and even add jobs, with other companies planning on expanding or making a move to Carson City by next year.

“It was a tough year with a couple notable exceptions,” said David Steiger, project manager for Nevada Industry Excellence. “What I see is companies have learned to operate in a leaner fashion, they’ve figured out what’s essential to their operation, really as a sort of defensive measure.”

What that means, Steiger said, is companies can be prepared for an upturn in the economy if it happens next year.

Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, said a tight credit market has made it difficult for companies to expand or relocate to the area.

“Most of our companies have been down or flat, most of them have been down about 10 to 15 percent,” he said..

Despite a tough year for many businesses, Bacon said some Carson City manufacturers, which span the aerospace, food, automotive and computer industries, for example, have the potential to start growing again next year given the diversity of their respective markets.

Collie Hutter, the chief operating and financial officer for Click Bond Inc., said the aerospace fastener manufacturer did about as much business in 2009 as it did in 2008.

That means, “zero growth in sales, but it was zero loss in sales,” Hutter said. “We are looking forward to 2010 in anticipation of what we hope will be a stronger year.”

The company is also expanding with 30,000 more square feet of leased manufacturing space in Carson City next year in anticipation of more bookings and sales. The company also made Boeing’s list of gold star suppliers in 2009.

“We’re looking forward to a certain amount of growth due to some long term contracts…. also that some projects that were delayed are starting to move forward again,” Hutter said.

Click Bond, which incorporated 22 years ago in Carson City, is looking to expand its product line into ships and railroad cars.

Meanwhile, Carson City officials are also looking forward to a productive 2010 in the manufacturing sector, with dozens of companies considering a move to Carson City, said Rob Hooper, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Other positive notes from 2009 include a five-year, $15 million contract awarded to Chromalloy Nevada in Carson City to help repair parts for U.S. Navy ships.

And despite a stagnant construction market, American Buildings Co., which produces fitted sheet metal for steel buildings, has not laid off an employee this year, said Carson City production manager Tony Norris.

The company, which steel-maker Nucor purchased two years ago, also constructed baseball bullpens for local high schools this year, Norris said.

Calculated Industries, a Carson City-based calculator maker, took accolades at an automotive industry conference in Las Vegas this year for its Hot Rod Calc designed for racing crews to figure out tire pressure and real-time performance for their cars.

Bacon said in order for Nevada’s manufacturing base to thrive again, California’s economy must recover to spur buying while credit needs to unthaw for companies considering the Sierra region for a relocation.

“When California gets a cold, we get the flu,” Bacon said. “There’s more truth than fiction to that.”