Hope springs eternal

After working more than 30 years for others as a carpenter, Greg Wilson of Carson City stepped out on his own and started Creative Construction and Electric.

Wilson is hardly alone in starting a new business despite the worries of the recession.

For many, working for themselves, for better or worse, beats working for someone else. And others are starting businesses after losing their jobs in a layoff.

Despite the bonding requirements and other overhead associated with obtaining his contractors license, Wilson, 48, felt the time was right to garner a bigger share of what little construction work remains in Carson City. (There were zero new housing starts in the state capital for June and July.)

He faces competition from handymen, who can legally only work hourly on jobs of less than $500 and don't face state regulations.

"The challenge is that you have to price yourself for the competition. There is a lot of competition out there and they are not licensed," Wilson says. "Carpenters who are laid off don't have other jobs to go to. You see them down at Lowe's advertising for handyman service. There's a lot of competition out there, which drives prices down."

Like others in the slow market, he relies on personal contacts.

"At 48, it's a little late in life to be making a go at it," he says. "I am doing better than most I get a lot of business through my church but working four days a week is not the same as working five."

Duane Duplantis, who bought A-1 Anti Freeze Recycling in Reno this summer, also tired of working for others. With a background in accounting he figured he could successfully run a small business.

"Although there is a small profit margin, the business has a very high profit potential," Duplantis says. 'It is a small business and is very easy to run."

Duplantis says increasing his customer base is a priority, but it requires long hours. The volume of work at auto repair shops, which supply much of his business, is down.

"I am taking a more proactive approach. I approach customers rather than wait for them to call me.

"The business is not making the amount of money as it did before I bought it, but it's still reasonably profitable," Duplantis adds. "If I am willing to work 10 to 12 hours a day, I can probably make something pretty good out of it."

Sean Nelson, a senior communications major at the University of Nevada, Reno, founded College Beer Pong Championships LLC with partners Casey McRoberts, Davis Putt and Geoff Deal. They hosted their first event in August at the Downtown Reno Ballroom.

But the success of a concert that accompanied the beer pong event prompted Nelson and pals to abandon their original business plan and move instead into concert promotion.

"I think I would be one of youngest concert promoters in Reno," Nelson says.

Nelson decided about a year ago that he wanted to be an entrepreneur and his own boss. He left a stable, fulltime job at the Silver Legacy to pursue his own career path.

"I am all smiles, but the parents are on my back about it," Nelson says. "The numbers just came out for UNR grads only about 17 percent are getting jobs, and most of them are bank tellers. It is about making our own jobs. That is the reason we paid for our college. The money is out there."

Kandi Street recently opened The Black Tangerine bar at the location of her other business venture, Ideal Cars and Trucks at 9825 S. Virginia St. The 38-year-old street says running the 3,000-square-foot bar has gone smoothly, but increasing the number of customers has proven challenging.

"Everyone says it takes time, that is the main thing," she says. "I need to find money for advertising. I basically opened with nothing."

Street decided to open a bar because of the high-traffic location and the fact that car sales were tanking. She remodeled and decorated the interior of the space with help from friends.

Karen Kremers, a clerk with the Washoe County Business License and Code Enforcement department, says many people filing for new business licenses are victims of layoffs.

She says business license applications are common in landscape maintenance, secretarial work, janitorial and housecleaning jobs that typically have required little investment or specialized training.

"A lot of people are out of work, and are doing whatever they can to earn money," she says. "Most of our businesses are home-based businesses."


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