Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Nevada Heat Treating and the responsibilities of your position.
Harv Hornung: Nevada Heat Treating was started here in 1995. The big project they had back then was treating salad bar pans that were manufactured by Wells Manufacturing in Verdi. We are a local heat treater for the little machine shops around here. We take metals and either make them stronger or weaker — harden or anneal. We don’t manufacture, all we do is what our customers ask. We also do vacuum brazing where we take two metals and add a third alloy to it, put it in a furnace, melt the alloy and bond the parts together. As general manager I do everything you could think of, from answering phones to HR to working on health care and managing the folks on the floor.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Hornung: I worked for a company called Greatbatch after I got out of college and worked in their materials group forever. In 2001, Greatbatch bought a company out here by the Carson City Airport, and a good friend of mine came out here to help run it. They ran into a bunch of technical problems with their customer on a new product, and they asked for help — that was me. In 2002 I started coming out here to help out, and I really liked it. I transferred out here in May of 2002, and a year later we had a change of COO in Greatbatch back in New York who decided they were going to move the plant to Tijuana.In 2007 I moved over to general manager of a different company but it just didn’t fit my style so in summer of 2008 I started here.
NNBW: What do you like most about working in the heat treating industry?
Hornung: Ever since I was young as was first exposed to materials science or metallurgy, I have always enjoyed the fire, the flames, the heat — to me that is real metallurgy.
NNBW: What about the science behind the metallurgy?
Hornung: When you think about it, in heat treating heat is thermal processing. There is always a lot of heat involved, and you are looking at a transformation of the structure of the material from one to another. To me, that is cool. We take stuff that is dead soft, and make it really strong for a lot of applications.
NNBW: What is the most challenging aspect of working in this industry?
Hornung: We are lucky in that we don’t have any local competition. The challenging part is to continue serving our customers and get our name out there to potential customers.
NNBW: How do you find and develop your workforce since even skilled workers may not understand the requirements to work in heat treating?
Hornung: That is one of our biggest challenges. Pretty much anywhere in the country, you can’t just find people with heat treating experience. It’s not that common. We look for somebody that shows a spark or an interest and who will show up to work every day. We tell our people that if we train them to be a heat treater, they can go to any other city that has heat treatment and they can get a job. We invest a lot of time in them with hands on training, documentation, and we are actively involved in the Metal Treating Institute, which has a bunch of online classes they can go through. We have three people who have completed the program and have two others who are in it. We can’t send them to WNC, TMCC or UNR unless they want a bachelor’s degree.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Hornung: I worked at a drug store. It actually got me started in the materials industry. When I was a kid I was convinced I wanted to be an engineer for General Motors. I applied for GMI, General Motors Institute back in Flint, Mich., out of high school. I got accepted, but in the program you spent one-third of a year working in a sponsor plant. This was during the oil embargo in the mid ‘70s, so they cut the sponsorship and I never got to go. I got a part-time job at the drug store, and the guy I replaced had just graduated from a two-year materials science program and getting to know him really sealed my fate to get into the same program.
NNBW: If you could do anything, what would be your dream job?
Hornung: I have been very blessed; I have always been employed and never been laid off.
NNBW: How do you like to spend your time away from work?
Hornung: I like old cars — I have a ‘72 Chevy Nova — and I love my motorcycle.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change either personally or professionally?
Hornung: I have been really satisfied with my career. I have been blessed with wonderful children and have been very, very fortunate. Other than this, I would have liked to gone to GMI and become and engineer for General Motors. That would have been my dream job.
NNBW: If you could retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Hornung: It’s getting close, but to quote Marv Levy, the old coach of the Buffalo Bills, “Once you start thinking about retirement, you’ve already retired.” I try not to fall into that trap, but it has crossed my mind from time to time.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Hornung: The Bills-Chargers game in San Diego.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Hornung: Hanging out in Hawaii, or spending time with my kids, their husbands and my wife
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Hornung: In my 47 years in western New York, I got a little tired of the weather. This opportunity came up so I came out here. I enjoy the weather here, the folks, and the total openness. If you are from back East, you can’t do that. The outdoors here is just amazing.
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