In his own words: Custom Stamping’s Woody Wurster
Name/title: Woody Wurster/President and chief executive officer, Custom Stamping Inc.
Number of years in this job: 44
Years in this profession: 60
Education: Vocational high school and Pratt Institute of Technology
Last book read: Technical books
What’s on your iPod: Simon & Garfunkel
Spouse, kids or pets: My wife of eight years is Julie. I have four sons.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Custom Stamping and the duties of your position.
Woody Wurster: Custom Stamping is a precision metal stamping company that makes contacts that go into any electronic device you can imagine. That would include automotive air bags, medical devices, military electronics, aeronautics — anything that uses electronic equipment. When someone requests a quote to make a progressive die and run the stamped parts for them, we determine what the tooling costs and what the price of the parts will be. We are taking about millions, or tens of millions of parts.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Wurster: I started right out of high school as a tool and die maker, and that progressed into this. Back then it was kitchen cabinet hinges and handles.
NNBW: When did you open your first facility, and why did you eventually move to Carson City?
Wurster: We opened in Southern California in 1970. We came here about 20 years ago because California got crazier than it normally was with fees, fines, taxes and lawsuits. We are 55,000 square feet.
NNBW: What do you like most about your job?
Wurster: I am very fortunate that I don’t consider myself working — I work at my hobby. I enjoy designing the tools and inventing products. It is just fun and exciting.
NNBW: What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
Wurster: Being competitive with China.
NNBW: What do you employ to stay competitive in the global marketplace?
Wurster: You have to have the most highly trained people and the latest and greatest equipment. We also have to do the more difficult products that China doesn’t do a good job on with quality. We have to figure out more creative manufacturing techniques and just be smarter than the competition.
NNBW: How did the recession change your business operations, and how have you recovered as the economy turned?
Wurster: Volumes are still way down. We had to scale back accordingly.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Wurster: I was probably 12 years old. I worked in a bakery in Queens squeezing jelly into jelly doughnuts.
NNBW: What’s your dream job and why aren’t you working it?
Wurster: I think I have got it right here. It’s fun, it’s what I do best, and I have the type of mind that’s inventive and creative.
NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you that’s helped you succeed as a business owner?
Wurster: It may be my upbringing — my parents were conservative, and it was their belief that if you didn’t have the money to buy something you didn’t buy it. You saved and when you had the money you bought it. They were never in debt with the exception of their house, and they worked very hard at paying that off. I am not in debt, and I never will be because I have the discipline not to buy it if I can’t afford it.
NNBW: How do you spend your free time away from work?
Wurster: Playing golf. I spend part of my time in San Diego, and I live on a golf course.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?
Wurster: I am pretty happy with my life and what I have accomplished and the things I have done. I have helped many people and employees be able to put their children through college, and there’s the things I have invented.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Wurster: I really don’t remember.
NNBW: At 78 you are well past the age most people choose to retire — is that in your future?
Wurster: Financially I could retire, but why should I? I am having too much fun.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Wurster: It’s a very short vacation, but I am going up to Sequoia National Park to spend a few days walking around in a peaceful place.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Wurster: When we decided to move out of California, we looked at Las Vegas, but we didn’t like the feel of it. Arizona had some really good features, but with the temperature at certain times of your, having to run your air condition 24/7 didn’t appeal to me. Nevada was a very business-friendly state. I am not fond of the cold weather, so that’s why I balance it out with living in San Diego.
To suggest a candidate for NNBW’s weekly question and answer column, look at our editorial calendar (http://apps.nnbw.com/utils/pdfs/9683736R.pdf) and contact reporter Rob Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 775-850-2146.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.