Greenbrae Trophy Center began its legacy by selling sporting goods more than a quarter of a century ago.
Later, the store sold trophies. At that time, the trophy business was just a side business for attracting customers. But about 20 years ago, the store took a gamble by moving to a larger location at 540 Greenbrae Dr. to specialize in trophies and plaques.
Today, the Sparks retailer traces its roots to three generations of trophy making by the Langhan family, which has run the historic trophy center since it opened. Lee Langhan handles the day-to-day operations of the store that his grandfather built.
Most of the store’s business relies on schools for its trophy sales. In fact, about 40 percent of the store’s business comes from the University of Nevada, Reno, Langhan said during an interview.
And sporting events contribute to big business for trophy dealers. The store is now planning new trophy designs for football and soccer season. The store also focuses on basketball, track and field and swimming awards.
But Langhan said the store also creates plaques and awards for corporations, clubs, celebrations, anniversaries, employee retirements, and a host of other occasions. The Reno-Sparks Convention Center also requests a variety of plaque and trophy assignments for the store.
On a typical day at work, Langhan scans his work orders to find out what type of engraving design he’ll need to fit the occasion. Some themes are simple, others are funny or sad. The list includes assembling engravings for the “World’s Best Wife” award and ‘Beauty Queen of the Year.” The most unusual, he said, was designing a plaque for a competitive pigeon and chicken event. He said pet urns also sell well with customers.
Langhan said that engraving technology has changed rapidly over the years.
“Every engraver has a different way of how they lay a plaque out,” he said. “Back then (more than 30 years ago) engraving was done on a pantograph. This was an engraving machine. My dad still works on one. He does all the jewelry designs the old school way—but now most of the work is done by laser engraving.”
He said the biggest advantage with the store’s $50,000 laser machine is that it can run all night. He said that a plaque that would take about 10 minutes to complete on a laser machine would take more than an hour to finish using a pantograph.
Now on a busy day, he said the shop can handle more than 400 trophy orders. He said the store continues to get a lot of repeat customers for its customer service and large inventory of trophies for every type of theme.
“We’re well known in the community not just because we’ve been in the area for a while, but we also give a lot back to the Sparks community through our charity and donation work.”