Retro Manufacturing’s Best Bet: Moving to Las Vegas
By Alexandria Hughes, LVGEA Intern
Moving to Las Vegas has turned up the dial for classic car audio manufacturer, Retro Manufacturing. Retro Manufacturing’s president, Steve Harrington, boasts about how life-changing the move from California to Southern Nevada has been for him, his employees, and his organization. By relocating, Harrington was able to invest in his employees and his company like never before, and he thanks the vibrant and ever-expanding city of Las Vegas for that.
Harrington loves the opportunities, experiences, and overall quality of life that Las Vegas offers the lucky locals who call Southern Nevada home. Aside from no Nevada state income tax, a thriving and growing economy, quick commute times, and year-round sunshine, Las Vegas has some of the best eateries and entertainment options of any city. Locals like Harrington and his employees get to experience these pleasures and many more by living here! Read below for his thoughts on living and doing business here. Responses have been edited for brevity.
What are some of the advantages you’ve found about doing business in Southern Nevada?
We called Southern Nevada to set up our LLCs to form a business to move here, and they picked up the phone and actually answered and invited us to come by, and we did the paperwork very quickly which was the beginning of the difference of being in California and being in Nevada. Moving my company here, I moved, I think, five people and since we’ve been here, we’ve hired 20 people. I was paying the top tax rate in California, so that means I was paying 13% in state tax which with the growth of the company was a lot of money.
Moving to Nevada, I didn’t have to pay that. It allowed me to start a 401k for my people to retain them and make them a bit happier. I was able to hire better people. In California, quite a few of my employees lived paycheck to paycheck because of the cost of living. You can imagine that if their car had a big issue or [they] had a medical issue or something came up, if I didn’t help them they were unable to solve that problem. I bought transmission and engines and those kinds of things because my employees were living paycheck to paycheck. [In] Nevada that isn’t the case. Most of my employees have houses and nice cars that function well, they go on vacation, it’s a different environment to run a business because the employees can afford to live here. I feel it has quality of life and lifestyle.
Here I have a voice, I feel like I’m part of everything. I feel like Nevada wants to do the right thing for the people that live here, I truly believe that. People that are elected in this state, both parties, I think, listen to the people that live here, I think they want to make our lives better.
Why did you relocate?
To grow my business, I have to invest in people, inventory, tooling, and engineering. Moving allowed me to invest that money which was a lot, into my company, into my people. So I moved, simply put for tax reasons, but when you say that people are like well you don’t want to pay your fair share. I think that our government in Nevada is accountable to the people, and when they spend our money they try to get a lot of value from them, the people that live here, the population, I don’t feel that in California.
I was concerned about being able to pay my taxes. I can hire more, I can pay them more, and I can invest that money in the company also in inventory, engineering, tooling, and travel.
Can you tell us about your involvement in the Foreign Trade Zone program and how it helps Retro Manufacturing?
Well, 20% of our business and growing is exporting. There’s already a high tariff in most countries so when I ship to England, Poland, or Japan, they pay a tariff to get the product, right? So if I were to raise my pricing 25% with what my dealers already pay to import it, it would not have been sellable. I think that this program saved 20% of my business and instead of losing, I’m growing it. How about that?
What are some of the opportunities afforded to you as a business owner and resident in Southern Nevada?
I love music. I go to a concert a month. Nevada has two things: it has quality of life, meaning things are cheaper, affordable, you know, your money goes further, right? Buy a nicer house or whatever. And it has lifestyle that you wouldn’t have unless you lived in New York, London, Paris, you know, Frankford, or Berlin, truly we have a big city lifestyle better than most and its really affordable. So it’s like a magic combination. Last night, I went to a Knights game, incredible Knights game. I was home, I would say at 10:45 in my bed [laughs], that’s pretty good! At first, I went to NoMad and had a really nice dinner with my son. Thursday night I’m going back, I’m going to Joe’s [Seafood, Prime Steak & Prime] Crab, one of the top steakhouses in the world, and going to another Knights game.
What are some of your favorite parts about living here as a resident?
I think my life is a bit calmer. My company’s grown, probably doubled since I moved here. There’s less traffic, less problems, less issues. My employees are under less stress. It’s a less stressful place to have a company. I think that I will do this longer because this is a good place to have a business. It just functions, it just fits well. I like to work and when I don’t work, there’s a lot of great things to do.
I went to dinner at Bobby Mesa Grille, right across from the venue at Caesars, and went to see James Taylor in concert. [We were] able to get really good seats; amazing, great venue. I think it’s really well designed, [you can] get close to the artist. I don’t know why but, when I go to a concert in California it costs 30-75% more.
I saw this great concert, I’ve never seen [James Taylor] before, and walking out my wife says Gordan Ramsay has this really great world renown toffee pudding that we should try. How many people have that lifestyle, right? And actually, it is affordable here.