For nearly 40 years, Greenbrae Trophy Center has been assisting Nevada and the surrounding area in honoring individual and team accomplishments, whether it is the completion of a pee-wee football season or achieving a career long goal.
“It goes from little league stuff all the way to corporations like Microsoft and US Bank,” said Leland Langhans, owner of Greenbrae Trophy Center. “It’s a mix of about 50-50. We do a little bit of sad stuff, too. We do a lot of urns and stuff like that. So we see the happy and the sad, but it’s mainly the happy.”
Rows and rows of trophies, plaques and awards fill the family-run business on Greenbrae Drive. While the majority of the prizes are sports-related, there are plenty of occasions such as weddings that are celebrated as well, including a number of fairly strange commemorations.
“We’ve done everything. We do the toilet seats for the Virginia City Outhouse Races to resignation letters,” Langhans said. “People will type their letter of resignation up and give it to us to engrave on a plaque and hand that to their boss. We have some crazy stuff that comes through here. That’s fun stuff when we get to do that.”
A staple in the Rail City for the past four decades, Greenbrae Trophy Center has seen plenty of unique requests, as well as many modifications to the industry.
“Trophies have changed a lot compared to even 10 years ago,” Langhans said, who has been working in the store for over 20 years. “Before, there were no acrylic awards. Now there’s engraving machines with lasers versus hand-engraving back in the day. I would have to hand-engrave when I was a kid and now it’s all through a machine. What would take two hours to do an 8x10 plaque with 100 words on it back then takes 10 minutes now with the technology.”
Regardless of the tribute or technology, Greenbrae Trophy Center has always strived to be the best and provide something original for its customers.
“Instead of the same old, ordinary trophy, it’s fun actually making something different,” Langhans said. “We’re just trying to make something that looks different, something where someone can walk in and say ‘Wow.’ With our sports stuff, we don’t want the same trophy every year. We’ll change it around and try to find some new stuff.
“We have everything. Anything you could imagine. Anybody could walk in at any hour and we’ll have it here. If they want bowling or a horse trophy or whatever it may be, we have over 2,000 figures here. Other companies would have to order it and you’re looking at three days later, but if you need it tomorrow morning, we can do it. Whatever they want, we’ve got here.”
That ingenuity and dedication to providing the best trophies around has made Greenbrae Trophy Center the largest trophy store in Nevada and northern California as the shop serves all of Nevada and into the Sacramento and Susanville areas. In spite of its success, it still has been hit by the recession.
“We need the economy to turn back around and for corporations to start spending more money. The trophies we make a little bit on, but the corporations are where we make our money,” Langhans said. “The recognition for corporations is just down right now. You don’t have many ‘employee of the month’ awards anymore. I guess the way the corporations look at it, they’re just lucky to have a job now. They’re not going to spend any extra money on awards.
“We’re down about 30-40 percent compared to five years ago because of the corporations not spending money. So we’re hoping after the election, whoever wins, that maybe the corporations will start buying some stuff and getting the economy rolling again.”
Despite those challenges though, Greenbrae Trophy Center continues to find joy in its business.
“It’s a good thing to be a part of. It feels good because people come to us to help them give something that they appreciate giving or that someone deserves,” Langhans said. “We do a lot of stuff that people take personal pride in. It’s just nice to engrave stuff that you know the person receiving it worked really hard to achieve and earn.”