When the Pinehaven Fire roared across 500 acres in southwest Reno Nov. 17, destroying five homes and forcing the evacuation of 1,200 other residences, Kurt Hoge watched the conflagration on television.
“That was the neighborhood that I first lived in when we moved to Reno from Truckee when I was a sophomore in high school,” said Hoge, the owner of Reno Type. “I saw the neighborhood and houses that I recognized in flames. I wanted to do something to help.”
Hoge called the Atlantis Hotel-Casino and reserved a block of 25 rooms that were made available to evacuees. He spoke to a friend who secured another 10 rooms for families displaced by the fire.
“So many people are struggling so hard in the pandemic,” he said. “I’m doing fine, but so many people aren’t. I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but when I saw the fire, I thought that buying a couple thousand dollars worth of hotel rooms is within my means.”
Empathy and sympathy
Hoge said maybe he has a form of “survivor’s guilt,” but those who know him said they weren’t surprised by his generosity in November. It’s in his nature, they said.
“He really feels for people,” said Davey Worthey, production manager at Reno Type. “He feels for the community. He genuinely wants to make sure people are OK. He loves this community and wants to keep it thriving and moving in a good direction.”
“I think it’s (Hoge’s) general empathy, his sympathy, for people in general that drives him to help people. Like the fire – people couldn’t go home – and he feels for them. He knows he’s just a little guy, but if every little guy would do half of what he does, the community is going to be better during these hard times.”– Davey Worthey, production manager at Reno Type.
“Kurt Hoge is the real deal; just a solid dude,” said Rachel Gattuso, founder and president of the Gattuso Coalition, a Reno communications firm that works with many local non-profit groups and charities. Reno Type regularly offered a 20% discount to non-profit entities, she said, but during the pandemic the firm did printing at or below cost for groups that had to depend on direct-mail fund-raising in lieu of their cancelled in-person events.
Some non-profit organizations are doing fairly well during the pandemic, Hoge said. Many were able to secure government loans under the CARES Act and “many people have been a bit more generous with their giving.” Still, he said, non-profit groups always need support. “I try to help organizations that are doing good work,” he said.
Hoge, a graduate of Reno High School and the University of Nevada, Reno, ran a non-profit called Project Great Outdoors about 20 years ago. The organization enabled kids from urban neighborhoods to take river raft trips and experience the wilderness. After awhile, the rafting experience expanded from an adventure trek to include more of a “teaching and experimental education” component, he said. “It also became about the kids exploring their connections – with the world, themselves and with others.”
Project Great Outdoors also was an education for Hoge, who was suddenly writing grants, dealing with development directors and learning about the challenges faced by non-profit groups. “It opened my eyes to a whole world of work that needed to be done,” he said.
Schools and small businesses
When Hoge sees a need, he often takes action, Worthey said. When Washoe County Schools reopened, Hoge started a GoFundMe account for Alice Maxwell Elementary School in Sparks to cover the costs of signs that were needed to comply with the new COVID-19 safety rules. “That way, the money didn’t have to come out of the school’s budget for the kids,” Worthey said.
“Reno Type also printed COVID-19-related signs, posters, and door hangers that are free to people who needed them,” Gattuso said. In addition, she said, Reno Type helped out the Nevada Landscape Golf Tournament, an event that raises money to assist small local businesses.
Evolution of printing
Hoge has owned the business for 18 years. Reno Type is the only union print shop in Northern Nevada and does a lot of the direct-mail printing for local political campaigns. The firm began 30 years ago and was a local pioneer in digital printing technology. It handles the usual on-paper print jobs, but also does fine-art reproduction and printing on promotional items, including mugs, pens, key chains, tote bags and anything else that will take an image.
The company also offers mailing and addressing services and 3-D environment scanning, which allows computer users to virtually tour a location in three dimensions. With Hoge at the helm, the business has evolved light years beyond what Ben Franklin ever could have imagined. Even in this digital dimension, though, the heart of the business beats with the rhythm of presses turning out tangible products that can be held in a human hand.
“I thought I’d run Reno Type for five years and then retire,” Hoge said. “I was wrong; I just kept going.”
The community matters
He said making more money isn’t what motivates him.
“I see Reno Type as an extension of me, but it exists not only to enrich me. It’s capitalism; I’m trying to make money. But making money does me no good if I live in a town that isn’t also thriving. Giving back is a key part of Reno Type’s corporate culture.”– Kurt Hoge, owner of Reno Type.
Hoge said he doesn’t think his views are uncommon. “One of the reasons I love this area is, on the whole, people are very kind and very generous,” he said. “What’s holding us back isn’t our generosity, it’s our means. Too many people have the choice of eating or of giving. There’s no shortage of generosity; there’s a shortage of ability to give. Housing prices are high and wages are low.
“My belief is that we all do better when we all do better.”