Clark County at Work: Luna’s Puppets
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Business name: Luna’s Puppets.
Owners: Kevin and Andrea Gorby.
Address: 310 S.E. First St., Battle Ground.
What the business does: Luna’s Puppets creates animatronic creatures, animals and monsters for movies and commercials, designing and creating them fully in-house. The company made a set of puppet gerbils for a Kia commercial and has developed an entire cast of animatronic monsters. Kevin Gorby said his puppets are distinguished by specialty triggers, which bring them to life — blinking, winking, smiling, snarling and ear wiggling.
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How has the economy affected your business: Gorby was building hydraulic helicopter hooks and milling prototype designs before he lost his job and was forced to go on unemployment. As his unemployment was running out, he needed to make some money. He and his wife, Andrea, decided to make puppets and sell them. Sales were so slow in the first six months that they started giving them away. But things picked up that Christmas. They made 10 more characters and started exploring animatronics. Now business is strong, Kevin Gorby said.
Greatest challenge: The greatest challenge is keeping customers happy. Sometimes Gorby has to build a creature four or more times because a customer changes their mind about what they want. Another challenge, he said, is creating new creatures that are going to be popular with customers. He never knows what is going to work and what will be a total flop.
What’s ahead: Gorby has signed on with a production company for a film that will require him to shut down most sales at his site. He will need to hire builders and move into a larger facility. He also will develop some new lines of puppets which will operate by control line and begin building with latex molds for skin textures to create more lifelike creatures.
Year established in Clark County: June 2008.
Employees: Three, plus contractors for specialized jobs.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.