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A ‘model’ business

Ryan Carter

Growing up in an economically depressed part of Virginia, Gregg

Davidson took jobs hanging drapes, painting fences and installing

carpets to make ends meet. Eventually, his mechanical ingenuity and


penchant for fixing things led to a job at Lockheed, a college

education in construction management and a job as foreman.

All the while, Davidson was a hobbyist who loved working with

models and what he called “gizmos.” Little did he know that a trip to


Virginia, a reunion with a high school sweetheart and his interest in

radio-controlled cars, trucks and airplanes would lead to Gizmo’s,

his Burbank-based business.

Gizmo’s, a 2,500-square-foot hobby shop at 2010 Burbank Blvd., has

been named the 2003 Hobby Store of the Year by the National Retail

Hobby Stores Assn. and Model Retailer magazine.

“This was a great honor,” said Carol Wagner, manager of the store

and Davidson’s partner. “We’d been striving for this for about five


years. I kept telling Gregg that I really want to get this, and I’d

really like to beat the other stores of the year.”

That motivated Wagner, who -- after coming into the business

knowing nothing about models -- now runs the business.

The store, which has four employees -- not including Wagner and

Davidson -- specializes in radio-controlled cars, trucks and

airplanes and the accessories that go with them. It also has a repair

department that will help radio-control car modelers with their


racing or flying items. Since it opened in 1997, the store has also

worked with community groups, schools, and donated items for raffles

and for charity.

Wagner and Davidson, who were high school sweethearts, have built

the business into one that last year boasted more than $1 million in


Davidson attributed his store’s success to a strong work ethic

coupled with humility. Growing up poor and having to earn a living at

a young age fostered skills that he applied to the business world.

“You’ll find if you work hard, sure you will have obstacles, but

the end result is that you will have something,” he said.

Of course, Davidson and Wagner have done it together.

“For all practical reasons, she’s the boss,” Davidson said.