Business boom, family roots bring tech leader back to Reno
A fourth-generation Nevadan, Rick Shaff has been at the helm of a number of Reno-based businesses in the course of his career. After leaving town to help lead a tech company in Austin, Texas, Shaff was drawn back to Reno by the recent boom in job opportunities, as well as his deep family roots here.
A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Shaff holds a degree in business administration with a focus on accounting. He met his wife, also a Nevada native, at the university. The couple — now married 33 years — wed shortly after college, and their first son was born here.
“Right after college, I worked in public accounting in Nevada for about five years. In 1987, I went to work for IGT and stayed with them for 11 years, spending the majority of that time overseas in Australia,” said Shaff. “When I came back to Reno, I went to work for a company called Sierra Design Group as vice president of operations and acting CFO.”
From there, Shaff became the CFO and soon the CEO of iGo, where the focus was laptop and cellphone batteries and accessories. When he and his team successfully sold iGo around 2001, Shaff started working as a consultant and also founded a business that imported reclaimed building products from abroad.
Reno was not the answer
“After that, I went to work for Black Rock Systems, a small locally owned startup — I went in as advisor and became CEO pretty quickly. I stayed four years until we got the company sold in 2010,” said Shaff. “At that point, the economy was horrible, and the Nevada economy was really bad. I was out of a job and looking for work, and the only thing I could find was not in Reno, it was in Austin.”
Shaff and his family moved to Texas and within a few years, he helped sell the Austin tech company that had hired him. That’s when Shaff and his wife founded their business consulting firm, ATP Partners.
“We decided Reno was home, this was where we wanted to live, and we moved back in 2014,” Shaff said. “I met with the team at EDAWN (Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada) and quickly found out that Reno is a really good place to be right now as far as job opportunities — I was very pleasantly surprised.”
Through ATP Partners, Shaff began working with Bristlecone Holdings, a Reno company that develops products for niche markets within the consumer finance space. In March 2016, the business hired Shaff as its full-time CFO.
He continues to serve as a consultant with ATP Partners on the side and also devotes time to community business development. Shaff is a member of NCET, Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and he also serves as a mentor with EDAWN, where he works for free with the founders of local companies. The goal is to help them achieve a significant level of growth and, in turn, create more job opportunities.
“If you look at where jobs are created in this country, they’re created through small companies, and Reno right now has a thriving small business community, and I think it’s going to get bigger and better and more robust,” said Shaff . “We also have a fairly aggressive economic program at both the state and local levels that will continue to attract large companies, which will help sustain infrastructure.
“There are a lot of people working hard to ensure that Reno has a really good future,” said Shaff . “Being born and raised here, to see where we are today makes me smile — it’s a good place to be.”