Local company mourns loss of co-founder in plane crash

Published: Sep. 1, 2016 at 5:10 PM PDT
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Employees at Victory Woodworks are mourning the loss of co-founder and President Jim Elliker. The company is headquartered in Sparks but has employees all over Nevada and Northern California. Elliker died in a plane crash August 30, 2016. The company released this statement:

"Victory Woodworks is saddened by the loss of Jim Elliker. Jim worked tirelessly to build up his family, employees, customers and everyone he met. As we move forward, we will always remember his passion and commitment to excellence with our valued employees, clients, colleagues and vendors. Victory Woodworks will forever be dedicated to Jim's vision and culture of the company and will honor his legacy by continuing forward and uninterrupted with its business."

Elliker, 50, a longtime local, husband, and father of four was one of two people who died when a single-engine plane crashed in Sparks. Company Vice President Luke Burke says he was supposed to be on that plane as well, but sensing his uneasiness with the turbulence on the first leg of the flight, Elliker told him to get off and take a commercial flight home.

"There is no doubt that he saved my life," Burke said. "That's how much he cared about people in general. He was an amazing man; a fantastic husband, great friend, wonderful father and liked by nearly all who met him."

A fund in Elliker's name has been established at the Kids Kottage in Reno. Burke says it’s a local organization that was always important to Elliker, who was known for giving back to a community he always said gave him so much.

Burke says Victory Woodworks is run like a family business. The company employs about a hundred people and while they are grieving, they also know that Elliker would want them to keep on working.

"Jim had a succession plan and we've began executing that," Burke said. "We have the best team of people working here, doing what they do best to keep up moving forward."

He says many employees have worked there more than a decade and many clients were longstanding ones.

"Jim always said that we don't have a lot of clients; we have a lot of repeat clients."

The pilot of the Beechcraft aircraft that went down has been identified as 73-year-old John Brown. The NTSB has taken over the crash investigation.