The family lived upstairs while pursuing clock repairs and restoration as a hobby in the shop they had set up in the basement and garage of the house. Their hobby expanded by purchasing clocks from the Francis family, who owned a six-story import business and warehouse at Island Avenue and 6th Avenue in San Diego. In 1972, their purchases exceeded the available space in their home, so they rented a warehouse on Market Street to store excess inventory. That same year, Ed was honorably discharged from the Air Force and returned to the San Francisco Bay area.
In 1973, Ed and his sister Renee relocated to San Diego, and the family began to entertain the idea of forming a clock company.
By this time, Lou was running the clock shop and attended to casework repairs and restoration while Ed repaired the movements. However, they found it difficult to restore some of the ornate carvings on some of the European clocks purchased as imports. Further, the family wanted to manufacture the entire clock and embellish the case with carvings as found on European-style clocks. So, in 1973 or 1974, the Gazo Family Clock Factory was formed and transformed the basement hobby clock shop into a family business with Lou and Cleo as the principals.
In 1974, Beto Martinez, a businessman from Mexico, approached the company and offered to provide skilled wood carvers. An agreement was reached with Creationes Internationale whereby workers would carve ornate patterns for the company’s clocks, rough assemble the cases in Mexico, and ship the cases to the Gazo factory in San Diego.
In San Diego, the cases were fine-finished, stained, the solid brass hardware was applied, and the movement was mounted. Case production outran the supply of movements and the company removed movements from older, dilapidated cases and used the movements in their own cases.
Also that year, the company was approached by the German firm, G. Jauch, who proposed that Gazo use Jauch movements in their clocks. An agreement was reached and the Jauch movements were soon in use by the firm. Later on, the firm also used Keininger movements in its larger wall and floor-standing models.
In 1974 or 1975, the company was incorporated and the name was changed to The Gazo Family Clock Factory, Inc. At about this same time, they relocated from First and Grape streets to near the corner of 10th Avenue and "G" Street in San Diego.
The company remained in this facility for about three years and subsequently continued to store cases and inventory there after relocating to National City.
Gazo clock dials began as off-the-shelf items, but eventually they became unique. Art Connors, a photo-etch lithographer, began to etch the company’s dials that were initially based on 16th Century art and designs. This proved to be very intricate and overly detailed so they simplified the dial patterns. Eventually, the dial design was also etched into the weight tubes and pendulum bob. The Connor shop was located near the company’s 10th and G street facility.
In 1976 and 1977, the company reached its zenith. It had shops in Mexico manufacturing cases with elaborate woodcarvings and a sales team in Dallas, Texas, who marketed their clocks to a network of dealers such as "The TimePeace", who operated retail stores in Carmel, San Francisco, and La Jolla CA.
The firm managed to sell all of the models they manufactured and were realizing annual sales of about $2.2 million. However, the clock industry in general began a slow downturn and sales began to drop. In order for the customer to get more without raising prices, Gazo released its sales team. By this time, the company was also using Urgos and Kieninger movements in their clocks.
Gazo also introduced a unique clock during this time. Following the hour strike, the mechanical mechanism tripped a battery powered 50- or 144-note Reuge music box mechanism that played its tune a single time and then stopped. The entire production run of this model was quickly sold. The 50-note mechanism added about $500 to the initial retail price while the 72-note version added up to $1,400.
However, due to increasing expenses for materials and labor, the company needed additional capital by 1979. A Small Business Administration loan was secured and, as part of the loan agreement, a time and efficiency study was conducted. The study concluded that three-quarters of all manufacturing operations were losing money and, as a result, the prices of the clocks were increased. The clock industry, in general, continued its downturn and the company’s sales slipped further.
In 1978 or 1979, the company relocated to 26th Street in National City, near Interstate 5. They were located in an industrial park and operated out of several sequential units within the complex. Each suite was set up to be a specific function in the production line. The company hired and trained workers for the cabinetwork and movement installation, as well as skilled clockmakers when they could be found.
In 1982, Lou Gazo retired and Ed Gazo became president of the company. Seeking more financial backing, Dr. Art Thomas, a La Jolla anaesthesiologist, and his wife, Judy, contributed money to the company, becoming partners. In 1983, Thomas, his wife and two sons purchased controlling interest in the company. The Thomas sons were trained in clock repair by Ed Gazo and Art Thomas assumed marketing and sales responsibility for the company. He also owned and operated Gazo showrooms in Scottsdale AZ and Beverly Hills CA.
Prior to 1986, the company’s clock cabinets were all unique, depending on the movement style. Beginning in 1986, the company standardized its cabinets to accept any particular style of movement. With the exception of the Palo Alto and Santa Barbara models, whose cases were manufactured in the shop of "Salvador" in Tijuana (who did extremely high quality work), all cases made during the era when the Thomas family owned and operated the company, were made in the National City factory.
However, sales continued to drop and in 1988, Ed Gazo, the remaining Gazo family member, who had become a salesman, left the company. In 1989, Art Thomas died suddenly and a few months later the factory ceased operations.
The company manufactured no special orders and produced 10,000 standing, wall, and mantle clocks in 53 different models, as well as two styles of music boxes that featured 72-note Reuge movements.