Building Trust & Relationships

NASGW Expo Lays Foundation
For Early-Year Business

By Jade Moldae

The 2016 NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting, held Oct. 25–28 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo., presented a productive forum for nearly 2,000 attendees to evaluate new-for-2017 products, programs and other initiatives to grow their businesses. Celebrating 43 years, the 2016 NASGW Expo featured 288 exhibitors; 52 of them were new.

Held just a couple weeks prior to Election Day, attendees and exhibitors were faced with the prospect of juggling two very different business plans — contingent on the results of the election. Manufacturers, distributors and sales rep groups have undoubtedly approached 2017 differently in the wake of Trump’s surprise victory.

As the industry adjusts to a “normalized” market, NASGW officials report the association will continue to serve as a resource for its members in managing inventories and the flow of products in the distribution channel.

“With the results of the election, and a Donald Trump victory, I fully expect the sales environment to level out a bit and we likely won’t see the big peak we expected had Hillary Clinton won the presidency,” said Kenyon Gleason, president of NASGW in an interview with SI. “As such, the NASGW will continue to evaluate market trends and identify areas where we can add value to members given this unexpected new and different political climate. We’re going to avoid tunnel vision.”

NASGW’s wholesale members represent a key component of the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry. According to a recent survey conducted by NASGW, total industry sales through the association’s wholesale members totaled an estimated $6 billion in 2015 — an 89 percent increase since 2009. Given last year’s strong NICS numbers, NASGW officials anticipate 2016 will see a further increase once the final numbers are determined.
Additionally, NASGW members’ assets include 4 million square feet of warehouse space across 60-plus locations, holding $1 billion in inventory — benefitting all partners of the distribution channel.

“You don’t have to be an industry expert to see how our wholesale members make it easy for dealers to get access to the products they need quickly,” Gleason added.

However, there’s more to delivering results than just numbers, Gleason said.

“Being successful in business is more than just logistics and statistics. It’s about relationships, the kind you can forge at NASGW.”


The 2016 NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting had nearly 2,000 attendees —
bringing shooting sports buyers and sellers together.

Promoting “Wholesale Trust”

Over 500 members met at the Annual Awards Dinner & Reception, which officially launched the 43rd Expo. During the dinner, top manufacturers were honored for their commitment to the two-step distribution model and attendees received important updates about the association’s latest initiatives.

“We made several changes at NASGW in 2016. The most noticeable of course is the new logo and tagline, ‘Wholesale Trust,’” Gleason said. “In addition, we’re reinventing the association to provide more value to our members and to strengthen our position in the industry. We even retooled our mission statement to help us define our role in the distribution channel: ‘Bringing Shooting Sports Buyers and Sellers Together.’ Now, when people across the industry see our name or logo, they know who we are and the important role we play.”

NASGW made other refinements in 2016, such as streamlining its communication channels to deliver up-to-date information to members.

“We strengthened our communication strategies to provide our members crucial information more frequently. Because members repeatedly told us how important the NASGW Expo is to their bottom line, we developed a stand-alone website for the Annual Expo — giving this event the attention and focus it deserves. Plus, we launched a new association website for general needs.”

Each year the NASGW Expo presents an opportunity for members to build on the foundation of “Wholesale Trust,” according to Gleason.
“Wholesale Trust speaks to the importance of relationships throughout the two-step distribution channel and the level of trust required each step of the way,” he observed.


Each year at the Expo, NASGW presents charitable donations to important
industry causes. As part of this endeavor, the association donated
$20,000 to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance.

2016 Leadership Award Winners

For more than a decade, NASGW has recognized the top optics, accessory, ammunition and firearm manufacturers who best demonstrate a commitment to the two-step distribution process and provide value and service to customers through its Leadership Awards. In addition, the association also recognizes its Importer and Innovator of the Year.

Wholesaler members cast their votes based on four core components: the manufacturer’s distribution policy; marketing, promotion and sales representation and training programs; logistics and operations and its support of NASGW and the industry.

The 2016 Leadership Award recipients were:

Optics Manufacturer of the Year: Leupold & Stevens

Accessories Manufacturer of the Year: Birchwood Casey & Magpul (Tie)

Ammo Manufacturer of the Year: Hornady Manufacturing Co.

Firearms Manufacturer of the Year: Ruger

Importer of the Year: Aguila Ammunition

Innovator of the Year: Ruger

In a first for the Leadership Awards, Birchwood Casey and Magpul received the same amount of votes and shared the Accessories Manufacturer of the Year Award. For the second consecutive year, Ruger took home both the Firearms Manufacturer of the Year and Innovator of the Year awards. Magpul and Aguila Ammunition were first-time Leadership Award recipients.

Outgoing NASGW Chairman, Pete Brownell, commended Ruger’s CEO Mike Fifer with the NASGW Chairman’s Award. “Mike has had a huge impact in our industry. He’s a true leader and I was proud to present the 2016 NASGW Chairman’s Award to him,” Brownell said.

Also during the Awards Dinner, NSSF presented the NSSF Medal of Freedom to Smith & Wesson and Hornady Manufacturing Co. for each company’s support of the #GUNVOTE voter registration campaign. S&W and Hornady made donations of $500,000 and $250,000 respectively to help launch the successful effort in 2016.

In conjunction with the annual awards, NASGW donated $20,000 to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA). “We’re nothing in this industry if we don’t support the future and encourage new young shooters,” Gleason noted.

Because of the importance of the election season, NASGW made contributions of $100,000 to the NRA-ILA and $25,000 to NSSF’s #GUNVOTE campaign and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation earlier in 2016.


Each year at the Expo, NASGW presents charitable donations to important
industry causes. As part of this endeavor, the association donated
$20,000 to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance.

Save The Date

The 44th NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting will be held Oct. 17–20 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio this year. Gleason reports the association is anticipating a robust turnout from members.

“Early feedback and exhibit sales for 2017’s Expo in San Antonio have been exceptionally positive. The show is already close to selling out,” he said.

For more information on the NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting, visit


Fresh Approach To Tell NASGW’s Story

NASGW had a transformative year in 2016. In the span of a few months, the association launched a rebranding campaign and redesigned its website while also creating one specifically for the Expo. Furthermore, NASGW premiered a “Wholesale Trust” video at the 2016 Expo, which highlights the importance of the two-step distribution model. The video can be viewed here:

Also in 2016, NASGW partnered with Orchid Advisors to develop the NASGW/Orchid Advisors State Firearms Portal. These improvements were part NASGW’s efforts to “tell its story” for the industry.

To help in that endeavor, SI invited NASGW President Kenyon Gleason to provide an update on the association’s important movements and also to explain the benefits of being a member. “NASGW: On The Move” appeared in the December 2016 issue.

“We have a bigger, more important story to tell. We maybe haven’t always been so good about doing the telling, but it’s changing — just like the organization is — as we prepare for the future and the changing dynamics of the shooting sports industry,” Gleason said.

To read the rest of Gleason’s commentary, visit

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