Despite Soft Sales, Companies Are Expanding

By Russ Thurman

Weatherby’s relocation to Sheridan, Wyo., is a signal of the company’s intent for the future: “We’re are not interested in
maintaining; we are growing,” said CEO Adam Weatherby. This is one of several examples of growth around the industry.

It’s fall and most companies in the industry are counting on the season to build momentum to close the year in the positive. The fall season, with its abundance of hunting sales opportunities — followed by holiday buying — will determine many companies’ success in 2018.

At this time last year, the health of firearm sales and the industry, in general, was tenuous. The whiplash from the sudden downturn in sales following the 2016 national elections and a rollercoaster year of business hurt many companies.

But that was last year. While not pleasant, successfully traversing the crucible builds confidence — creating a “been there, done that, now we’re moving forward” attitude.

Expanding Operations

Despite modest firearm and related sales this year, companies are moving forward — investing in the future. Rather than downsizing they’re expanding.

Taurus USA is investing more than $22.5 million in infrastructure and operations in its new manufacturing facility in Bainbridge, Ga.

“The decision to move to Bainbridge is part of a long-term growth strategy. The ability to expand operations is critical for our U.S. business. This new facility will meet our demanding needs to increase production with the skilled workforce Georgia has to offer,” said David Blenker, Taurus USA president, CEO.

In May, Daniel Defense celebrated the opening of its new $29 million, 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Black Creek, Ga. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“What’s most important about this new facility is we have all of our employees in one place. Now we’re in one location, and we have room to grow. This was a huge step we needed to take to be ready for the opportunities our market has given us,” said Marty Daniel, president, CEO.

Kimber is scheduled to begin operations in its new engineering and manufacturing facility in the City of Troy, Ala., early next year.

“Growing our company intelligently depends significantly on being in the right manufacturing environment, and in Troy, we have a community dedicated to our long-term success,” said Leslie Edelman, Kimber president, CEO.

Weatherby is relocating its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, Wyo.

“We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing,” said Adam Weatherby, CEO.

Remington — a company many, including more than a few in the industry, didn’t believe would survive bankruptcy — is looking to the future.

“It is morning in Remington country,” said Anthony Acitelli, Remington chairman, CEO, in reaction to successfully emerging from Chapter 11. “We are excited about the future — producing quality products, serving our customers and providing good jobs for our employees.”

More than a new day and a new financial start, there is a new attitude at Remington — one you could sense during visits to the Remington booth at the NRA Meetings in Dallas in early May. I also witnessed it during a visit to Remington’s Huntsville, Ala., facility in July. It is best described as uplifting and positive.

American Outdoor Brands Corp. is completing its 500,000-square-foot logistics and customer service facility in Boone County, Mo.

“This new facility and its systems are an evolutionary step towards achieving our long-term strategy to better serve our wholesalers, retailers and consumers,” said James Debney, AOBC president, CEO.

Big Rock’s new 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Reno, Nev., is now fully operational, serving 11 western states.

“This new distribution center represents a major investment in the future of our company and our customers. Our long history of serving customers in the Northwest region will remain a high priority, and we will stay firmly committed to growing those relationships,” said Andy Melville, Big Rock Sports president.

Vista Outdoor experienced major losses last year, but is rebounding with a focus on pursuing growth in its core product categories.

“Vista Outdoor is excited about the potential of each of our core businesses, particularly ammunition, which is our largest core business. An increased focus on our heritage ammunition business will manifest itself in more innovative and breakthrough new products introduced over the next few years,” said Chris Metz, Vista Outdoor CEO.

United Sporting Companies (USC) significantly expanded its distribution reach with the acquisition of AcuSport Corp., a company that declared bankruptcy in May.

“We believe this purchase synergistically combines the best of AcuSport and United Sporting Companies to create the industry’s leading shooting sports distribution company,” said Brad Johnson, USC CEO.

A Motivating Sign

There are many other companies in the industry expanding their operations, despite continued headwinds and the ever-present anti-gun movement. That’s a good, motivating sign. It’s an indication, regardless of a tumultuous past, most companies are looking to the future — and success.

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