Savage Arms CEO: “We Will Be More Personable” To Dealers
By Jade Moldae
July 8, Vista Outdoor announced the sale of the Savage Arms and Stevens firearms brands for $170 million. The sale is a significant part of Vista Outdoor’s previously announced strategic transformation plan (first publicized May 2018, and covered in more detail in Shooting Industry’s July 2018 issue).
“Divesting our Savage brand was a key aspect of our transformation plan,” said Chris Metz, Vista Outdoor CEO. “While it was a difficult decision to sell such an iconic brand, I remain confident this was the correct choice to help Vista Outdoor grow in those categories where we can have leadership positions. Savage is a fantastic business, and it deserves to continue to evolve into other firearms categories. We’re excited to see Savage reach its full potential under new ownership.”
In a recent interview with Shooting Industry, Savage Arms CEO Al Kasper — who formed the team of investors that acquired the company from Vista — outlined the benefits of operating as an independent entity and a renewed focus on its dealer network.
“As a single, independent company we have the same aim, same strategic goals we’ve always had: continuing to grow the company,” he stated. “Being out of the public sphere and having to deal with quarterly expectations, we’re going to be able to — as I told employees in a townhall meeting the week of the sale — run the company to the beat of the marketplace, and not the public stock market. Externally, it doesn’t mean a whole lot; internally it will help us to run the business more efficiently and more effectively.”
Moving forward, Kasper assured it will be “business as usual” for its retail customers.
“The industry isn’t going to see a significant amount of change,” Kasper said. “It seems strange, I know, but under the ATK/Vista umbrella, Savage was allowed to operate fairly independently in terms of how it ran its business, how it treated its customers, delivery and performance to its customers, etc. So, it’s hardly going to change at all.”
Previously, under ATK/Vista Outdoor ownership, the Savage brand was represented by a mixture of outside sales reps and an internal team. The new ownership group has set a different sales strategy.
“We’ve gone to a completely rep-based sales organization, so we’ll have more people representing Savage. Our dealers will see Savage more frequently than they have in the past,” Kasper said. “The sales rep groups chosen were the ones Savage had previous to its 2013 acquisition: Jones & Company, Tim Bailey & Associates and JKS Unlimited.”
As an independent company, Savage has the advantage of operating outside social pressures.
“The current political environment is affecting our industry. Being a privately held company subjects us less to some of the pressures put on a publicly traded company in our space,” Kasper informed. “In this regard — in terms of new product development, enhancements
to certain products, introductions of certain product lines that may not be politically in favor right now — we can make decisions independent of a public marketplace. This will, frankly, benefit gun owners.”
Further, private ownership will result in a more “personal” company, according to Kasper.
“We’re going to be a lot more personable operating as an independent company,” he said. “The rep organizations are going to give Savage much more facetime with our dealers, we’re going to be much more frequent visitors to them — we’re opening up channels of communication to help us better service them. Under private ownership, we’re going to retain our strengths in the retail market, but really go back to strengthening the dealer relationships we had previously.”
Kasper credited ATK/Vista’s significant investment in the Savage brand over the last six years.
“I can only say positive things about our ownership by ATK/Vista — they invested a tremendous amount of capital into our business, allowing us to have very modern equipment and set us up for success going forward,” he shared.
Savage will have a healthy presence during the upcoming tradeshow season.
“A brand new booth is under construction for SHOT, and we’ll have an independent presence at all the major shows,” Kasper relayed.
Kasper reaffirmed the company will stay true to its groundbreaking history, and teased Savage’s entry into a new firearms category in the near future.
“Historically, we have been an innovator in our industry so we will continue to be a leader of innovation in our space. And you can expect Savage will continue to expand into the other segments it doesn’t currently exist — this is the most exciting thing for us,” he said.
With the acquisition complete, Kasper has set his sights on growing the Savage brand.
“One of the ways — and there are many, by the way — we’re looking to grow the company will be through acquisitions,” he said. “The industry right now is under a little bit of stress from political pressures, and there are a lot of dynamics going on with changing rules of engagement. There will be opportunities to acquire good businesses and brands. It’s clearly within the realm of possibility for us.”
The bottom line: A reinvigorated Savage Arms is primed to make an impact on the retail market.
Sierra Bullets Launches Ammunition Line
Sierra Bullets has launched a line of loaded ammunition: Sierra Ammunition. Available in eight popular hunting calibers — all topped with the new Sierra GameChanger Tipped GameKing (TGK) bullet —Sierra Ammunition represents the company’s first line of ammunition after 72 years of projectile manufacturing.
“This is the next step for Sierra,” said Sierra Bullets President Pat Daly. “The way we make ammunition is simply an extension of the way we make bullets. We begin with highly engineered loads utilizing the best components on the market. Assembly of these loads is done to the industry’s strictest tolerances and the results are proven before they ever leave our facility.”
Calibers and GameChanger TGK bullet weights in the now-available Sierra Ammunition line are: .243 Win. (90-gr.), 6 Creedmoor (100-gr.), 6.5 Creedmoor (130-gr.), .270 Win. (140-gr.), .308 Win. (165-gr.), 7mm Rem. Mag. (150-gr.), .30-06 Sprg. (165-gr.) and .300 Win. Mag. (180-gr.).”
“It’s rewarding to know Sierra shooters now have the option of loaded ammunition,” Daly said.
RISE Armament, Eagle OPS Partner To Assist Veterans
RISE Armament, manufacturer and supplier of AR components and firearms, announced a partnership with the Eagle OPS Foundation to support veterans through a variety of programs.
RISE Armament’s primary involvement with the organization is through the Eagle OPS Freedom Shoots, for which the company provided five RISE Watchman rifles.
“RISE Armament is the perfect partner for our Eagle OPS Freedom Shoots, and they are a model for all companies in being true difference-makers in the many veteran organizations they support,” said Johnathon Shepherd, founding partner of Eagle OPS.
Shepherd, a U.S. Marine veteran, and his wife Jessica, launched Eagle OPS in 2016 as an outreach program to the veteran community. In 2018, the Shepherds joined forces with friend and fellow Marine Stacy Hester, and together they co-founded the Eagle OPS Foundation to more effectively impact the community and connect veterans with needed resources.
At each monthly Freedom Shoot event, 10 veterans or current service members participate in timed shooting competitions, with the winner eligible to compete in a championship event in November. The events are held in Tulsa, Okla. All active-duty service members, reservists, veterans and their families are welcome to attend the shoots.
Freedom Shoots offer friendly competition, but they also provide veterans and other attendees an opportunity to build relationships and help ease the often-difficult transition following deployments or departure from active duty. The events conclude with a discussion about how the group can reach more veterans and continue to build on the Eagle OPS mission of “connecting relationships and resources to bring our heroes home.”
“At RISE Armament, we have a great passion and desire to support our veterans in as many ways as possible. It was a simple decision (for us) to assist the Eagle OPS Foundation and their mission to support the transition veterans make when returning home,” said Matt Torres, president of RISE Armament.
H&K To Supply U.S. Army SDMR
Heckler & Koch Defense Inc. (HK) will deliver between 5,000 and 6,000 complete rifle weapon systems to the U.S. Army, which plans to deploy them as M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifles (SDMR).
The new HK rifle is a variant of the 7.62mm G28/HK417. Under terms of the agreement, the rifles, manufactured by HK in Oberndorf, Germany, will begin to arrive in the HK-USA facility in Columbus, Ga., early 2020. There, HK-USA personnel will install scopes and mounts purchased by the Army under a separate agreement. Additionally, HK-USA staff will kit the scoped rifles with additional accessories from 12 other U.S.-based manufacturers to round out the complete SDMR weapon system delivered to the Army. Heckler & Koch will also provide spare parts, support and training.
“This is a significant achievement for Heckler & Koch,” said Michael Holley, HK-USA COO/CSO. “The HK SDMR system will add much-needed capabilities to virtually every squad in the Army. We’re honored by this opportunity.”
This award complements Heckler & Koch’s recent contract wins for other agencies: USMC (M27); U.S. Army (CSASS); Berlin Police and Bavarian State Police (SFP9 [VP9]), French Army (HK416), British Army (SA80 [Upgrade]).
U.S. Marshals Select Leupold, Dawson Sights Collaboration
Leupold & Stevens Inc. and Dawson Precision Inc. announced the U.S. Marshals Service selected the Leupold DeltaPoint (DP) Pro, paired with Dawson Precision sights, for its STI SRA duty pistol.
Leupold worked in conjunction with Dawson Precision to deliver the package deal the U.S.
Marshals sought. The end result is the Dawson Universal Optic System, also known as the Dynamic Universal Optic System.
In order to provide the unique sights package, Dawson Precision utilized the DP Pro as a direct firearm mount while using its Hard Use co-witness sights to retrofit the existing Tenon system in the DP Pro. In addition, Dawson added an interchangeable cover plate with a Perfect Impact rear sight that can be swapped out when iron sights are desired, allowing operators to switch back and forth to either system using the same front-sight height.
Leupold’s DP Pro red dot sight is designed for high-pressure situations. Crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, it has slotted 1-MOA click adjustments, eight user-selectable intensity settings and Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology (MST). It weighs less than 2 oz.
“The U.S. Marshals need their optics to perform when it counts, and we’re glad to be able to offer a solution that’s built to deliver on those expectations,” said Sam Horstman, director of military sales for Leupold & Stevens.
“We’re honored to contribute alongside Leupold to the U.S. Marshals Service STI SRA pistol project, and I would like to thank both for providing us the opportunity to work with the Marshals. We look forward to further developing our relationship with Leupold, and are excited about the future partnership possibilities in the competition and tactical arenas,” said Dave Dawson, president and CEO of Dawson Precision.
Reno Cerakote Facility Announces ISO Certification
Reno Cerakote has passed its International Organization for Standardization (ISO) audit, and is now certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard — the first exclusive Cerakote (ceramic coating) application facility to receive this distinction.
The ISO 9001:2015 is a quality management system that aims to enhance customer satisfaction by assurance of conformity to customers’ and other entities’ regulatory requirements. The certification affirms Reno Cerakote’s robust quality management system.
“It is a big step for Reno Cerakote to be the first and only production-based Cerakote applicator to be certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard. I am looking forward to the doors it will unlock, and for our customers to know they’re in the best hands,” said Kyle Geddes, document control manager for Reno Cerakote.
The company can now fulfill orders from customers who are required to work with ISO vendors for Cerakote application and hydrographics.
B&T USA announced a new partnership with Davidson’s to provide greater distribution of the B&T line of firearms to dealers throughout the country. Mike Massimo, Davidson’s VP of sales, stated, “B&T’s recent award of the U.S. Army submachine gun contract proved to us they’ve got an amazing line of products we should be working with.”
1791 Gunleather announced increased availability and dealer support with the addition of Zanders Sporting Goods as a new wholesale distributor.
Horizon Firearms recently partnered with Sports Inc. for vendor services. Sports Inc. members can now order Truly Custom Horizon Firearms rifles, as well as create a rifle series exclusive to their store, order from Horizon’s ready-to-ship rifle inventory or work directly with a customer to help them build a custom rifle.
RSR Group Inc. is now carrying RISE Armament products. A variety of RISE Armament products are in stock and ready to purchase, including all models of AR- and PCC-compatible triggers, 416R stainless steel barrels, multiple lengths of M-LOK-compatible free-floating handguards, AR-15 parts kits, RA-701 compensators and advanced bolt carrier groups in black nitride or nickel boro
Grizzly Cartridge Co. welcomed two new sales representative groups to sell the brand’s growing line of ammunition in specialized regions. Steve Chastain Co. will sell exclusively to the MINK and TALO states, while Heckel-Nokes Outdoors will cover the Mountain states.
Guntec USA hired Jim Ferry & Associates to provide sales representation in the 13 Western states, and Outdoor Marketing Group for representation of current and future accounts in the Southeastern states of FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV, KY, TN, MS and AL.
HSM Ammunition entered into a contract with Alliance Sports Group to represent the company in 20 Eastern states: AL, CT, DE, FL, GA, KY, MA, MD, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT and WV.
Lucas Oil Outdoor Line announced a new partnership with sales representative agency Pestilli & Associates Inc. The agency provides outdoor industry products to retail partners throughout the Northeastern U.S. market.
Mammoth Coolers selected Marshall and Hanson Sales and Marketing Firm as its new sales agency of record for representation in MN, ND, SD and WI. They will service accounts, both current and future, within the specified territory.
Mossy Oak announced a strategic sales representation partnership with Outtech Inc.; the alliance will expand into hunting, fishing, shooting sports, outdoor lifestyle and many other outdoor-related pursuits. In addition, SOG Knives and Tools chose Outtech Inc. to represent SOG in the specialty sales channel in all lower 48 U.S. states.
Velocity Outdoor appointed Rugghill as its international sales rep group. Based in Austria, Rugghill will represent Velocity Outdoor in the airgun, archery and optics industries in the Western European Union and other international markets.
Summit Outdoors selected MWS Associates Inc. to represent Shadow Hunter Blinds, Elevators, Hunt Comfort and Slotlock to retail dealers and distributors across the U.S.
Realtree and William J. Gartland & Associates announced a partnership to grow sales of Realtree-licensed products. Realtree SVP Brad Schorr said, … “we want to continue to grow our Realtree brand and retail profits by helping our partners grow. We have proven we can really make a difference in their bottom line, and Gartland & Associates is going to help us do this even more.”
Clenzoil announced the appointment of JKS Unlimited as its sales agency of record for the Northeast and upper Midwest regions.
Nose Jammer, Can Cooker and Summit Outdoor each appointed RubLine Marketing its marketing agency of record to provide marketing content and strategy to grow brand awareness
TBA Outdoors, a subsidiary of The Brandon Agency (TBA), was selected by Heaven’s Trail to launch the company’s new line of high-end treestands and accessories. From brand development to creative, TBA Outdoors will provide a full-service marketing campaign for Heaven’s Trail aimed at showcasing the launch of the new brand.
B&T USA entered a strategic partnership with Direct Impact Media Group who will provide a full-suite of marketing and brand services. Direct Impact will serve as the day-to-day point of contact for all media inquiries and is implementing a host of marketing communications, social media and public relations efforts.
Savage Arms selected Murray Road Agency as its public relations agency of record. Murray Road will handle all media inquiries, product sample requests, communication needs, public relations and related efforts.