Robust Launch For New Year

Companies Remain Optimistic, Bullish About Business In 2014.

The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) held its 40th Annual Meeting and Expo in late October in Grapevine, Texas. Business at the show was reported to be robust. Manufacturers from all segments of the industry introduced new products for 2014, and wholesalers from throughout the United States and around the world built their inventories for the New Year.

Maurice (Moe) Desmarais, NASGW president, reported a number of increases at the show.

“We’re extremely pleased with our members’ and the shooting sports industry’s participation in the event. We had 40 new exhibitors and just under 100 extra booths at the event. We also had about 250 more attendees than in 2012,” said Desmarais.
International customers continue to recognize the NASGW as an important part of their business, according to Desmarais.

“We picked up several new international companies and, surprisingly, some of them joined us in the weeks leading up to the show. We even had a request to exhibit within 10 days of the show from a company in Norway,” explained Desmarais.

Desmarais said these increases reinforce the services NASGW provides.

“We’re providing our members with a mix and diversity of product lines. That’s what they’re looking for and providing those services to our members is an important part of our mission,” Desmarais said. “Part of the uniqueness of our event is our members can spend a significant amount of time with their manufacturers, and plan their buying for 2014 and beyond. Their marketing campaigns are put together at this event. It gives them a solid way of looking forward and planning for 2014. Our members are optimistic and bullish about business in 2014.”

Robert Kamphuis, chairman, president and CEO of Mayville Engineering Company (MEC), a decades-long NASGW member, reinforced the value of exhibiting at the expo.
“Our wholesalers represent a majority of the market and we are very pleased with their support, as well as the valuable input we get from the NASGW throughout the year, especially at this show,” Kamphuis said. “This has been an exciting year as our reloaders are sought out by an ever-expanding market. We are pleased that our level of support for sales and service has been great.”

Kamphuis also noted the additional benefits of MEC’s recent acquisition of APEX Clay Target Machines.

“We find great synergy in this acquisition, especially given that the machines fit our core competency of engineering and manufacturing metal products,” Kamphuis said.

Tim Lesser, VP of sales and marketing of Sharps Rifle Company (SRC), a first-time exhibitor, said the decision to introduce the company’s new products at the expo was an easy one.

“It made perfect sense. We’re delighted by the response to our Relia-Bolt and our .25-45 Sharps Rifle cartridge. The NASGW Expo was the perfect place to introduce our exciting and innovative new products,” Lesser said. “SRC embodies the qualities that made the Sharps Rifle Company a legend, but in a modern package.”


Texas Gov. Rick Perry welcomes the industry to the
state during NASGW’s Annual Awards Dinner.

Welcome To Texas, Honoring Companies

NASGW opened the expo and annual meeting with its Annual Awards Dinner. More than 500 members of the association celebrated the opening of the event and honored NASGW’s 2013 award recipients. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the featured speaker.

“There’s still a place that loves freedom in America, where people can pursue their dreams, free from knee-jerk government regulation. That place is called ‘Texas,’” Gov. Perry said. “In Texas, we embrace the values of competition and a system that rewards innovation and hard work, and that applies to those who legally manufacture and sell guns as much as to any other business in America.”

NASGW’s Awards recognize manufacturers that “best demonstrate a commitment to the two-step distribution process, and who provide outstanding value and service.” Leadership Awards were presented to the top optics, accessory, ammunition and firearms manufacturers.

For the third year in a row, Leupold & Stevens was honored with the Optics Manufacturer of the Year award.

“Leupold has always worked very hard to deliver for our distributors and dealers. This recognition tells us we’re doing things right, but also challenges us to improve our processes for next year,” said Kevin Trepa, Leupold & Stevens VP of global sales and business development.

Birchwood Casey was named the Accessories Manufacturer of the Year for the sixth year in row.

Hornady Manufacturing was honored as the Ammunition Manufacturer of the Year.

“We are extremely honored that our ammunition has been recognized for the fourth time in a row with this prestigious award,” said Steve Hornady, company president. “Much hard work goes into creating innovative products and their subsequent sales programs, shipping and support.”

For the seventh consecutive year, Sturm, Ruger & Co. received the Firearms Manufacturer of the Year award.

“We are so pleased that our dedication to two-step distribution is consistently valued and appreciated by wholesalers, and we continue to strive to meet their needs with innovative, high-quality products. We want to thank NASGW members for this award and their continued business and support,” said Mike Fifer, Ruger president and CEO.

NASGW also presented Excellence in Manufacturing Awards.

LaserLyte was honored for Excellence in Optics Manufacturing.

“We strive to offer the most innovative laser training and firearms systems to our customers. Our commitment to our wholesale customers and the industry is constantly evolving from exclusive distributor offerings to supporting our Second Amendment rights and growing participation in the shooting sports,” said Aaron Moore, LaserLyte VP of sales and marketing.

Crimson Trace was recognized for Excellence in Accessory Manufacturing.

“Our dedicated manufacturing team takes great pride in each and every product that is designed, manufactured, packaged and shipped from our facility. This award acknowledges their exceptional customer commitment,” explained Lane Tobiassen, Crimson Trace president and CEO.

Winchester Ammunition was presented with NASGW’s Excellence in Ammunition Manufacturing award.

Glock Inc. was honored for Excellence in Firearms Manufacturing.

NASGW presented its 2013 Innovator of the Year award to Smith & Wesson.

“In order to provide increasing value to our customers, we have focused on elevating the Smith & Wesson brand by introducing innovative new products, improving our manufacturing processes and developing sales methods that provide better service to our distribution partners. On behalf of everyone at Smith & Wesson, we would like to express our appreciation to the NASGW and all of its supporting members for this recognition,” said James Debney, S&W president and CEO.


James Debney (center), S&W president & CEO, accepts the 2013 Innovator of the
Year award from Pete Brownell (left), NASGW vice chair, and Kent Williams, NASGW Chairman.

Supporting The Industry

At the awards dinner, NASGW announced grants given to two nonprofit organizations that will support industry efforts in advancing youth sports and congressional support.

A $25,000 donation was presented to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance to support recruiting and retaining new shooters.

A second donation of $25,000 was awarded to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which promotes, protects and advances the rights of hunters and anglers.


Business being conducted at the NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting
was a familiar sight — orders were lined up for this year.

Back In The Day

As part of its 40th Anniversary celebration, NASGW also sponsored a “Back in the Day” Contest. Members shared their personal stories of what it was like to be a wholesaler, manufacturer or sales representative 40 years ago and beyond.

Sports South, which is headquartered in Shreveport, La., was named the grand prize winner. The company’s winning entry, along with those from many other companies, are available for viewing on the association’s website. Visit and select the “Back in Day Contest” link on the toolbar.

Mark Your Calendars

This year’s NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting will be held Oct. 14-17, 2014 at the Statehouse Convention Center, Little Rock, Ark.
By Ray Oeltjen

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