Sights On Two-Step Distribution

Industry Making Inroads To Rebound In 2015 At NASGW Expo.

In the midst of a “tough” 2014, the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) held its 41st Expo and Annual Meeting in Little Rock, Ark. Attendees from 48 states and eight countries were at the event, which featured 76 new exhibitors — a record for the expo. With the amount of business conducted at the show, there was a sense of renewed optimism that 2015 will be a more traditional selling year. Pete Brownell, NASGW chairman, reported increased business at the expo following a year of “adjustment” for many in the industry.

“Last year, 2014, was an adjustment year, and many organizations have adjusted quite well. There’s been some ‘riding out the storm’ plans, but we have a lot of great expectations for 2015,” Brownell said. “We’re forecasting 2012 will be the cleanest comparison to 2015; 2013 caught us all by surprise and in 2014, the industry experienced a bigger-than-expected drop-off. Right now, the supply chain is pretty full and it’s going to take a while for products to sell through. We predict more of an even demand, but there will be minor ripples in ammunition categories and increased demand from CCW pistol manufacturers.”

According to Brownell, the influx of new products in 2015 will help grow the market for additional consumers.

“One thing we’re going to see in 2015 is more new products from manufacturers in every segment of the industry. We’ve learned from previous ups and downs that new products allow retail stores and consumers to grow the market. Our members are better educated as to where customers are going and what they’re buying as they develop new products for the upcoming year,” he said.
Encouraging Two-Step Distribution

In periods of economic slowdown, NASGW reinforces the importance of two-step distribution, Brownell said.

“The NASGW has a unique position of being able to represent a large — if not the largest — section of wholesalers for manufacturers in the marketplace. We inventory product to help supplement the independent retail gun stores, take credit, manage credit in the supply channel and act as a sales force/consultant to suppliers on what’s selling or not. We reinforce the brands in the marketplace, while working with independent retailers to make sure their product is in stock as much as possible.”
Brownell emphasizes the importance of wholesalers in building the supply chain.

“Wholesalers support independent firearms retailers by helping to educate them. If we can provide good support in the two-step distribution channel, information on products and expectations of support to the retail customer and help dealers sell their product, we’ll all be successful,” he said.
According to Brownell, attending the NASGW Expo and Annual Meeting allows wholesalers the opportunity to continue building relationships with manufacturers.

“Attending the NASGW Expo gives our members the chance to have meaningful conversations with the manufacturing base. You can plan out the next year with very little distractions or clutter, unlike the big production shows,” he said. “It’s a very focused event: with a focus on inventory planning and sales programs. We encourage all wholesalers to attend, so they can find out the new programs and incentives for selling product in the coming year.”

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Richard Lipsey, chairman of Lipsey’s, was the first recipient of
the NASGW Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50 years of service
to the industry. His wife, Susan Lipsey, and daughter Laurie
Lipsey Aronson, Lipsey’s president and CEO, presented this honor.

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Meetings at Birchwood Casey, Black Rain Ordnance and TRUGLO
booths show business being done at the expo.

Honoring Companies

NASGW opened the 41st Expo and Annual Meeting with its 10th Annual Awards Reception and Dinner. Over 450 members celebrated the opening of the event in the Little Rock Marriott’s Grand Ballroom. Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, was the featured speaker.

Richard Lipsey, chairman of Lipsey’s LLC, was honored as the first recipient of NASGW’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50 years of service to the industry. Lipsey has served in a variety of leadership roles in organizations both inside and outside the industry, as well as founding charitable and industry support groups to provide leadership and growth.

“Richard is well known for his optimism, enthusiasm and generosity. We’re honored to have him as our first recipient,” said Kent Williams, outgoing NASGW director.

NASGW Leadership Awards are presented to the association’s distribution members that best demonstrate a commitment to two-step distribution and provide value and service to customers.

Leupold & Stevens was honored with the Optics Manufacturer of the Year award for the fourth year in a row.

“To be recognized by our distribution and specialty retail partners is an honor, and one we deeply appreciate. They provide a perfect avenue to reach our core hunting and shooting customers throughout the country,” said Bruce Pettet, Leupold & Stevens president and CEO.

For the sixth year in a row, Birchwood Casey was selected as the Accessories Manufacturer of the Year.

Hornady Manufacturing was named the Ammunition Manufacturer of the Year for the fifth consecutive year.

“We’ve worked very hard to produce high quality products and we are honored that our ammunition has been recognized for the fifth year in a row,” said Renae Waltemath, Hornady director of sales.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. was recognized as the Firearms Manufacturer of the Year for the eighth year in a row.

“We focus on marketing promotions and communication tools that will benefit distributors of Ruger firearms — as we recognize strong wholesaler support and cooperation are vital to our success,” said Mike Fifer, Ruger CEO.

NASGW also presented Excellence in Manufacturing Awards. Burris was recognized for Excellence in Optics.

“Our goal is to produce innovative products that offer value to the consumer and profitability to our retail partners,” said Patrick Beckett, Burris VP of sales, marketing and business development.
For the third consecutive year, the Excellence in Accessory Manufacturing, Ammunition and Firearms awards went to Crimson Trace, Winchester Ammunition and Glock, respectively.

The 2014 Innovator of the Year was presented to O.F. Mossberg & Sons, for the second time in three years.

“Recognition for developing the most innovative products is a tremendous honor, particularly when this acknowledgement comes from our customers,” said Tom Taylor, Mossberg senior VP of sales and marketing. “Developing, manufacturing and marketing the highest-quality, leading-edge firearms is the focus of our entire team.”

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First-Time Awards

NASGW introduced two new leadership awards at the reception.

The Importer of the Year award was presented to IWI US.

“We will honor this award by continuing to offer the highest quality and most advanced products available from our parent company IWI Ltd,” said Michael Kassnar, IWI US VP of sales and marketing.
Eagle Imports was recognized for Excellence in Imports.

“We’ve been in business for 26 years importing high-quality firearms at an affordable price from manufacturers worldwide, so it’s a great honor to be the first recipient of the NASGW Excellence in Imports award,” said Michael Sodini, Eagle Imports president.

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NASGW awarded a grant of $20,000 to HAVA, one of four
grants given at the Awards Reception.

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Ruger CEO Mike Fifer (second from right) accepted the company’s
eighth straight Firearms Manufacturer of the Year award.

In Support Of The Industry

NASGW also announced grants to four industry nonprofit organizations. At the time of the expo, NASGW had donated $200,000 in support of the industry in 2014.

NASGW awarded a grant of $25,000 to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which promotes, protects and advances the rights of hunters and anglers. A $10,000 donation was presented to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA).

New organizations receiving grants from NASGW were the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA), who each received a $20,000 donation.

Further exhibiting its support of the industry, NASGW became the first silver sponsor of Project ChildSafe in late 2014, with a $30,000 contribution to NSSF.

“NASGW’s generous donation will help Project ChildSafe grow and continue to spread the message of ‘Own It? Respect It. Secure It.’” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO.

NASGW also supports outreach programs, such as First Shots and the NRA.

“Through membership and fundraising, we’re supporting organizations that get customers out into the field and shooting range. It’s healthy and safe,” Brownell said.

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IWI US was recognized as the Importer of the Year. Michael Kassnar
(center), IWI US VP of sales and marketing, accepted the award.

Mark Your Calendars

This year’s 42nd NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting will be held Oct. 27-30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La.
By Jade Moldé

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