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Major Companies Reinforce Positions In Market

Major industry companies continue to grow, strengthening their positions in the marketplace, even as overall firearms sales cool.

In early September, ATK announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Bushnell Group Holdings — a no-surprise acquisition rumored weeks earlier. ATK will pay $985 million in cash for Bushnell, subject to customary post-closing adjustments.

Bushnell has more than 10,000 customer accounts in more than 90 countries. Its family of products represents 19 outdoor brands in sports optics, outdoor accessories and performance eyewear, including Bushnell, Primos, Bollé, Hoppe’s, Uncle Mike’s, Butler Creek and Serengeti. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., and employs approximately 1,100 workers around the world.

“ATK will leverage Bushnell’s strong sourcing, marketing, branding and distribution capabilities and capitalize on Bushnell’s track record of successfully integrating acquisitions and delivering profitable growth,” said Mark DeYoung, ATK president and CEO.

In June 2013, ATK acquired Savage Sports Corp., adding centerfire and rimfire rifles, shotguns and shooting range systems to its product offerings.

These acquisitions reinforce ATK’s already stout portfolio of shooting sports brands, and further advances the company’s position as one of the top players in the industry.

Also in early September, Ruger announced it had purchased a 220,000-square-foot facility in Mayodan, N.C., to house a new manufacturing plant. According to Ruger, this is the company’s first major expansion in over 25 years. Production at the new facility is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2014.

“Ruger has created 900 jobs over the last five years and we hope to continue this growth in Mayodan,” said Mike Fifer, Ruger president and CEO. “There is a phenomenal work force in the area. We’ve had two job fairs. The response has been tremendous and the caliber of the potential employees is really impressive.”

In early August, Remington broke ground on a $32 million expansion of its ammunition plant in Lonoke, Ark., which is expected to be in operation by the second quarter of 2014.

Finally, in the “long-anticipated” category, there is now one Colt company. In mid-July, Colt Defense LLC acquired New Colt Holding Corp., the parent company of Colt’s Manufacturing Co. The two companies had operated separately since 2003, which caused much confusion in the industry and marketplace. That’s now in the past.

Congratulations to Dennis Veilleux, who was named president and CEO of Colt Defense LLC. Veilleux was most recently the president and CEO of New Colt Holding Corp. He joined Colt in 2006 as the executive director of engineering and has held a number of positions in the then-two Colt companies. He also masterfully guided Colt through the tumultuous anti-gun manufacturing campaigns in Connecticut earlier this year.

Look for more good news from Colt in the coming months.

Firearm Sales Chilly

Firearm sales have cooled significantly from their abnormal white-hot level. In August, the number of background checks dropped below that of August 2012. That’s the first time since May 2010 the number of checks dropped below the same month the year before — a span of 38 months.

Still, NICS conducted 1,016,559 (NSSF-Adjusted) checks in August — which marked the second highest number for August in the history of the background check system. While that’s a 2.5 percent drop in checks as compared to August 2012, it’s a 24.6 percent increase over August 2011.

Putting the numbers in this perspective may place a “good-feeling” band-aid on the state of firearm sales, but it does little to relieve the pain at the dealer level. They’re hurting.

“We’re fighting through the slowdown on the back end of a bubble, exacerbated by the continued damage from limited ammo supplies,” said Ron Buschmann, owner of Shooter’s Supply & Law Enforcement Equipment Co., in Louisville, Ky.
By Russ Thurman

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