A Fresh Pursuit Of The Industry
By Jade Moldé, SI Editor
In January, Remington Outdoor Company and SIG SAUER announced they each would be expanding ammunition manufacturing facilities in central Arkansas. Remington said it will add 84 new jobs to its long-time ammunition manufacturing plant in Lonoke, while SIG SAUER will open an ammunition plant in an existing building in nearby Jacksonville — creating 50 jobs.
These moves were facilitated by an aggressive Arkansas executive team, which includes first-term Governor Asa Hutchinson and the staff from the Arkansas Economic Development Corporation. We had the opportunity to sit down with Gov. Hutchinson to learn why these two notable brands decided to invest in Arkansas, and how his office views the industry.
“We’re aware of the fact a number of firearm companies that had been historically in the northeast are actively looking for more friendly territory to move their business, so it made it an easy decision to make the recruitment of firearms manufacturers to this state,” he said.
To aid his state’s recruitment efforts, Gov. Hutchinson was the first sitting Arkansas governor to attend the SHOT Show because “it’s the place to be — a serious place to do business,” he said. In addition to Remington and SIG SAUER, the governor showed support for other Arkansas-based manufacturers represented at the show, which included Nighthawk, Daisy, Walther, Umarex and Thermold Magazines.
Courting SIG SAUER
Hutchinson revealed one of his top early agenda items was to make calls to CEOs and actively recruit the industry to Arkansas. This is evident in a press release disseminated by the governor’s office, which stated SIG SAUER was “one of six prospective companies Gov. Hutchinson called on his first day in office” in January 2015. According to the governor, several factors enticed SIG SAUER to build their ammunition plant to his state.
“In my conversations with them, they had made a decision to locate this premium ammunition plant outside of their home territory (Newington, N.H.), and we knew we were in competition with other states. A combination of Arkansas being centrally located with easy access to the market, the availability of facilities and a business-friendly environment contributed to SIG SAUER’s decision,” the governor said.
When asked what ultimately enticed SIG SAUER’s expansion into Arkansas, Gov. Hutchinson cited the importance of relationships.
“When you’re looking at investment and changing facilities, the incentive package that we offer is something that’s helpful, but I think the deciding factor in many instances is simply the relationship I hope to have built with the CEO and the personal commitment of a governor to be supportive of the industry as they come into the state,” he said.
“There is nothing negative about New Hampshire,” said Tom Taylor, SIG SAUER chief marketing officer and executive VP of commercial sales in an interview with the NH Business Review. “It’s just that Arkansas was very, very aggressive.”
According to media reports in Arkansas, SIG SAUER received $800,000 from the governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, along with a favorable income tax credit and sales tax refunds on materials and equipment associated with the expansion.
Remington’s Expansion Plans
Gov. Hutchinson met with Remington officials in February 2015 to discuss expansion plans at the company’s Lonoke facility. As a result of negotiations with Arkansas officials, Hutchinson announced Remington will invest $12 million in expanding its existing facility. It has also been reported that Remington received $2.5 million from the governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund.
“Remington is a world-class company that is making another significant investment in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said in the press release announcing this expansion. “Arkansas’ reputation as a hub for firearms and ammunition manufacturing continues to grow thanks to Remington’s decision to expand again in the state. It was a pleasure to meet with Remington’s leadership at the SHOT Show and I look forward to continuing to work together.”
“I am proud of the continued growth and expansion we’re experiencing at our Lonoke facility,” said Jim Marcotuli, Remington Outdoor Company president and CEO. “Our company’s ethos of ‘pride and precision’ is reflected in the quality ammunition our hardworking team members produce every day, and we are all looking forward to continuing this important work with the great state of Arkansas.”
Message To The Industry
So why is it important that a governor has named the recruitment of the industry one of his top agenda items? With the media delivering the blaring voice of anti-gun/anti-industry politicians, it’s refreshing to see a state’s chief executive actively engage the industry. Governor Hutchinson brings a simple message to industry manufacturers looking to escape “hostile” environments in their states.
“We understand it’s a long-term investment, many manufacturers have long historic relationships with many states in the northeast. So my message to manufacturers is: If at some point in the future they wish to expand, let us compete for it. We want to be on their radar; our door is open,” he said.
Some have labeled the South the “New Gun Valley.” These two recent expansions have further substantiated this claim. Do you see this continuing from the industry’s manufacturers? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
White Wolf Acquires Stag Arms
White Wolf, a private investment firm, announces its acquisition of Stag Arms. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.
Stag Arms was founded in 2003 to produce American-made Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR). Stag’s rifles carry a lifetime transferable warranty and an infinite shot guarantee on the barrels.
“Stag is an iconic brand with a well-deserved reputation for product excellence and world-class customer service. We look forward to partnering with Stag’s strong management team and employees to grow the company through new and innovative product offerings. In addition, we are delighted Mark Malkowski, Stag’s founder, has agreed to remain engaged with the company as a consultant. Mark’s deep knowledge of the industry will be invaluable as we build upon the excellent foundation he put in place,” said Elie Azar, managing director of White Wolf.
“It is with great enthusiasm I hand off ownership of Stag to the White Wolf team. I feel fortunate to be able to transition the business I started from scratch to a team that shares my philosophy and passion for the industry and who recognizes the exceptional capabilities of Stag’s dedicated employees,” Malkowski said.
Stag will continue to operate (under a new Federal Firearms License) out of its current facility in New Britain, Conn.
Safariland Group Acquires United Uniform
The Safariland Group has acquired substantially all of the assets of United Uniform Company Inc., retailer and distributor of equipment, tactical gear and uniforms for law enforcement and public safety professionals in New York state.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., United Uniform offers a wide selection of products through its three retail stores in New York and its website. United Uniform has been a customer of Safariland since 1992, and an exclusive distributor of Safariland products for more than 20 years.
With the addition of United Uniform, as well as the acquisitions of Atlantic Tactical in January 2015 and Lawmen’s Safety Supply in December 2015, Safariland has expanded its geographic footprint to 11 retail stores in the Eastern United States.
“United Uniform has a track record of providing excellent customer service and a diverse selection of top-quality products. This acquisition enables Safariland to better serve our customers by expanding our retail presence to new markets, with a focus on enhanced customer service and product experience,” said Scott O’Brien, Safariland’s president.
Josh Muskat, president of United Uniform, will continue to head its business operations, reporting to Jim Duncan, VP of domestic sales and distribution for Safariland.
“I look forward to working with Josh and leveraging his expertise in soft goods and uniforms across the broader Safariland organization,” O’Brien said.
“We are delighted to have Safariland’s strategic and financial support to help position United Uniform for long-term success. I have worked with Safariland for many years and am confident that, together, we will continue to create extraordinary solutions to best meet the needs of our customers and make our communities safer,” said Muskat.