Watch Mark DeYoung, Vista Outdoor chairman and CEO, celebrate the launch of Vista Outdoor
by ringing the New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell in February.
Vista Outdoor Launches: New Business With Deep Roots
Vista Outdoor Inc. began conducting business in early February as a new company within the outdoor industry, but one with very deep roots. The company, with more than 30 well-recognized brands in its portfolio, previously operated as the Sporting Group of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK).
On Feb. 9, ATK successfully completed a long-planned spinoff of the Sporting Group from its Aerospace and Defense Groups, which subsequently merged with Orbital Sciences Corp. to form Orbital ATK. The next day, Vista Outdoor’s common stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “VSTO.”
The following week, Mark DeYoung, Vista Outdoor chairman and CEO, marked the launch by ringing the NYSE Opening Bell.
“Today marks the creation of a new leading commercial and consumer-products company focused on innovative solutions, strategic customer partnerships, execution excellence and creating long-term shareholder value,” DeYoung said, who served as ATK president and CEO.
In discussing the formation of Vista Outdoor, DeYoung points to ATK’s acquisition of Blount International in 2001.
“That put us into the shooting sports industry, and we grew that business tenfold. We have become the largest player in the shooting sports, and with other acquisitions, we, frankly, are the largest player in individual recreation with our snow sports, golf, camping and other companies, as well,” DeYoung said.
The growth produced about $2.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 revenue, DeYoung said, and created the need for the Sporting Group, which included the BLACKHAWK!, Bushnell, Federal Premium Ammunition, Outers, Primos, RCBS and Savage Arms brands, to have its own focused strategy and leadership team.
“To accomplish that, we had to address the Aerospace and Defense side of ATK. We wanted to strengthen both sides of ATK’s portfolio to create two strong, independent companies. We crafted a merger with Orbital Sciences that gave ATK an about-$5 billion merger company. That created a couple of interesting benefits for Vista Outdoor,” DeYoung said.
Through the merger process and partnership arrangement between ATK and Orbital, Vista Outdoor spun off with very little debt, according to DeYoung.
“That was one key event. Vista has a very strong balance sheet, with a lot of financial strength and flexibility,” DeYoung said. “The other key aspect of spinning off Vista Outdoor, of course, is it has its own, dedicated corporate leadership team. I wake up every day and instead of having to think about defense and aerospace, and the Pentagon and NASA, I only think about the outdoor recreation market, along with our entire corporate team.”
The reaction to the spin-off has been positive, DeYoung said.
“Investors see the value of a focused corporate leadership team in a separately governed company,” he said. “All of our key customers I talked to, including those at SHOT Show, have been very supportive. They understand we’re going to remain very focused on the shooting sports in our portfolio of outdoor recreation.”
For consumers, DeYoung said the spinoff, while transparent, should be nearly invisible.
“They’ll still buy great brands, and buy them where they like to buy them at a competitive price. Whether those brands are owned by Vista Outdoor or ATK, we want this to be a non-event for our consumers,” DeYoung said.
2015 And Beyond
DeYoung says the industry must adjust to reasonable growth.
“We think 2015 will be fairly flat. We saw some corrections in 2014, coming off those peaks [of 2013]. We think 2015 is a challenging year, but there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm at the SHOT Show. When we get into the fall season of this year, we think we’ll begin to see some return to modest growth. Traditionally, this industry for the past 30 years has had about a 7 percent growth rate. We need to settle down for a year or two, return to some reasonable growth, and we’ll get back to a long-term growth profile that is right around those mid-single-digit ranges,” he said.
Looking to the future, DeYoung said Vista Outdoor will focus on innovation, growth and expansion.
“Whether it’s in snow sports, archery, firearms, ammunition, optics, arrows or cleaning products, we will continue to support all our brands with organic, innovative solutions and strive for growth and value. At the same time, we will continue our proven track record to be able to buy great branded companies and take them to market in a way that increases the value to our shareholders, supports the importance of our employees and drives a better solution for our customers,” DeYoung said.
Vista Outdoor is headquartered in Utah, where the company is planning to build a complex to support its operations, which include approximately 5,800 employees worldwide. Those operations, DeYoung says, continue to embrace the shooting sports.
“I believe we’ve established a reputation and track record of being focused on conservation, of giving back to our wounded warriors and those who have given so much to us and supporting strong organizations in the shooting sports. I was recently elected chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which, hopefully, speaks to my commitment to issues for outdoorsmen,” he said.
“Vista Outdoor will continue to be a great supporter of outdoor recreation and the shooting sports. And, although we will shape our portfolio around individual recreation, the shooting sports will always be important to Vista. It will always be a core business to us, and we’ll remain committed to it. I hope everyone will recognize and appreciate that.”
The Safariland Group Awarded Air Force Contract
The Safariland Group has been awarded a $17.7 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for law enforcement equipment.
The products Safariland will provide Air Force Security Forces over the five-year contract period are Monadnock batons, tactical holsters and accessory kits and Second Chance body armor.
“We have been working diligently with our customer Garrett Container for several years to meet the U.S. Air Force Security Forces equipment requirements. Our high-quality products, experienced work force and capabilities to meet large order requirements enabled us to be selected for this award by Garrett Container,” said Roger Cox, The Safariland Group VP of government sales.
All products included in the contract will be manufactured at the company’s facilities located in Pittsfield, Mass.; Ontario, Calif. and Jacksonville, Fla.
NSSF Launches Premium Range Membership
The NSSF is now offering Premium Range memberships. Modeled after the Premium Retailer membership, the new category will provide a variety of benefits and tools to range owners and operators.
“Over the past year, we’ve talked with many of our member range owners who expressed an interest in having a membership level that offered the additional benefits offered to our Premium Retailer members, but was tailored to the concerns of shooting range operations,” said Zach Snow, NSSF manager of shooting promotions. “We think the comprehensive list of benefits in the new Premium Range membership addresses those needs, and will prove to be a foundation for all ranges seeking to run successful and safe enterprises.”
Members upgrading to the new NSSF Premium Range membership will have several tools and programs available to them, including OSHA/State OSH compliance program review, 24/7 EPA and OSHA compliance phone-in hotline, professional media consulting, on-site OSHA mock auditing and access to NSSF’s legal defense fund.
USA Archery Memberships Climb
USA Archery, the sport’s national governing body, has released membership statistics showing archery interest continues to increase dramatically, especially among women and teens.
USA Archery has seen youth memberships increase 121 percent since November 2013. This is up from the previous two-year period, in which youth memberships increased 104 percent between 2011 and 2013.
Female participation in archery has seen strong growth. Memberships purchased by women are up 105 percent within the most recently observed 12-month period alone. Overall, USA Archery memberships have increased 84 percent since November 2013, with over 15,800 members today.
The archery industry has seen steady growth. The first nationwide archery survey, conducted by the Archery Trade Association (ATA), showed 18.9 million Americans participate in archery, and 5.8 million of them — close to 31 percent — are women.
“People are connecting with archery more than ever before, and we see that reflected in our membership numbers and event participation. Thanks to movies like The Hunger Games and The Avengers, people have tried archery and found it to be a fun sport they can enjoy throughout their lives,” said Denise Parker, USA Archery CEO and Olympic bronze medalist.
In response to the growth of the sport, the ATA, together with industry manufacturers and organizations like USA Archery, recently conducted the first-ever “Archery Showdown,” featuring an archery video competition between YouTube stars Dude Perfect and Brittany Louise Taylor. Together, the videos had over 12 million views in one week.
American Firearms Retailers Association Forms
The American Firearms Retailers Association (AFRA) announced in early January it had formally launched and is accepting memberships and sponsorship.
“AFRA is here to strengthen and amplify the voice of America’s firearms retailers with regulators, lawmakers and other sectors of the firearms industry with competing interests. AFRA is committed to organizing and assisting the retail sector of the firearms industry — small family-owned businesses like firearms and sporting goods retailers, pawn brokers and range owners, who are the backbone to the firearms industry and who stand a counter’s width away from the consumer,” the association announced.
AFRA also announced the formation of a Retailer’s Advisory Committee.
“Having an organization like AFRA will give all dealers, especially those in hyper-regulated states like California, a voice to protect our interests and grow our businesses and industry,” said Kris Jacob, Bullseye USA Inc. owner and a member of the advisory committee.
Mark Ballew (third from right) of Grant Thornton LLP presents a plaque to Brad Johnson (center),
USC CEO and chairman, recognizing USC as the fifth-largest private company in South Carolina.
USC Ranks High Among S.C. Companies
United Sporting Companies (USC), parent company of Ellett Brothers and Jerry’s Sports Center, has been recognized as South Carolina’s fifth-largest privately held company by the “30th Annual South Carolina 100” for the 2014 fiscal year. Grant Thornton LLP compiled the rankings.
“We are proud of the growth that USC has achieved over these past few years. Knowing we are now the fifth-largest private company in the state, and one of the largest participants in our industry, is a tremendous accomplishment and honor,” said Brad Johnson, USC CEO and chairman of the board.
Legacy Sports Adds New Business
Legacy Sports International CEO Gene Lumsden, in partnership with David and John Fuller, announces his company has branched out with a new business, Reno Cerakote & Hydrographics (RCH), to provide local, cost-effective decorating for Legacy Sports products.
The services provided by RCH include the use of Cerakote coatings, as well as decorating of other products. The new branch is also offering these services to domestic and foreign manufactures, importers, dealers and consumers within the industry.
According to Legacy Sports, RCH has access to over 3,000 patterns and is licensed by major graphics producers, providing a broad selection of available artwork.
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