The Boston Globe publishes an annual list which ranks the best performing public companies in Massachusetts. The winner this year probably surprised them but certainly not those of us in the gun culture. It was the 161-year old firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson which is located in Springfield.
In an article that is mostly unbiased for the left-leaning Globe, they explain why S&W topped the list.
With its sights trained on firearms once more, Smith & Wesson increased profits 14 times over in 2012, netting $66 million on sales of $538.6 million and rocketing to the first position on this year’s Globe 100 list.
‘We went back to what we do best, which is handguns. We divested the security business very successfully and since that point have not looked back.’ – James Debney, CEO, Smith & Wesson
But the company’s renaissance is not merely a case of addition by subtraction. In recent years, Smith & Wesson has ventured beyond its core revolver business, introducing popular polymer handguns and modern sporting rifles.
The latter — often referred to as assault rifles — represent Smith & Wesson’s fastest-growing product line. Sales increased by 85 percent last year, and a line that did not exist in 2010 delivered more than a fifth of the company’s total revenue.
“It’s become an important piece of our business,” Debney said, acknowledging some concern about legislative efforts to ban the controversial weapons. “But at the end of the day, we come back to our core competency, and where we’re strategically focused, in terms of product, is the [military and police] pistol.”
At the moment, civilian sales of polymer handguns outnumber law enforcement sales, 20 to 1. Smith & Wesson only launched a polymer handgun line in 2006, but the company now views it as the main driver of future growth.
Currently, Smith & Wesson is the third ranked firearms manufacturer by number of firearms produced in the US behind Ruger and Remington. Their current order backlog is approximately $668 million which is greater than the previous year’s sales.
Smith & Wesson was given a $ 6 million tax incentive to expand their plant back in 2010. That tax incentive required them to hire an additional 225 over the next seven years. They have already met this requirement as they have hired 350 new workers in the past two years to meet the demand for new firearms. Their payroll is now $80 million annually and their total workforce in Massachusetts now numbers 1,500.
There are a number of comments on S&W topping the Globe 100. Most are as one might expect from what JayG calls the Volksrepublik. They include stuff like “Glorifying a company that manufactures guns?” and “Surely there must be a more worthy #1 pick than an assault weapons manufacturer.” It is actually rather amusing to watch the wailing and gnashing of teeth over this. I know for certain that the 350 people who have gotten good paying steady work are not among them.