Human Technology – A Film From Beretta

P. Beretta is the world’s oldest continually operating firearms company. They trace their history back to 1526 making arquebus barrels. Their products range from the ultra-utilitarian Beretta 92 series of handguns to exquisitely beautiful double shotguns.

A few years ago they produced a short film illustrating the interface between high technology and hand craftmanship in their high end shotguns. It was exceedingly well done and perfect to watch on a Monday morning.

Congratulations To Tennesse On Landing Beretta

After looking at seven states and 80 potential sites, Beretta chose Gallatin, Tennessee as the location to expand its US manufacturing operations. Gallatin is about 25 miles NE of Nashville giving it easy access to Interstates 24, 40, and 65 as well as a large airport in Nashville.

Beretta USA officials along with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced today the company will expand its U.S. operations by building a new firearms manufacturing plant in the Gallatin Industrial Park. Beretta, a global manufacturer of high-quality sporting and military firearms, will invest $45 million in a state-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D facility. Beretta will create 300 new Tennessee jobs. The company is expected to complete construction on the facility this year.

As you might expect, officials in Tennessee are very happy.

Gov. Bill Haslam has this to say:

“Beretta is one of the world’s greatest companies, and their decision to expand into Tennessee speaks to the standards of craftsmanship and quality our state’s workforce embraces every day,” Haslam said. “Attracting a legendary company like Beretta reinforces our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs. I want to thank the Beretta family for their substantial investment in Tennessee and the 300 jobs they’ll create in Sumner County.”

Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves called it a “platinum project” and went on to add:

“It’s an international company. It’s well-known, it has an excellent reputation and we’re very excited that they’ve chosen (us) over eight other states.”

Earl Fischer, Chairman of the Gallatin Economic Development Agency Board of Directors, had this to say regarding the role of support for the Second Amendment in Beretta’s choice:

”Tennessee’s track record of
supporting Second Amendment rights definitely worked in our favor.”

The Tennessean reports that the state will be giving Beretta tax credits and infrastructure and job training grants. The City of Gallatin will be giving Beretta a “payment in lieu of taxes” grant.

Beretta will be buying a 100 acre parcel in the Gallatin Industrial Center to build its manufacturing and R&D facility. Construction is expected to begin in May and the first firearm is expected to come off the assembly line sometime in the first quarter of 2015.


I like what Bitter at Shall Not Be Questioned had to say on Beretta’s announcement and how the company’s concerns were dismissed by Maryland.

I find it amazing how quickly these blue, anti-gun states with leaders who claim to care about working class folks are so quick to dismiss the manufacturing jobs created by gun companies. The companies are clearly getting tired of it and moving.

Indeed.

UPDATE: The news above makes the fail noted here by Miguel even sweeter. Madison, by the way, is between Nashville and Gallatin.

Beretta’s Jeff Reh On Why They Chose Tennessee

Jeff Reh is the general counsel and vice-GM of Beretta USA as well as a member of their Board of Directors. In addition, he is the President of their Stoeger subsidiary. In the speech below, he explains why Beretta chose Gallatin, Tennesse as the location for their expansion.

Beretta probably would have expanded at or near their Accokeek, Maryland plant if that state hadn’t passed their onerous gun control laws in May 2013. Gov. Martin O’Malley and the gun prohibitionists in the Maryland legislature cost that state at least 300 jobs by passing the new gun control law. Moreover, I would not be surprised to see that more and more of the operations in Maryland will be transferred to Tennessee as time goes by.

As Reh notes in his speech, they only looked at states that had a consistent and strong support for the Second Amendment. While many in West Virginia are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, many of their politicians are lax in their support. It was specifically due to Joe Manchin and his push for gun control that West Virginia was crossed off the list of potential expansion locations.

The transcript of Jeff Reh’s speech:

“The Beretta family has manufactured products and done business from the same town in northern Italy for almost 500 years. This means that when Beretta chooses a location for its business, we plan not just in terms of a return on investment within the next few years. We also start with the possibility that we will be in that location for decades, if not hundreds of years, to come.

Around March 2013 the Beretta family decided to expand its manufacturing and business operations outside Maryland, where Beretta U.S.A. is located. We started our search by looking only at States that have a consistent history of support for and likelihood of future support for Second Amendment rights.

We then reduced this list of States further by looking at traditional business-related factors such as tax rates, cost of living, cost of doing business, availability of white and blue collar workers, traditions of high-level manufacturing in the area, the quality of local educational institutions, availability of job recruitment, screening and training, and so forth.

From that analysis we reduced our list of States to seven. Working through the Governor’s Office in each of those states, we came up with a list of 80 sites within those seven States that we then visited over the past five months. Based on those visits we narrowed the list of 80 sites down to six. Then we made second and third visits to those locations and reduced that list to three.

We scored each of those three locations using 20 evaluation criteria and, based on those evaluations, we unanimously chose Gallatin, Tennessee as the best of all the candidate locations we saw. Our choice was then confirmed through a personal visit by Mr. Ugo Gussalli Beretta, Franco’s father, to Gallatin on December 30, 2013.

I can say, based on this very rigorous search methodology, that not only was Tennessee the best State we found within which to locate our business, but also that Gallatin provided the best location for us within Tennessee. We thus move forward with confidence knowing that Tennessee is a great place to do business. We look forward to our opportunities here and we look forward to working side-by-side with our new Tennessee neighbors.”

Beretta Reported To Be Looking At Central Georgia

The Thomaston (GA) Times is reporting that Beretta was scouting central Georgia as a potential spot for relocation. The Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority had reported last week that a prospect codenamed Project Clover had toured the area and the Central Georgia Business and Technology Park. They confirmed it was a firearms company.

Later in a joint meeting between the Upson County commissioners and town councils for Thomaston and Yatesville, the head of the county commission said the Project Clover was actually Beretta.

During a joint meeting of the Upson County Board of Commissioners (BOC) and the Thomaston and Yatesville city councils Tuesday night, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston and Mayor Hays Arnold, both members of TUIDA, told the crowd the potential industry is Beretta Firearms.

“We had a very good prospect that, in my impression, is very interested in Upson County,” said Blackston. “They said we could go ahead and make it known to the public who they are. Beretta Firearms is looking to move to Upson County, which would be an impact of approximately 400 to 450 jobs on startup. That would put us on the global market.”

“Let’s make it clear, they have not decided on Thomaston-Upson County,” cautioned Arnold. “But, we are extremely high-ranking on their list at this point in time.”

The executive director of the TUIDA, Kyle Fletcher, said that Beretta was given an overview of the community on everything ranging from healthcare to the new fine arts auditorium. She especially emphasized the employee training opportunities offered through Southern Crescent Technical College’s Training Facility. According to their website, the college does offer programs in CNC Technology and Machine Tool Technology.

Thomaston and Upson County are located almost in the middle of a triangle formed by Atlanta to the north, Macon to the east, and Columbus to the west.

It should be pointed out that even if Beretta does open operations in Georgia they are not likely to stop production for the foreseeable future in Maryland despite that state’s laws. Jeff Reh has stated many times that Beretta has certain obligations to the US military for production of the M9 pistol that would be disrupted if they moved that plant. Beretta has also stated that with the passage of Maryland’s new gun laws that they shelved any plans for expansion of the Accokeek plant.

It was long thought that Beretta would probably do any expansion near their existing operations in Spotsylvania, Virginia. However, plans for a Virginia Railway Express station and a mixed-use development which are adjacent to the Spotsylvania operation have caused Beretta to look elsewhere.

(Jeff) Reh said he understands why Spotsylvania officials chose that site for the VRE station, and why they approved the mixed-use development. But he said Beretta doesn’t want to expand in an area that will be densely populated.

He said the company doesn’t plan to close its existing distribution center but is looking elsewhere for an expansion that could mean a $10 million investment and 50 new jobs.

Reh didn’t offer specifics about the expansion, but according to a letter he wrote to Spotsylvania officials in 2011, the company has plans for a new facility for “the manufacturing of industrial components and testing, either below ground or above ground, of firearms manufactured by Beretta U.S.A. Corp.”

Reh said the company is looking for about 100 acres for the expansion and is considering sites in seven states with laws friendly to firearms manufacturers and the Second Amendment: Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas. He said he was looking at sites in the Warrenton area this week and has met previously with Caroline County officials.

West Virginia would have been on the list except for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Beretta USA Responds To Signing Of Maryland Gun Control Legislation

Beretta USA has been saying for a while now that they would respond to Maryland’s new gun control legislation when Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) actually signed it. He signed it yesterday morning and they have responded.

They do not find the new law acceptable and consider it an insult to them and their employees. Beretta USA is evaluating where other than Maryland it plans to expand plant, jobs, and production. They cannot immediately move all operations out of Maryland as they have contracts for M9 pistols to fulfill for the Department of Defense. Moving the production machinery for these pistols out of state would cause unacceptable delays in delivery to the military. A recent interview with Guns.com has more on that here.

The full official Beretta response is below:

This morning, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law SB281, a bill that will severely limit the Constitutionally-protected rights of American citizens in the State of Maryland.

Following the signature of the Bill into law, Beretta has issued the following statement, regarding our company’s position regarding the law, and our willingness to remain in the State of Maryland.

You may also wish to read this article, outlining our future plans to remain in a state that has chosen to cripple its citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

“The firearm companies owned by Beretta Holding in Maryland — Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Benelli U.S.A. Corporation and Stoeger Industries, Inc. — have all been deeply concerned about Governor Martin O’Malley’s effort this year to impose broad new restrictions on the rights of Maryland citizens to buy firearms, as well as on the types of firearms and firearm magazines they can acquire. The Companies have submitted comments before the Maryland legislature and to the press condemning these efforts and stating that the Governor’s anti-gun activity is causing them to evaluate whether they want to remain in this State.

Notwithstanding some media reports to the contrary, those efforts have had some beneficial effects.

Through the Companies’ legislative efforts and with assistance led by Delegate Joe Vallario and others provisions were stripped out of the final Bill that would have required an immediate move of certain operations out of Maryland. The parts of the legislation that remained, though – and that were not deleted notwithstanding the Beretta Holding companies efforts to do so -remain offensive not only to our companies as firearm manufacturers, importers and distributors and as investors in jobs, taxes and income within the State of Maryland, but also to those of us who, as Maryland citizens, will now be encumbered with obstacles to our exercise of our Constitutional rights, such as a requirement we now be fingerprinted like a criminal before we can buy a handgun, without providing a commensurate benefit in reducing crime.

The resulting law that passed is not acceptable, even with the improvements we were able to obtain. In short, the law that finally passed went from being atrocious to simply being bad.

The question now facing the Beretta Holding companies in Maryland is this: What effect will the passage of this law–and the efforts of Maryland government officials to support its passage–have on our willingness to remain in this State?

In that respect we are mindful of two objectives: We will not let passage of this legislation prevent us from providing on-time delivery of our products to our U.S. Armed Forces and other important customers. We also will not go forward in a way that compounds the insult made to our Maryland employees by their Governor and by the legislators who supported his efforts.

Prior to introduction of this legislation the three Beretta Holding companies located in Maryland were experiencing growth in revenues and jobs and had begun expansion plans in factory and other operations. The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other States. At the same time, we will continue our current necessary operations within Maryland and we are thankful for and welcome the continued support of our employees as we do so.”

Who Will Be The First To Leave?

Now that both Maryland and Connecticut have passed their draconian gun control acts, the question becomes who among the gun manufacturers in those two states will be the first to relocate.

On Thursday, there was an article in Opposing Views suggesting that Beretta USA had announced their departure from Maryland. However, if you read the article closely, this is incorrect. What Beretta actually said was that they would have to leave if the gun control legislation was passed. They have not yet made a formal announcement that they were moving their operations out of Maryland. I’m sure that probably will happen but it hasn’t happened yet.

So that leaves the question who will be first. Moreover, where will they move.

Both states have a number of well-known firearms manufacturers: Beretta, Colt, Ruger, and Mossberg. However, to get a better feel for the companies involved in firearms manufacturing in both states, I went to the ATF list of Federal Firearms Licensees. I pulled the 07 FFLs – manufacturers of firearms other than destructive devices – and 10 FFLs – manufacturers of destructive devices for each state. It should be noted that some of the firearms “manufacturers” in each state either make components or are actually gunsmiths doing custom work.

Maryland and Connecticut each have five manufacturers of destructive devices including big companies such as Beretta, Colt Defense, Colt’s Manufacturing, and  defense contractor Mistral Group. Under the listing for ordinary firearms manufacturers, Connecticut has 121 companies listed while Maryland has 105 companies listed. Below is a list by state of some of the true manufacturers as opposed to either gunsmiths or those providing ancillary services such as CNC milling or specialty coatings.

Maryland

Connecticut

When discussing who will leave and who won’t, we need to keep a number of things in mind. First, you don’t just relocate a plant of any kind at the drop of a hat. Second, the companies involved have ties to their community and region going back generations. Third, very few, if any, of the manufacturers do everything and must depend upon local subcontractors to perform certain operations. Fourth, the companies would be losing a well trained workforce if they moved and their employees did not also relocate. Finally, with the firearm industry being heavily regulated, there would be immense amounts of red-tape involved in moving to a new state.

Dan Haar of the Hartford Courant looks at the issue in an article published yesterday entitled, “Gun Industry Dilemma: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?” He notes the issue for some of these companies is not just having to move family but the consumer backlash on their companies if they don’t.

Scalise (of ASC) badly wants to stay in Connecticut, where he and his wife have four children ages 5 to 12. So does Mark Malkowski, owner of Stag Arms a few hundred yards away in New Britain, and the executives at O.F. Mossberg & Sons and Colt’s Manufacturing Co. — all of them makers of the now banned military-style rifles at the heart of the law.

The trouble is not the direct effects of the ban — they’re allowed to continue manufacturing, and each firm will lose a few percentage points of their sales — but rather, the companies’ standing in an industry where customers famously punish certain brands.

The companies have been receiving thousands of emails from both current and future customers urging them to move. Some have indicated they will purchase from other companies if, for example, Stag Arms, stays in Connecticut. Moreover, industrial recruiters from more gun friendly states have been offering incentives to the companies to move. Whether they will move lock, stock, and barrel or move some of the production to plants in other states is the question.

Haar believes that the majority will attempt to grow production at plants outside of the state while still having some operations in Connecticut. He notes that Mossberg has a plant in Texas. It should also be remembered that Colt opened a new factory in Osceola County, Florida in 2011. Likewise, in Maryland, Beretta has some operations in Virginia.

Having established metal fabricating and finishing companies in a state would be a definite plus in attracting any firearm company to relocate. You would tend to find many of these co-located with the automotive and aircraft industries. Thus, you could see companies moving to the Upstate of South Carolina due to BMW, to Alabama due to Mercedes, to Tennessee due to Nissan, or Kentucky due to Toyota. Likewise, you could see a company relocating to the Wichita, KS area with its aircraft industry. All of these locations are in gun friendly states with strong industrial development recruiting departments.

So who would be first to go? In terms of ease of relocating, Ruger would be at the top of the list. Their manufacturing operations are in New Hampshire and Arizona. The only operations they have in Connecticut are their corporate offices.

The next on my list would be either ASC or Stag Arms. ASC is actively considering it.

Scalise, his accountant, lawyer and a few industry colleagues are looking into a move to a friendlier state. And it’s not just ASC, a New Britain business with 100 employees, that might pull up stakes. Scalise’s other company in New Britain, Marsam Metal Finishing, and at least one other firm in the firearms industry are part of the joint plan.

In all, more than 300 people would lose their jobs or be forced to move to a locale like Arkansas, South Dakota, Kansas or Texas, to name just four states that are wooing Scalise with tax breaks, cheap labor and a government that has open arms for arms-makers.

“We’re doing a due diligence analysis state-by-state,” Scalise said.

Mark Malkowski of Stag is also considering moving.

Mark Malkowski, the 34-year-old founder of Stag Arms, said he grew up in New Britain, where the company is based, and had never before considered leaving the state. But he said he would consider it now.

“If our product is so bad, so dangerous, why would the state of Connecticut want us to produce it here, create jobs here, manufacture it here and ship it to all the other states?” he said.

You would also have to put Beretta up high on the list given their past statements.

As to the others, I foresee that they will move more and more operations out of state as time goes by.  While they all can “export” their products for now, you have to wonder how long the state will even allow that.

This all leaves one more entity to consider – the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It is hard for me to see just how long they can remain in Connecticut and not be considered to be tacitly endorsing the Connecticut gun control laws by staying.