Ruger Expands In North Carolina

Ruger will be adding 60 new jobs at its Mayodan, North Carolina manufacturing plant. Along with the new jobs, it will be spending upwards of $10 million in capital improvements according to a story in the Greensboro News-Record.

The plant currently employs 490 workers. The new jobs will have an average salary of $44,033 per year which is $9,000 above the Rockingham County average.

The Rockingham County Commissioners also approved a performance-based economic incentives in a unanimous vote.

From the News-Record prior to the December 7th meeting:

The company has been made eligible for up to $150,000 in performance-based economic incentives from the One North Carolina Fund, which requires matching local incentives.

Rockingham Board of Commissioners are expected to approve Monday night a performance-based tax incentive worth up to $234,799, according to county manger Lance Metzler.

“We only know the company has seen considerable demand for its products, resulting in the search for a location to expand capacity,” Metzler said.

“They are such a good company to have as part of our community and offer some outstanding job opportunities to our residents with good-paying jobs.”

The expansion also generated a news release from anti-gun Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC). It must have killed him to say nice things about Ruger but money is money and jobs are jobs.

“North Carolina’s skilled workforce continues to make our state a smart choice for growing manufacturers,” Governor Cooper said. “Today’s expansion by Sturm, Ruger & Co. highlights our state’s commitment to growing with companies and is a strong investment in the future of Rockingham County.” 

The expansion is thought to be related to the acquisition of Marlin in the Remington bankruptcy. It is reported that production of the Marlin firearm line will be split between the Mayodan plant and Ruger’s Newport, New Hampshire plan.

Ruger Comes To North Carolina And Does Good

Ruger comes to North Carolina, builds rifles, and then does good for the community. Is this the picture of an evil company that builds “instruments of war” so that kids can kill one another on our city streets? Of course, it isn’t and Ruger doesn’t build instruments of war either. Instead it is the picture of a company that opens a new plant in a semi-rural location and then seeks to help out the community.

Though production wasn’t originally expected to begin at Ruger’s new Mayodan, North Carolina plant until the first quarter of 2014, it actually began ahead of schedule in 2013. Ruger is taking five of the Ruger American Rimfire Rifles that were produced in the first production run and auctioning them off for five local charities in the Rockingham County – northern Guilford County area. Ruger will also be making the rest of that first run of 1,000 rifles available for sale only in the Carolinas.

Ruger’s announcement regarding the charities and the link to the auction is below:

Ruger To Auction First Production Run Ruger American Rimfire™ Rifles From Mayodan, NC

March 14, 2014

In September 2013, Ruger finalized the purchase of a 220,000 square foot facility in Mayodan, NC. This was the Company’s first major expansion in over 25 years, and production was expected to begin during the first quarter of 2014. Production actually began late Fall of 2013! The boxes of the first 1,000 rifles were affixed with a special “First Production Run” sticker. Rifles with serial numbers 832-01001 through 832-02000 were the only ones to leave the factory with this special sticker. We are auctioning five of those rifles. The other 995 rifles were circulated through distribution in the Carolinas only.

The serial numbers of these auction rifles are: 832-01920; 832-01931; 832-01940; 832-01958 and 832-01960. The testfire date for all five is December 3, 2013. 100% of the proceeds from each of these auctions will be donated to the following five local organizations: Camp Carefree, Stokesdale, NC; the Salvation Army, Mayodan, NC; Reformers Unanimous, Stoneville, NC; the American Cancer Society, Rockingham Co., NC; and the Western Rockingham Firefighters Association, Mayodan, NC.

The Ruger American Rimfire™ rifle is made of alloy steel with a satin blued finish and features a 22-inch barrel, fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight. The stock is black composite and includes two interchangeable stock modules that provide comb height options for scope or sight use. It also features the detachable, flush-mounted 10/22® BX-1 10-round rotary magazine. Included in the auction is an original instruction manual, marketing materials and an extra “First Production Run” sticker. To learn more about this auction, visit

Ruger Finalizes Purchase Of NC Plant

Ruger announced yesterday that they had completed the purchase of the former Unifi plant in Mayodan, North Carolina.

September 03, 2013

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE-RGR) announced today that it has finalized the purchase of a 220,000 square foot facility in Mayodan, North Carolina. This is the Company’s first major expansion in over 25 years, and production at the new facility is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2014.

In conjunction with Ruger’s announcement, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners approved their package of incentives for Ruger and the Mayodan Town Council is expected to do the same next Monday.

As part of their deal, the town of Mayodan and Rockingham County officials had to offer incentives to the company.

Rockingham County Commissioners approved incentives in the amount of $942,000, Tuesday night.

Mayodan has scheduled a public meeting for September 9 on their incentives offer to Ruger. Town officials are offering $823,000.

The company won’t receive any incentives until 2015 and it will be over a 14 year period.

The manager of the new Ruger plant, Mickey Wilson, said at the commissioners’ meeting that Ruger wanted to be in Rockingham County.

“We sought Rockingham County,” Wilson said. “It was all based on available real estate at the beginning and through our diligence process we found that the workforce was equally as good as the available real estate.”

“Plus we’re big on Second-Amendment rights,” said Vice Chariman Craig Travis.

 There is no word yet on exactly what firearms will be made at the Mayodan plant. However, some production will be shifted from the Newport, NH plant to Mayodan according to the plant manager.

Mickey Wilson, the plant manager, said the company will shift two production lines from Ruger’s New Hampshire plant, with the other lines being dedicated to new products and designs. The initial hiring will include production workers, tool makers and engineers for manufacturing and product design.

“We are planning for a soft opening in the first quarter, but we would like to go full force as quickly after that as we can,” Wilson said.

Just last week, Ruger announced their new Ruger American Rimfire rifle. This was the first new firearm introduced by Ruger since January at the SHOT Show. I’m sure they have more designs ready to go and are only waiting for the production lines to be set up in Mayodan.

It’s More Than Official Now

While Ruger made their official announcement that they intended to open their third plant in Mayodan, North Carolina back in early July, it became really official yesterday with an announcement ceremony involving Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC), numerous state and local officials, and Ruger CEO Mike Fifer.

From the Rockingham County’s local paper, the News-Advance:

The busy atmosphere outside Unifi’s former dye plant on Cardwell Road in Mayodan on Tuesday morning was only a small indication of things to come. More than 150 people gathered under a tent beside the 221,000-square-foot building to hear Gov. Pat McCrory make the official announcement that Sturm, Ruger & Co. would locate the company’s newest manufacturing facility in Rockingham County.

McCrory said the new plant would create more than 450 new jobs and invest more than $26 million in the Mayodan location by the end of 2017.

Video of the event from the Winston-Salem Journal can be seen here.

Included in the incentives to Ruger from the State of North Carolina is a Job Development Investment Grant that could be worth as much as $9.6 million according to the press release from the Governor’s Office.

The project was made possible in part by an award to Ruger from the state Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program, as voted by the state Economic Investment Committee. Receipt of the award is based on proof of job creation and other performance requirements. JDIGs are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state, and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant.

Under the terms of the company’s JDIG award, Ruger is eligible to receive up to twelve annual grants equal to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created since the date of the initial award. Receipt of each annual grant is based on state-certified proof that the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. Over twelve years, the JDIG award could yield aggregate benefits to Ruger of up to $9.46 million upon creation of 473 new jobs.

This report from WFMY-TV2 in Greensboro discusses more about the grants. Rockingham Community College will receive $700,000 for workforce training with another $372,000 going to Ruger for employee training. In addition, people and businesses in the Town of Mayodan are quite excited about the possibilities that the new Ruger plant will bring to that town.

Other anecdotal evidence that the people of Mayodan and Rockingham County are on board with the Ruger expansion comes from Perry Hughes who is the chairman of the career and technology education department at Rockingham Community College. Registration for fall classes began yesterday at 10am. He had a student who arrived before 7:30am to be first in line for a slot in their machining program.

“We’re starting to look at ways to expand our machining program capacity and Ruger hasn’t even arrived yet,” Hughes said.

The final day registration for courses at RCC opened, Hughes said he arrived at his office at 7:30 a.m. to prepare for the 10 a.m. registration. One young man was already sitting outside the door when Hughes arrived.

“He said he had already been there for a while, but wanted to make sure he was first in line,” Hughes said.

It was fortunate the young man made that decision. Hughes said he only had two slots left in the machining program.

“Education is a supply and demand industry and right now our demand is much greater than the supply,” Hughes said. “With industries like Ruger coming to the area, we’re going to have to find ways to work with these companies and expand our programs to meet the demand. We’ve even considered the possibility of having day and night classes to allow for more students.”

RCC has an associate’s degree program in computer-integrated machining which I’m sure will be sending a number of graduates to Ruger over the coming years.

UPDATE: More on the official announcement as well on how the RCC computer-integrated machining program will tie into Ruger’s plans from WGHP-Fox8 in High Point.

Comparing Apples And Oranges

The Winston-Salem (NC) Journal had an interesting article today questioning whether the new Ruger plant would turn out to be a bust for Mayodan like the Dell Computer plant was for Winston-Salem.

Dell Computer brought a $110 million plant to Winston-Salem in 2004 in order to keep up with demand for their personal computers. At its peak, the plant employed over 1,100 workers. Dell is now in the process of shutting that plant down.

At the time that the Dell plant was announced in 2004, the article states that stock analysts were questioning the need for a new plant when the market for PCs was becoming saturated and Dell faced strong competition. The Journal sees similar parallels with the Ruger expansion to Mayodan.

Still, there are analysts who question whether opening a third Ruger plant is prudent. They wonder how many firearms gun buyers want or need before feeling fully stocked.

“While most industry executives believe this surge in demand should still have some steam left in the tank, it’s safe to say it certainly won’t last forever,” said Steve Symington, an analyst with The Motley Fool.

“From an investor’s standpoint, we can’t forget there’s risk involved” with Ruger’s expansion plans,” Symington said.” Ruger could be overbuilding its manufacturing facilities only to watch demand for its products taper off.”

There are a few problems with the Journal’s attempt to make the comparison between the Dell plant and the new Ruger expansion in North Carolina.

First, the stock analysts who criticized the Dell expansion in 2004 were Wall Street professionals with an intimate knowledge of both the market and Dell’s finances. By contrast, Steve Symington who writes for The Motley Fool is an amateur writing on an investment website. There is a qualitative difference between the two.

Second, the firearms industry is much more regulated than the computer industry as well as more mature. There is no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Computers, no special licenses are needed to make a computer, and you don’t see the United Nations passing a CTT – Computer Trade Treaty. A computer company can move production of personal computers offshore to a China or a Taiwan quite quickly and quite easily. While there are a number of overseas firearms manufacturers, due to both regulation and the nature of the product you just can’t move production offshore at the drop of a hat.

Third, there is a whole new cohort of firearms owners coming into the market which is driving its expansion. What Michael Bane calls Gun Culture v.2.0 is concerned with personal protection. A recent study of new gun owners by the National Shooting Sports Foundation confirms this interest in personal protection. These new gun owners also tend to be more active and shoot at least once a month.

Fourth, gun owners who are active in shooting and personal protection tend to own more than one firearm. What you can do with a laptop PC is virtually the same as what you can do with a desktop PC. It is not the same with firearms. Firearms are much more specialized as to task than are computers. While your Ruger 10-22 could be used for personal protection, you can’t use it for carrying concealed.

Fifth, Ruger is at capacity. Both the Prescott and Newport plants are at full production and have no more room for expansion. New product introductions currently account for 35% of the company’s sales growth. If Ruger is to continue to grow, they must expand. Even if overall market demand for firearms does begin to slow which it will sometime, the stronger companies such as Ruger should continue to grow their market share.

Finally, building a plant in North Carolina is a hedge against the political risk that is growing in New England. While it hasn’t spread to New Hampshire yet, the political culture of that state is rapidly changing due to in-migration from Massachusetts. If things get bad enough in New Hampshire, Ruger could move that production to North Carolina.

Thus, for the reasons I’ve outlined, I don’t see a Ruger plant in Mayodan going the way of a Dell plant in Winston-Salem. I’m sure the author thought it made for an interesting comparison but his premises were all wrong.

UPDATE: The Captain at Captain’s Journal has his take on this article here. He concludes:

 If firearms manufacturers stay in the North, they will become obsolete
and eventually go out of business.  If they relocate to the South, a welcome party awaits.  So much for the “experts.”  Ruger knows what they’re doing.

Mayodan Updates Ordinances For Ruger

The Town of Mayodan recognizes the importance of getting the new Ruger plant in their community. In addition to the expected economic incentives from the town, county, and state, Mayodan approved a change in their ordinances concerning the discharge of firearms within city limits.

According to the local paper, The News and Advance, Mayodan’s Town Council changed the ordinance Monday to allow firearms manufacturers to test firearms in their plant within city limits.

On Monday, Mayodan Town Council approved a set of amendments to a town ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the corporate limits.

One change allows industrial facilities to manufacture and test firearms “within an enclosed facility controlled by the manufacturer and not open to the general public as a shooting range.”

Town manager Michael Brandt told council members the exception allowed a firearms manufacturer to test their product at their own facility.

“To eliminate any gray area, we felt that exception should be included here also,” Brandt said. “So, this would make it clear that a manufacturer of firearms, when testing their materials, would be just like any other business testing their product before sales.”

It’s good to see a town treat a firearms compnay just like any other business.

Mayodan Expects A Multiplier Effect On Jobs With Ruger

Officials with the Town of Mayodan and Rockingham County expect that the manufacturing jobs brought there with Ruger’s new manufacturing plant will only be the beginning. They expect a 2:1 ratio of jobs created as a result of Ruger’s expansion. These new jobs will come from both suppliers and service businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops.

WFMY News 2 in Greensboro reports on this expected multiplier effect. They also report on the site selection process that Ruger and its advisor Greyhill Advisors used to decide on Mayodan. I found it interesting that went so far as to attend the local churches to get a feel for the area.

Ruger Is The “Industry Leading Firearms Manufacturer” In Question

A little over a week ago I had a post regarding news that an “industry leading firearms manufacturer” was considering the town of Mayodan in Rockingham County, North Carolina for a plant expansion. Officials at the time would not name the company in question but did rule out Remington Arms which is headquartered in nearby Madison.

I speculated at the time that it would be Ruger because of remarks CEO Michael Fifer had made at the annual meeting. It turns out I was correct.

The News and Advance of Rockingham County confirmed that it was Ruger holding the interviews with potential new hires.

Darrell Freeman of Madison, Brad Young of Reidsville and Steven Sherwood from Davidson County heard about the manufacturer’s request for interview applications from different sources. Freeman said his wife saw an announcement on Facebook, while Sherwood heard a television news report and Young saw it on a news media’s website.

The three new friends confirmed the company considering a Mayodan location was Sturm Ruger & Co. – a Connecticut-based corporation with manufacturing facilities in New Hampshire and Arizona. They also said Mayodan was one of three potential locations for a new manufacturing plant.

Interviews with Ruger’s consultants, Greyhill Advisors, by the Greensboro News-Record also confirmed that it would be Ruger. Locations in South Carolina and Texas are also under consideration. Daniel Kah, a spokesman for Greyhill said they were very pleased with the turnout in Mayodan especially given the short notice. As to how many employees would eventually be hired, he had this to say:

How many people will be hired is still unknown. Kah said it would be a “meaningful number of employees,” somewhere in the hundreds.

However, more jobs could develop.

“Depending upon what lines were located (at the plant ) and how the growth went, it could be somewhere between 300 and 500 people,” Kah said.

Kah went on to say that Ruger expects to make a decision in about two months.

Graham Pervier of the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and Tourism Development told WFMY-TV News 2 that they were encouraged but realized the other sites were still under consideration.

“Industry Leading Firearms Manufacturing Company” Is Considering Rockingham County, NC

The Town of Mayodan and the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and Tourism Development have announced that an industry-leading firearms company” is considered locating a major facility in Mayodan. The unnamed company will be hosting an open house on June 18th for potential employees. They are trying to find out if there are enough qualified employees to staff the plant.

As I posted in mid-May, Ruger had announced at their Annual Meeting that they had narrowed their search for their third manufacturing plant down to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. One of their major requirements was an existing manufacturing facility of approximately 250,000 square feet. Rockingham County has approximately six available facilities that would meet this qualification according to a list from
Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and Tourism Development. Mayodan has two facilities on this list that were former Unifi Textile plants. 

Rockingham County is also home to the headquarters of Remington Arms/Freedom Group which has about 200 employees in Madison. However, as WGHP MyFox8 reports, the company considering Mayodan is not Remington.

Officials have not disclosed what the company is, but Graham Pervier, president of the RCPETD, said it is not Remington Arms.

Pervier could not say how many jobs would be created as a result of the possible expansion, but he said it is “a substantial number.”

The company is now working to decide whether the region has enough qualified candidates to support the expansion, Pervier said.

Town officials in Mayodan are quite excited about this possible new company and are strongly urging potential candidates to send their resumes.

“We’re pretty excited about what this could mean for our community,” Mayodan Town Manager Michael Brandt said. “This offers the potential to reuse one of our existing buildings and provide hundreds of much needed jobs for the area.”

Brandt said the amount of support demonstrated in this early candidate screening process would be a major determining factor in the company’s decision on location.

“So we really need people with the right skills and experience to apply as soon as possible,” Brandt said. “There’s a short timeframe here and we want to show the workforce is here and ready.”

The latest unemployment reports show that Rockingham County has a 10% unemployment rate. Mayodan, which is located in western Rockingham County, is located equidistant (or about 30 miles) from both Greensboro and Winston-Salem.