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 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.

Ruger’s Expansion

Mike Fifer, CEO of Sturm, Ruger, announced at their shareholders’ Annual Meeting on April 30th, that Ruger is actively searching for a third manufacturing facility. They are using a site selection consultant, Greyhill Advisors of Austin, TX, to help them narrow the search.

According to Mr. Fifer and the slides shown at the Annual Meeting, they have identified three “attractive sites” in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Ruger is not planning to build a plant but rather is seeking a manufacturing facility of about a quarter million square feet that is not being used currently. Fifer says they are looking for something relatively new, that has “phenomenal electricity”, and good transportation  that is located in a community that is Second Amendment friendly. The community should also have a good existing workforce and a number of engineers.

This expansion is being driven by new product introductions and not unit volume or capacity driven. Ruger has found over the last few years that new product introductions have not cannibalized existing product lines as expected. The freeing up of existing machines dedicated to mature products just didn’t happen. Fifer said that customers would go to the gun store spurred on by interest in the new Ruger products and end up buying both the new guns and the older guns.f

The goal is to move a new product line to the plant, transfer some lead employees to help get it started, and to be off and running in the new plant.

The rationale behind the third manufacturing facility is that they have just plain run out of space at the existing plants in New Hampshire and Arizona. Since 2006, they have increased the workforce from 1,300 employees to 2,100 employees while producing approximately four times as many firearms. Fifer said their run rate in firearm sales has grown in the same time period from $140 million annually to over $600 million annually.

Now it just remains to be seen which of the three sites they pick. As a North Carolinian, I hope they pick the Tar Heel State. Our unemployment rate is higher than the other two states under consideration, we have a governor and legislature that is pro-Second Amendment and pro-business, we have a great transportation network, we have plenty of engineers, and we have better BBQ.