Goodbye Massachusetts; Hello Tennessee!

An alternate title could be “How to Drive A 165 Year Old Business Out of Your State in Order to Appear Woke”.

What I’m referring to is the decision by Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. to relocate their headquarters and a significant part of their firearms manufacturing from Springfield, Massachusetts to Maryville, Tennessee. While they will have a number of jobs left in Massachusetts, they expect to have over 750 jobs in Maryville with employees relocating from their operation Massachusetts, Missouri, and Connecticut. The move comes due to proposed anti-gun legislation in Massachusetts.

SCCY Firearms had proposed moving much of their operations to Maryville but last year decided to expand in Daytona Beach, Florida instead. They closed their Maryville plant. I wonder if S&W will be using any part of that.

As a resident on the other side of the Smokies, I say welcome to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The full announcement is below:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Sept. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. , one of the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturers, announced today that it is moving its headquarters and significant elements of its operations to Maryville, Tennessee in 2023.   Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since the company was incorporated in 1852.

Smith & Wesson Logo (PRNewsFoto/Smith & Wesson)

   

Mark Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, said “This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative.”  He specifically cited legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state. “These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families, and enjoying the shooting sports. While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson.”

Smith indicated that the company vetted a number of cities and states and, after careful consideration, made the decision to relocate 750 jobs and its headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee.  The key factors in the decision included the following:

  • Support for the 2nd Amendment
  • Business friendly environment
  • Quality of life for employees
  • Cost of living and affordability
  • Access to higher education institutions
  • Availability of qualified labor for its operations and headquarter functions
  • Favorable location for efficiency of distribution

Smith continued, “The strong support we have received from the State of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson’s new headquarters. We would like to specifically thank Governor Lee for his decisive contributions and the entire state legislature for their unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment and for creating a welcoming, business friendly environment.”

Smith & Wesson will also close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri as part of consolidating in Tennessee. This process will result in the company reducing the number of locations it maintains from four to three and will significantly streamline its manufacturing and distribution operations.

The company emphasized that the move will not begin until 2023 and will not have an impact on employees’ jobs until then.  “Our loyal employees are the reason for our success and are always our number one priority. We are deeply saddened by the impact that this difficult decision will have on so many of our dedicated employees, but in order to preserve future jobs and for the viability of our business in the long term, we are left with no choice but to relocate these functions to a state that does not propose burdensome restrictions on our company.” Smith said. “We are making this announcement now to ensure that each employee has the time to make the decision that is right for them and their families. We are firmly committed to working on an individual level with each and every one of those who will be affected. We will assist any affected employee who is willing and able to move with financial and logistical relocation assistance. However, we also fully realize that this is simply not feasible for some. Therefore, for any affected employee who cannot move with us, we will offer enhanced severance and job placement services. We understand that this announcement will be very difficult for our employees, and we will do everything we can to assist them during this transition,” Smith said. All employees whose jobs are moved will be given these offers.

Key Facts:

  • The facility in Springfield, Massachusetts will be reconfigured but will remain operational.
  • Smith & Wesson will keep some of its manufacturing operations in Springfield, Massachusetts, including all forging, machining, metal finishing, and assembly of revolvers, and will continue to have over 1,000 employees in the state.
  • The new facility will be built in Maryville, Tennessee and will comprise of the company’s headquarters, plastic injection molding, pistol and long gun assembly, and distribution.
  • Total investment in the project is estimated at $120 million, will be funded from cash on hand, and is expected to be accretive to EPS by $0.10 to $0.12 per year once fully operational.
  • Construction in Maryville, Tennessee is expected to begin in the calendar fourth quarter of 2021 and be substantially complete by the summer of 2023.
  • Upwards of 750 jobs will move from Springfield, Massachusetts; Deep River, Connecticut; and Columbia, Missouri to Maryville, Tennessee.
  • The company’s plastic injection molding facility in Deep River, Connecticut, which services both Smith & Wesson as well as a significant number of external customers, will be sold. The Smith & Wesson portion of the operations will be moved to the new facility in Maryville, Tennessee, however, the external customer business will remain in Connecticut and will be divested.
  • The company’s distribution operations in Columbia, Missouri will be moved to the new facility in Maryville, Tennessee, and the Columbia, Missouri facility will be marketed for sublease.
  • The relocation will have no impact on the company’s operations in Houlton, Maine.

Stag Arms May Not Be Leaving Connecticut

I stopped by the Stag Arms booth at the NRA Annual Meeting on Friday. Given that their CEO, Mark Malkowski, had previously said they were leaving Connecticut and that the choice had come down to either the Houston area or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I wanted to find out if there had been any movement on that. Of course, I was hoping to hear Myrtle Beach.

If the company representative with whom I spoke is correct, there won’t be any movement. As in, they have decided to stay in Connecticut. He said they have four facilities in the New Britain area and they have decided it will be too expensive to move. The irony of this situation is that the firearms they manufacture can’t be sold in that state.

I should caution that this didn’t come from Mark Malkowski but rather from a representative at their booth. I will be following up with an email to the company to get confirmation.

Interesting Choice For Stag Arms – Houston or Myrtle Beach?

Mark Malkowski, President of Stag Arms, has an interesting choice to make. According to an announcement he made this past Friday, Malkowski has narrowed the choice for where Stag expands to either Houston, Texas or the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina. The ultimate decision will be made by the end of this month.

“South Carolina is very competitive,” Mark Malkowski said of what the state has to offer his company versus that put forward by the Lone Star State. “At this point, we’re spending our time evaluating the offers.”

 Assuming both states come up with comparable financial incentives, what advantages would Houston offer over Horry County (the H is silent)?

Houston would offer two major airports, two major universities with engineering schools, a number of technically skilled workers available with the downsizing of NASA, and all the amenities of a major metropolitan area including world-class healthcare facilities. The downside is that property taxes are higher, real estate and rents are more expensive, and, most importantly, wages tend to be higher. The overall cost of living as calculated by numerous cost of living calculators is about the same.

What about Myrtle Beach and Horry County?

First and foremost, it is closer to Connecticut. That was one of the deciding factors for PTR Industries when they relocated to Horry County.Workers that relocated from Connecticut are still within a long day’s driving distance of their relatives up north. Horry County officials are hoping that works in their favor.

Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., agreed that Horry County compares favorably in most areas with Texas, but hoped that Horry’s proximity to Stag’s Connecticut plant, quality of life and short distance to customers in Columbia and elsewhere in the Southeast could be the points that will sell Malkowski.

Both states have supportive Republican governors, good gun laws, and a welcoming business climate. Ultimately, I think it will come down to the intangibles such as quality of life. In other words, do they want to live at the beach or live in a major metropolis?

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).

Not Just Famous For Country Music

Nashville, Tennessee is justly famous as being the center of country music. It is home to both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. And, if the rumors being reported by The Tennessean are correct, the future home to a major Remington Arms manufacturing plant.

One of the nation’s largest gun manufacturers, Remington Arms, has looked at sites around Nashville for a potential corporate relocation or expansion that would likely include hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

The Madison, N.C.-based company, which is part of the nation’s largest firearms company and has its largest plant in Ilion, N.Y, has scouted sites near Nashville’s airport, Lebanon and in Clarksville, Tenn.

Why Nashville?

According to the story, a plant in Middle Tennessee would place it between their plants in Lonoke, AR and Mayfield, KY. Moreover, it would only be a 2 hour drive to their technical and research center in Elizabethton, KY. They also have a distribution center run by a third party in Memphis.

An expanded article in today’s Tennessean notes that owners of industrial locations are having their properties scouted.

Reports about Remington’s search for sites come as owners of large tracts of land and economic development officials said they’re seeing more corporate relocation and other prospects in Middle Tennessee. Within the past two months, local real estate investor and developer Bert Mathews has encountered unidentified prospects at his 180-acre Buchanan Point site near Nashville International Airport off Interstate 40.

They include a 50-acre user, a 10-acre user and other users that had sought space for a 250,000-square-foot building. “Everybody’s looking at Nashville,” said Mathews, also a past chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Local and regional economic development officials were mum when asked about Remington’s search. “It is the policy of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council to refrain from discussing business recruitment projects, whether they be rumored or real,” said spokeswoman Robin Burton.

If Remington chooses to relocate operations from New York, it would add to the list of companies doing or planning to do so in part to protest stricter gun laws.

I should emphasize that these are only rumors but I doubt The Tennessean would have run a story specifically naming Remington Arms unless they had a solid source confirming the visits by Remington.

On the face of it, Middle Tennesse makes sense. You have engineering programs at Vanderbilt and Tennessee State along with engineering programs at Tennessee Tech, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Memphis which are within easy driving distance. You have a transportation hub with the intersection of Interstates 24, 40, and 65 and a good airport. And you have a gun-friendly, business-friendly right-to-work state.

What’s not to like about all of that if you are in the firearms industry?

Jobs And Ideology, Part 2

You can add certain legislators in the state of Colorado who care more about their gun prohibitionist ideology than they do about jobs for state residents. As the press release from Magpul makes clear, if Colorado HB 1224 passes, Magpul will have to cease operations in that state effective July 1st. This would eliminate 200 direct jobs and up to another 700 jobs at subcontractors and suppliers.

Factories and machinery can be relocated to other states much more readily nowadays. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development in South Dakota which is a mere one state away has a special program to attract companies in the firearms and shooting industry. Likewise, Texas which is also just one state away from Colorado has a strong business climate and a very pro-Second Amendment state government. I’m sure adjoining states like Kansas and especially Wyoming are already preparing packets to send to Magpul if any of these bills pass.

Too bad some legislators care more about their misguided ideologies than they do about good paying jobs.


In addition to the national battle to protect our firearms rights, many states are currently engaged in their own fights. Here in CO, a state with a strong heritage of firearm and other personal freedoms, we are facing some extreme challenges to firearms rights. We have been engaged in dialogue with legislators here presenting our arguments to stop legislation from even being introduced, but our efforts did not deter those of extreme views.

After the NRAs visit last week, several anti-freedom bills were introduced by CO legislators, and a very aggressive timeline has been set forth in moving these bills forward.

The bills include:
HB 1229, Background checks for Gun Transfers–a measure to prohibit private sales between CO residents, and instead require a full FFL transfer, including a 4473.

HB 1228, Payment for Background Checks for Gun Transfers– a measure that would require CO residents to pay for the back logged state-run CBI system (currently taking 3 times the federally mandated wait time for checks to occur) instead of using the free federal NICS checks.

And finally, HB 1224, Prohibiting Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines–a measure that bans the possession, sale, or transfer of magazines over 10 round capacity. The measures and stipulations in this bill would deprive CO residents of the value of their private property by prohibiting the sale or transfer of all magazines over 10 rounds. This bill would also prohibit manufacture of magazines greater than 10 rounds for commercial sale out of the state, and place restrictions on the manufacture of military and law enforcement magazines that would cripple production.

We’d like to ask all CO residents to please contact your state legislators and the members of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to kill these measures in committee, and to vote NO if they reach the floor.

We also ask you to show your support for the 2nd Amendment at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb 12, for the magazine ban committee hearing and Wednesday,
Feb 13, for the hearing on the other measures.

Due to the highly restrictive language in HB 1224, if passed, and we remained here, this measure would require us to cease PMAG production on July 1, 2013.

In short, Magpul would be unable to remain in business as a CO company, and the over 200 jobs for direct employees and nearly 700 jobs at our subcontractors and suppliers would pick up and leave CO. Due to the structure of our operations, this would be entirely possible, hopefully without significant disruption to production.

The legislators drafting these measures do so in spite of the fact that nothing they are proposing will do anything to even marginally improve public safety in CO, and in fact, will leave law-abiding CO residents less able to defend themselves, strip away rights and property from residents who have done nothing wrong, and send nearly 1000 jobs and millions in tax revenue out of the state.

We like CO, we want to continue to operate in CO, but most of all, we want CO to remain FREE.

Please help us in this fight, and let your voices be heard!

We have included the contact information for the House Judiciary committee for your convenience:

House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Daniel Kagan, Chair: 303-866-2921, repkagan@gmail.com
Rep. Pete Lee, Vice Chair: 303-866-2932, pete.lee.house@state.co.us
Rep. John Buckner: 303-866-2944, john.buckner.house@state.co.us
Rep. Lois Court: 303-866-2967, lois.court.house@state.co.us
Rep. Bob Gardner, 303-866-2191, bob.gardner.house@state.co.us
Rep. Polly Lawrence, 303-866-2935, polly.lawrence.house@state.co.us

Boston Globe: Extreme Gun Control And Gun Manufacturing Can Co-Exist

The Boston Globe ran an editorial today discussing the potential for firearms manufacturers located in New England to leave for more gun friendly states if the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island legislatures adopt micro-stamping legislation.

Colt’s management has already told Connecticut back in 2009 that they will be relocating if the state did adopt the requirement for micro-stamping.

After devoting a full paragraph to how easily micro-stamping can be defeated and that it has questionable utility in the first place, the Boston Globe editors essentially tell the gun manufacturers to sit down, shut up, and put up with this intrusion into their manufacturing practices.

While firearms manufacturers have a right to lobby against this legislation and explain their objections to it, it is inappropriate to wield the jobs of hundreds of workers as a weapon. Micro-stamping does not place any significant burden on the sale or manufacture of guns. It is not a ban or an arduous tax. It merely requires the engraving of a serial number in one more place on the weapon. If a state legislature decides micro-stamping is appropriate, it should not be forced to choose between citizens’ lives and citizens’ livelihood.

The Globe’s editors don’t get it. They want to eat their cake and have it, too. They want to have onerous gun control and they want the well-paying jobs provided by the gun industry. Sorry guys but it doesn’t work that way.

There are many other states with good industrial locations, great industrial training programs, and which are gun friendly who would love to have the Colt’s, the Smith and Wesson’s, the Mossberg’s, and Ruger’s of the gun industry relocate to their state. Even the New York Times – the owner of the Boston Globe – recognizes this in a recent story.

The Globe concludes:

Massachusetts has had gun-control laws for almost three centuries, and the Connecticut River Valley has been a center of gun-making since George Washington established an armory in Springfield. There is no reason that both gun control and gun manufacturing cannot co-exist for the next few centuries as well.

Inertia and the existence of a well-trained force of machinists and gunsmiths is one reason that the gun industry has remained in the Northeast. However, if these states think inertia will keep the gun industry in a place that treats them like something the cat drug in, they are sadly mistaken.

UPDATE: For two other takes on the Boston Globe editorial, there are posts by Kurt Hofmann, the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, and by Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell.

Kurt notes that:

Industries have no moral obligation to remain in states (or countries, for that matter) that actively work against them. They have every right to move their tax dollars and good jobs to states that won’t use those resources to implement and enforce laws that work directly against the industries’ interests.

Sebastian takes apart their claim that Massachusetts has had 300 years of gun control.

The Globe describes gun control in New England as a “centuries old tradition”. Reality is, it’s not even a century old tradition, at least not for the kind of gun laws that the Globe regularly speaks in favor of. Most of it, in fact, is less than a half-century old, and much less than 25. Centuries old Boston gun control was regulating where and how one could set up for target practice on Boston Commons, or the old Boston ordinance that said if you’re going to store your rifle, musket, pistol, bomb grenade or artillery piece, it would be nice if you stored it unloaded/deactivated so as not to cause fire hazards. It was still, until the 20th century, legal to carry a loaded pistol around Boston. Does the Globe favor returning to that gun control tradition?