Stag Arms: Goodbye Connecticut, Hello Wyoming.

Stag Arms announced two big changes today. Chad Larsen has been selected to be the new President of Stag effective immediately. On top of that, the company is relocating from New Britain, CT to Cheyenne, WY. The relocation will be completed by the end of 2019.

Stag Arms had announced in June their intention to leave Connecticut. They had previously thought about moving in 2013. However, due to family and supplier ties, Mark Malkowski, then president, decided to remain in New Britain. This time they were serious and began a national search.

In making today’s announcement, Elie Azar, Founder and CEO of White Wolf Capital, LLC, which owns a controlling interest in Stag
Arms, said: “We decided it was time to do a complete refresh of the Company. We needed to solve for three things: visionary
customer-centric leadership, a business-friendly, pro-growth economic environment, and a cultural climate that reflects Stag’s brand
image of independence and free spiritedness. I am pleased to report that we have found a solution that hits all these points.”


To find a new location for the Company, Stag’s Board of Directors conducted a rigorous process comparing dozens of potential sites
against a stringent set of criteria. “Cheyenne came out on top on most of the individual criteria,” said Azar, “and considering our
requirements as a whole, it was by far the superior site. Not only is Wyoming an incredibly hospitable place to do business, it is also a
top destination for outdoor recreation, including hunting and shooting sports, which reflects its citizens’ unwavering support for the
Second Amendment.”

Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY) was understandably pleased.

I am pleased to welcome Stag Arms to Wyoming and to know that our state came out on top of a broad look at potential new homes for the sought-after company. We have a deep-seated commitment to the Second Amendment that I will continue to uphold.

When Stag Arms announced their intention to leave Connecticut, business development officials for Cheyenne and the State of Wyoming didn’t waste any time reaching out to them. They helped with site location, workforce evaluation, and introduction to the community.

New president Chad Larsen comes to Stag from Aero-Precision where he headed new product development. This is not that surprising given that White Wolf Capital also owns Aero-Precision and Ballistic Advantage.

Azar noted, “Chad’s innovative genius with the Modern Sporting Rifle
platform stems from his personal emersion (sic) in the shooting and hunting community. He knows what customers want—and what they
don’t—because he is one of them.” Mr. Larsen is both an avid hunter and a registered 3-Gun, Multi-gun and USPSA competitor.

As yet another firearms company leaves “Gun Valley” thanks to high taxes, a poor business climate, and antipathy to firearms, what had been the center of the firearms industry is slowly becoming a shadow of its former self.

SHOT Show 2018: Weatherby Says Goodbye California, Hello Wyoming

Weatherby, the epitome of the SoCal style of hunting rifles, announced on Tuesday that they will be relocating their operations from Paso Robles, California to Sheridan, Wyoming. The announcement was made by Adam Weatherby, the grandson of founder Roy Weatherby, who was accompanied in the event by his father Ed and Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming. Gov. Mead was presented with a 70th Anniversary Mark V rifle by the Weatherbys in recognition of his efforts to bring their company to Wyoming.

Photo by John Richardson

The new headquarters and plant is expected to open in 2019. However, a quick glance at Weatherby’s website shows that they are hiring some critical staff as of Summer 2018. These positions include VP of Sales and Marketing, Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Director of Production Management, and Controller.

The Firearm Blog reports Adam Weatherby as saying the move was based on the incentives from the State of Wyoming and the desire for “more freedom to develop new products without onerous legal restrictions.”

The Wyoming Business Council released this statement about the move:

Firearms manufacturer Weatherby, Inc., is relocating its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, Wyoming, company officials announced today from SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the world’s largest annual shooting, hunting and firearms industry trade show.

The move is expected to create 70 to 90 jobs and more than $5 million annually in payroll in the next five years.

Outdoor recreation is an economic driver in Wyoming, and manufacturing plays a vital role in any economy, according to Shawn Reese, chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council.

“So, to bring those two things together – an internationally-known manufacturer of outdoor equipment headquartered in Wyoming – it will pay dividends, not only to Sheridan and northeast Wyoming, but this is a project of which the entire state should be proud,” Reese said.

Wyoming wooed the renowned gunmaker with its expansive access to unrivaled big game hunting, low taxes, industry-friendly environment, Sheridan College’s workforce training program and a comprehensive incentives package.

“We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle,” said Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer. “We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing.”

Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency, began recruiting Weatherby a year ago.

“Wyoming is a great place to do business and is excited to welcome Weatherby to Sheridan,” Mead said. “For over 70 years, Weatherby has been an innovator in firearms design and manufacturing. The company will add to our manufacturing base and fit well with our diversification objectives.

“I thank the Wyoming Business Council, the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority, and all who helped bring Weatherby, Inc. to Wyoming.”

Weatherby called Mead’s enthusiastic support and accessibility a major asset for a company operating in a highly-regulated industry.

“From the get go, when we met the governor, he said, ‘Here’s my number, shoot me a text any time,’” Weatherby said. “He responds to our needs quickly, and it shows a business like ours is important to Wyoming and that it’s a big deal here.”

Business Council staff took Weatherby officials on tours of potential sites for their facility around the state following the initial conversations.

Sheridan stood out to Weatherby executives because of its access to both the outdoors and a skilled workforce.

“There are a lot of great places in Wyoming, but Sheridan stood out as a New West community that’s progressive and growing, with a vibrant downtown in the shadow of the Bighorns and a mild climate,” Weatherby said. “Sheridan College, which is growing its manufacturing and machine tool program, was also a deciding factor.”

Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young called Weatherby’s recruitment an example of the work it will take to diversify Wyoming’s economy.

“This is the direct result of years and years of visioning, planning and strategically investing in the things that matter for the future of our region,” Young said. “With the help of Whitney Benefits and others, we have been strengthening and growing our technical programs for this very reason, and we will continue to provide opportunities for students to learn valuable skills to secure a solid future.”

The Business Council worked with the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority (SEEDA) Joint Powers board to develop a $12.6 million grant package. SEEDA committed $2,283,074 in local match funds, of which $322,874 is cash. The other $1,960,200 is in-kind match for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. The joint powers board will use the money to build a 100,000 square-foot building in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. SEEDA will own the facility and lease it to Weatherby.

Weatherby will invest an estimated $2 million in relocation expenses and cover all capital investment in the building and lot over the life of the 20-year lease, which is expected to be well over $4 million.

“We’re extremely excited to have this internationally recognized company choose Sheridan as their new corporate headquarters,” Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller said. “This relocation will translate to more skilled manufacturing jobs, an increased tax base and important economic diversification for our community and the region.”

Founded in 1945 by Adam Weatherby’s grandfather, Roy Weatherby, the family-owned and operated business has built a brand synonymous with quality craftmanship, a superior fit and finish and ballistic superiority.

The importance of family underlies much of Weatherby’s ethos.

“Our product is the main tool hunters use out in field. They may spend a lifetime trying to draw a tag or save for the hunt of their dreams, and we keep that foremost in our minds when we are building our guns,” Weatherby said. “This is an aspiration product; these are guns that are passed down from generation to generation.”

In my opinion the business climate in California for all businesses, not just those in the firearms industry, is getting more and more onerous. Currently, there is a proposal before the California Assembly to increase corporate taxes for all companies with more than $1 million in revenues. This is a move by California Democrats to capture the monies from the reduction in Federal corporate taxes passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. If you intend to encourage businesses to leave your state, this is how you do it.

Magpul Says Adios, Colorado; Hola, Wyoming And Texas

Magpul Industries has made it official. Their company’s new home will be in both Wyoming and Texas.  Back in February, Magpul drew their line in the sand and said they would be leaving Colorado if House Bill 1224 which limited magazine size passed the State Legislature and was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO). The Democrats passed the bill, Hickenlooper signed it, and Magpul is making good on their intention to move all their operations out of the state.

Magpul will be moving their manufacturing and distribution facilities to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Their company headquarters will be to one of three North Central Texas sites under consideration. Both the states of Wyoming and Texas have put together grant and tax relief packages to lure Magpul to their states. Moreover, both Gov. Matt Mead (R-WY) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) were involved in the pursuit of Magpul.

HiViz Sights moved to the Laramie area earlier this year. Alfred Manufacturing and Lawrence Tool & Molding, both of whom are suppliers to Magpul, had announced their intention to leave Colorado along with Magpul.  I cannot find any news on whether they plan to move their facilities to Wyoming along with Magpul.

Magpul’s official announcement is below:

Magpul Industries announced today that it is relocating its operations to Wyoming and Texas.

The company is relocating manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Magpul is leasing a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility during the construction of a 100,000 square foot build-to-suit facility in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. The Wyoming relocation is being completed with support from Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS.

Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas. Three North Central Texas sites are under final consideration, and the transition to the Texas headquarters will begin as soon as the facility is selected. The Texas relocation is being accomplished with support from Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

“Magpul made the decision to relocate in March 2013 and has proceeded on an aggressive but deliberate path” says Doug Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Magpul Industries. “These dual moves will be carried out in a manner that ensures our operations and supply chain will not be interrupted and our loyal customers will not be affected.”

The company began a nationwide search for a new base of operations after legislation was enacted in Colorado that dramatically limits the sale of firearms accessories – the core of Magpul’s business. Magpul plans on initially transitioning 92% of its current workforce outside of Colorado within 12-16 months and will maintain only limited operations in Colorado.

“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” says Richard Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer for Magpul Industries. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”

HiViz Sights Chooses Wyoming

At the beginning of April, HiViz Shooting Systems of Fort Collins, Colorado announced that they would be leaving Colorado due to the passage of the new gun control laws. They have now settled on where they will be relocating. It is to Laramie, Wyoming which is about a hour’s drive from their old location. As their release below notes, this will allow their current employees to commute to the new plant while they decide on whether to relocate or not.

From their release:

Fort Collins, CO- HiViz Shooting Systems President and CEO Phillip Howe is pleased to announce that Laramie, Wyoming has been selected as the new home for HiViz Shooting Systems.Mr. Howe said the move will be structured over a period of time to ensure uninterrupted service to the HiViz customer base. Building plans are being developed with the city of Laramie and state of Wyoming and construction could begin as soon as the summer of 2013.

“Wyoming has long been an ideal location for the outdoor products industries, including the shooting sports manufacturing arm of the industry,” said Bob Jensen, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. “We welcome Mr. Howe and the HiViz family to our state and we look forward to having HiViz products being produced in Wyoming.”

According to Howe, HiViz selected Laramie not only because of its strong support of the shooting sports manufacturing and supply chain industries, but also because of its close proximity to the present HiViz facility in Fort Collins, Colo., providing current employees the opportunity of a short commute while evaluating relocation.

The company also considered Wyoming’s tax advantages for the business and its employees, the various resources available through the University of Wyoming and a favorable location with a beautiful view of the Snowy Range mountains to the west.

“We are very excited about this announcement and what it means not only for Laramie and Wyoming, but for HiViz as well,” said Laramie Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) chair Megan Overmann Goetz. “LEDC and our partners at the Business Council have been working with Phil and his team on the best solution. We are happy that solution is having HiViz in Laramie conducting business in one of our LEDC business parks.”

“The decision to relocate the company was difficult and choosing the proper location was essential to our continued growth within the industry,” said Howe. “The fine people with the Wyoming Business Council and the LEDC worked diligently to accommodate our needs and make us feel welcome. We look forward to settling into our new home in the firearm friendly state of Wyoming.”

The relocation is rooted in Colorado’s recent tightening of its gun control laws, and the company announced April 1, 2013 that it would pursue a new location more supportive of its products and customers.

HiViz Shooting Systems manufactures light-gathering sights, recoil pads and accessories for the shooting industry. For more information, contact Jeff Maust, Marketing Director at (970) 484-8242 orjlmaust@frii.com.

 In contrast with Colorado where Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) had no trouble screwing both gun owners and those in the gun industry, the governor of Wyoming welcomed HiViz with open arms.

“We are happy to welcome HiViz to Wyoming. Our culture and people make Wyoming a great fit for the company. I thank Phil Howe and all of the employees of HiViz for choosing Wyoming as their next home,” Governor Mead said. “I believe this state has so much to offer all citizens and businesses, but moving is never easy. I want to assure HiViz and its customers that we will work diligently to make sure this transition is a smooth one.”

“I believe the great companies of Wyoming can attest to Wyoming’s climate for growth that should benefit HiViz,” Governor Mead said. “We have the most business friendly tax structure in the country and we combine that with an unparalleled quality of life.”

Now the question becomes where will Magpul end up. It could very well be Wyoming as well. That was what was suggested to me by Chris Wiggins of Pueblo, Colorado based Shooter Ready Radio whom I met at the NRA Meeting. He noted that at least one of their suppliers has moved to Wyoming. Of course, until Magpul reveals their decision, this is only informed speculation.