What Does Remington’s New Owner Know About Manufacturing Guns?
As the dust continues to settle on the bankruptcy sale of Remington Arms, it has become public that there was a lone bidder that was willing to buy the entire company, but it came in late and as a result, the Alabama judge handling the bankruptcy ruled it null and void. That ruling last week, freed a handful of buyers to pick and choose the part of Remington they're interested in, piece by piece. Now, one week later, we're still wondering what all of this means for workers and the local economy.
The sale has multiple buyers, seven in all. Ruger purchased the Marlin line, Franklin purchased Bushmaster, Sportsman's Warehouse purchased Tapco, and JJE bought Parker brands. Two ammunitions divisions were sold to two different companies and the big winner was Vista Outdoor which spent $81.4 million on an ammunitions plant in Arkansas and most notably, the Remington name and trademarks. Obviously, the Vista deal is a valuable one.
That brings us to Ilion, the birthplace of Remington and the home of the firearms plant for more than 200 years. The Ilion plant, the museum and steam power facility, along with a barrel-making plant in Lenore City, Tennessee, have been purchased for $13 million by the Roundhill Group, LLC, which has offices in Pennsylvania and Florida. Unfortunately, we know very little about the Roundhill Group, but some information is starting to filter out which seems positive for Ilion, that is, as long as we're willing to be patient.
Last week, the Roundhill Group released a press release which identified their intentions and offered a little glimpse into the future of Ilion's workforce, which has been mostly furloughed for more than a week now. The release came from Jeff Edwards, who is named as a Roundhill Group partner and spokesperson.
"As is known, Roundhill Group LLC and a group of experienced firearms manufacturing and hunting industry professionals is in the process of purchasing Remington Firearms."
“Remington, to me, represents the Harley Davidson of the hunting firearms industry." -Jeff Edwards
"Our intent with this acquisition is to return the company to its traditional place as an iconic American hunting brand. We intend to maintain, care for and nurture the brand and all of the dedicated employees who have crafted these products over the years for outdoors men and women both here in the USA and abroad. More than anything we want to make Remington a household name that is spoken with pride."
Edwards went on to refer to Remington Firearms as the Harley Davidson of the firearms industry and he talked about how much the brand means to him and the other partners in the group.
“Remington, to me, represents the Harley Davidsons of the hunting firearms industry. It is one of the oldest firearms companies and to have this opportunity to invest my time and energy to revitalize the brand that I love and truly believe in is a dream come true. I can’t wait for the day when it has the loyalty, prestige and following it once had. It won’t be long. Just wait and see.”
What About the Roundhill Group and its Knowledge of Guns?
The more we learn about Roundhill, the more it seems that the group is much different than the Remington ownership employees have come to know over the last decade. Still, there will be a transition period that will most likely be uncomfortable for many employees and the community. That became evident last Friday when more unsettling news came in the form of an unattributed memo from the old company, warning that the new company will be starting with a smaller footprint. The memo stated fewer employees will be needed going forward. Employees were told that they will be informed by October 12th, A) if the furlough/limited workforce needs to continue, B) employment will be terminated, or C) if there's a new offer of employment by the new company. A "new offer of employment" means that workers who return might be employed under the terms of a new and different agreement between the company and union, as opposed to the continuation of the current contract.
Despite the uncertainty, an interview Mark Keefe did with Edwards last week did shed a lot of positive light on the new company. Keefe said that while he had never heard of Roundhill and Edwards, people he knows and respects in the industry, have.
"He (Edwards) is an industry veteran," said Keefe. "He has been involved in turning firearm companies around and putting them in a better position for the future. Though I didn’t know him, he is friends with many of my friends, and they speak well of him," he said.
“We are going to work our [tails] off and make a good product,“ Edwards told Keefe.
Keefe added that the "new Remington" (or whatever it will be called) will most likely need to create a relationship with Vista Outdoor as it now owns the Remington name and trademarks. He was also optimistic about Ilion's future with Remington.
"Big Green,” as we like to call it, will not be the same, and it may be less than big going forward, but it appears that it has a future, one that will be determined by its leadership and, most of all, by its workers," Keefe said. "They will be judged by the guns they make."
So, while many thought the Ilion plant had been purchased by another investment group only interested in pinching pennies, the more we hear about the new company, the more it seems like they actually care about the brand. That would be great news for the Remington community. Either way, America's oldest gunmaker and Herkimer County's largest employer has been thrown a lifeline after practically being completely sunk by the bankers who drove it underwater. This is seemingly a best-case scenario for keeping the legendary name alive and the manufacturing of the actual Remington gun, in Ilion.