Earlier this week I attended an open house at the new Ruger factory in Mayodan, N.C., and what I saw is clearly a home run for Ruger and for the local economy. Furthermore, I believe Ruger’s innovative operations indicate a bullish future in the firearms business, and perhaps more importantly hint at a comeback for American manufacturing in general.
Ruger CEO Mike Fifer explained that in recent years the company has increased production several times over and nearly doubled employees while maxing out capacity at its factories in New Hampshire and Arizona. In order to introduce new products while keeping up with demand for old ones, Ruger explored expansion in present and new locations before deciding to acquire an abandoned textile mill in north-central North Carolina. “We wanted an existing facility in an area that would welcome our business and we would find qualified workers,” said Fifer. “And so in finalist locations we conducted ‘job fairs’ to gauge local interest-but also to flush out anti-gun sentiment. Here we got a phenomenal response all the way. Good area and facility in a good state with a good governor. It’s where we want to be.”
The new plant encompasses 220,000 square feet and has ample available power and water resources. The local economy collapsed in the 1990s when the textile and furniture industies moved offshore, and so skilled workers-who also happen to be shooters and hunter-are keen to come to work for a company they know and respect. “The workforce is great for Ruger,” said plant manager Mickey Wilson. “This area and this plant are ripe for future growth with infrastructure that’s now in place.
For more on Ruger’s bold move to North Carolina, check out this insider tour of one of America’s most progressive manufacturing facilities.