The basic business model for many companies entering the firearms industry is: you’re manufacturing something, non-firearm related, have an idea for a firearm or firearms accessory, produce this new item, and then collect the dollars for sales. This seems to be the firearms industry business strategy today, especially with companies that recently entered the market with AR rifles and accessories. Then, like numerous other companies have done, they’re out the gate and bringing rifles and accessories to market in a wild and sporadic flurry. If they succeed, life can be good. Failure, however, has closed many shop doors as quickly as they opened. In today’s erratic firearms industry, with slumped sales and anti-everything legislation, failures are growing.
Noreen Firearms (onlylongrange.com/ 406-388-2200) in Belgrade, Montana is breaking this business model. The manufacturer is well known for a wide range of precision, quality rifles with tight tolerances. The AR rifles it manufactures are chambered for standard cartridges, like .30-06, .300 Win. Mag, .338 Lapua, and others. Sales continue for those rifles today along with the bad a** .50 BMG rifle the company machines, assembles and brings to market. Because today’s slower shooting sports industry business cycle has created lower production hours on the manufacturing floor for Noreen, they have found a way to expand and grow from a renowned, innovative, premium firearms manufacturer to now producing precision parts for a wide variety of customers outside the firearms industry.
Phil Noreen, son of the founder Peter Noreen, has grown up in the firearms industry and is running the production facility in Montana. As things have slowed in the industry, he has not been idle. In fact, he’s been very busy. The younger Noreen has been searching for machining projects in his local and regional markets and has been networking and reconnecting with long-ago contacts. He has been actively pursuing precision machining projects through a wide range of channels and has connected with clients around the globe. He’s discovered it’s a new business environment—that requires new ways of thinking—and new ways of keeping the CNC machines busy and his employees happy and on the payroll.
The diversified precision machining business side has become so successful that it could soon over-take the firearms production side in sales. Beyond barrels and lowers (yes, they still make those), employees are machining one-of-a-kind metal and plastic parts, truck and heavy equipment parts, and more. Phil and his team can deliver parts with quick turn-around on orders. In this go-back-in-business model, the company believes there’s more to come, and as word spreads through their vast network of contacts, business is growing.
“We discovered a local machine shop was closing, and we quickly picked up some of their clients,” notes Phil Noreen. “And as those clients received completed parts and precision projects from us, they spread the word up and down the chain in their business connections. With that strong network, the phone is ringing more every day.”
Another benefit, in addition to sales and income, is increased employee job satisfaction. Employees get to apply more skills, meet new challenges and make components they were not seeing under the previous business model. With more job satisfaction, comes less turn over.
So, what are some steps to success in reverse business growth?
“We check pricing strategies using numerous methods, look at the total production cost, and then guarantee a time for delivery,” notes Phil Noreen. “We know we are sometimes bidding against other machine shops on the global market, but our precision machines and skilled employees, along with their years of experience, help us win the projects or contracts.” The shop just completed a one-of-a-kind precision part for a prominent customer on the East Coast. The finished product is not used or sold in the firearms industry. Word of mouth and customer satisfaction helped bring that rush project onto the Noreen shop’s floor.
Now, instead of standing by and moaning the firearms industry is slow, Noreen Firearms is creating a second spin-off company—Noreen Manufacturing. Just another example of today’s changing business environment.
—Michael D. Faw
For more details, contact:
Noreen Firearms/ Noreen Manufacturing,131 Jetway Dr., Belgrade, MT 59714