Ruger to Open Third Plant – Expansion for New Guns

Ruger Plant ExpansionRuger is expanding.

Sturm, Ruger & Co is in the process of opening a third production plant to expand manufacturing capacity, and company president and CEO Michael O. Fifer wants to do it quickly.

“We’re running out of space,” said Fifer in the company’s annual shareholder meeting on April 30.

According to Fifer, Ruger will use the new facility to build new lines of firearms, not to expand production of current firearms.  Fifer stated he expects the new facility would build about ten completely new firearm lines.

To show how much growth Ruger has experienced, consider the number of employees employed at the Prescott, AZ manufacturing facility.  On the weekly Gun Talk radio program, Ken Jorgensen, Director of Media Relations for Ruger, told host Tom Gresham that there were about 150 employees at the plant in 2008.  Currently, there are about 750.

An existing, high-quality facility is what Ruger would like to find.  “I don’t have any desire to build something,” said Fifer.  He stated that there is more risk in building something, and he would prefer to get the new plant up and running “very quickly.”

Ideally, the facility would be of newer construction, about 250,000 square feet in size, and have a “phenomenal electrical [system] in it.”  Fifer stated the company would prefer not to be in an industrial park.

Fifer said Ruger would like the plant to be in a community that supports the Second Amendment, has a skilled labor force and has a low incidence of crime and drug use.

Ruger has employed Greyhill Advisors of Austin, TX to assist with the search.  Currently, three sites are under consideration, but additional sites can still be reviewed.  The current sites are in North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.  Texas, though, may have the edge.

Fifer stated the company had been in contact with Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office, and have discussed projections for the number of jobs that Ruger expects to create.  A meeting was scheduled for Fifer and Perry at the NRA Annual Meetings in May, although the details of the meeting are not immediately available.  Perry’s office has been quite active in bringing new business, especially firearms related businesses, to Texas.

At the shareholder meeting, Fifer stated he expects to hire 50-60 employees at the new plant immediately, with a total of 100 by the end of the first year.  He stated that they anticipate they would hire an additional 100 people each year until the plant was fully staffed at 500 – 700 employees.

One of the ongoing problems Fifer cited for Ruger was difficulty in finding mechanical engineers to help the company advance new projects.  Finding a community with a substantial number of engineers in the workforce would appear to be a priority for the company.

Fifer stated there are three “substantial” new gun projects that are “on ice” because they don’t have enough engineers to push development forward.

Based on the overall tone of the meeting, and Fifer’s statements, I would expect to hear an announcement from the company very soon on a site selection.  I would not be surprised if the company has the new facility up and running by the end of 2013.  That would put them into a position to announce new products at the SHOT Show in January 2014, and have the new manufacturing capacity to fill orders.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

23 replies on “Ruger to Open Third Plant – Expansion for New Guns”

No, Ruger doesn’t pass the political purity test…

…and from a practical point of view, what message does it send the employees, customers, and shareholders when the management is a couple hundred miles or a couple thousand miles away from where the actual “nuts and bolts, boots on the ground” part of the business occurs? I spent decades on production floors before my present job, and an absent boss is no boss at all. Which then begs the question, if the people in Hartford aren’t needed there every day, which ones aren’t needed at all?

I don’t think I understand what you are saying. Are you suggesting that Ruger cannot be extremely successful if they have a manufacturing plant located in a location other than where the corporate headquarters is? Neither of their existing plants are in CT, and one is on the other side of the country. Do you not believe there is some form of management on scene at these plants? Does the company president have to be on scene making sure the widgets get made?

If that is your belief, explain how Apple is so successful. I don’t believe any of their hardware is rolling off some line in Cupertino, CA.

As far as shareholders go, the majority of them are interested in a profitable business, which Ruger is. Certainly no one was at the meeting complaining. As far as customers go, most are looking for a quality product that fits their needs/wants. If there weren’t millions of people lining up to buy Ruger guns, they wouldn’t have the backlog they do, and they would not be opening a third plant.

You are certainly entitled to your views, but I don’t think you can speak to what Ruger is, or is not, planning to do in CT. Besides, what state is politically pure enough for them to move to that would meet with your approval. Near as I can tell, none of these 50 states are “pure”. Not Texas, not Florida, not New Hampshire, not Montana, not Nebraska…not anywhere.

I am saying that it is inefficient to have management in one part of the country and the manufacturing concerns in another part. I believe their are tens of thousands of successful businesses that are willing to share the same roof with those who actually cut chips and put stuff together.

My issue is: I don’t know what logic there that makes staying in Hartford so important in that Ruger would let it separate its management from its manufacturing so it can stay in an anti-gun atmosphere? We do have an industry here in my part of the country in which the management refused to be situated in the same, small town from which their salaries originated, so they moved the headquarters to Omaha. Maybe that is the same issue here. I do think that having headquarters in Connecticut will cost Ruger, the same as Bill Sr.’s refusal to sell 20 round magazines for the Mini-14 made it a pariah amongst many.

Bring it to east central Florida. With the early retirement of the space shuttle program, there is no shortage of engineers, machinists, etc. as well as potential facilities. This is a highly technical population with a strong pro-gun mindset in a state without income taxes. The Cape Canaveral area also boasts a strong presence of existing firearms manufacturers with ready access to interstates, railroads, airports (military and civilian), and the canaveral port. Brevard County has a lot to offer the firearms community

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