Vista Outdoor’s purchase of Remington’s ammunition assets from a bankruptcy auction in October was welcome news to employees at Remington’s ammunition plant in Lonoke, Ark.
Nick Sachse has worked for Remington for 28 years and is currently director of product management. He estimates that during his tenure there have been six owners of Remington.
This fall’s sale to Anoka-based Vista excites him because it is the first of those owners whose primary business is ammunition and whose whole business participates in the outdoors industry.
“I don’t know who could have purchased us that would have been more reassuring to furloughed employees,” Sachse said.
Vista owns Federal and other ammunition brands and a portfolio of other outdoor brands such as Camp Chef outdoor cooking equipment, Bell and Giro bicycle helmets and CamelBak hydration products.
It added Remington assets in October for $81.4 million. The deal included the Remington brand, trademarks and accessories business and the main ammunition-production facility in Lonoke. Remington’s other assets, including its firearms division, were acquired by other bidders.
Shari L. Gross • firstname.lastname@example.org Casings produced at Vista Outdoor-owned Federal Premium ammunition facility in Anoka, Minn., tumbled out of the production line.
The Lonoke plant typically employs 700 to 800 people, and during peak production has had more than 1,000 employees. But during the disruptions caused by the bankruptcies in 2018 and earlier this year, employment had dipped below 400.
Vista is now bringing back at least 300 more employees, including employees who had previously been furloughed or laid off.
The town of Lonoke has about 4,250 residents, and the Remington plant, built in 1969, is one of the town’s major employers and a source of community pride. Sachse said many Remington employees have more than 30 years of experience and families in the area who have had multiple generations working at the plant.
Remington was majority-owned by DuPont de Nemours & Co. from 1933 through 1993, but has had a series of mostly private-equity owners since. Remington was eventually driven into bankruptcy by several factors, chief among them a high debt load and product lawsuits.
Vista acted quickly in the bankruptcy auction and had an advantage in the due-diligence process since it had ammunition experts to vet the deal.
Being ready for quick turnarounds on opportunities was a big goal of Chris Metz when he became Vista’s chief executive in 2017.
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