Ron Coburn for President?


For all the talk about creating manufacturing jobs in the private sector, actually C.E.O. Ron Coburn of Savage Arms has a better track record than any candidate for president of late. A 12 year old Ron Coburn purchased a poly-choke Stevens pump so he could go pheasant hunting from a pawnshop. Later, he hitch-hiked to London to see the Beatles. Young and broke, Ron Coburn got a job as a welder at Ford. By the time he was 23, he already had a business degree and an engineering degree. He went to Greece and worked as a skipper's mate. He went to Munich and worked for Siemens for nearly six years. Then it was London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and then a stint as Director of Engineering for S & W. He them turned around Case Knives, and accepted his position at Savage Arms.

To save Savage, 600 employees were reduced to 100 with the Model 11 as the only product. Essentially insolvent, in 18 months Savage was out of bankruptcy and had paid off the debt. By 1994 the company was solid, and the owners decided to sell Savage to a competitor in order to raise some cash. So Coburn assembled his team and bought the place. Also in 1994 he bought Lakefield Arms in Canada.

Now, 18 years later, Savage Arms is the largest rimfire manufacturer in the world, the largest bolt-action centerfire rifle company in the world, and they have formed Savage Range Systems and acquired Bowtech, the largest bow company in the world. Some folks have the impression that firearm companies are General Motors size, but that isn't remotely true. Savage has had something like 180 employees for the last several years, including both plants. However, last year all the planning, preparation, cross-training, and assembling a team of skilled, motivated folks finally popped. Sales have exploded, a 70% or so increase from 2010s record year, with 20 – 24 weeks of production ordered and in house. More machining centers, three shifts six days a week, and no end in sight. Savage has increased their skilled work force by 50% in the last year, something no presidential candidate can brag of. Savage seems to be on track to manufacture over 500,000 rifles this year, while many of their competitors are forced to just watch.

Rather than just make product, Savage (particularly in the last decade) has reached beyond with the fundamental priorities of safety, uniform quality, and a continual focus on accuracy. It runs from the world's greatest muzzleloader, the 10ML-II, the Savage factory rifles that are winning F-T/R Class championships by competing around the world. The Accu-Trigger, the Accu-Stock, and other Savage innovations have changed the firearms industry.

It all began with a 12 year old rebel named Ron, an upcoming pheasant hunt, and a Stevens poly-choked pawnshop pump. And, a long history of assembling a team of bright, motivated, perceptive people. American manufacturing and American success is a very long ways from extinct, with Savage Arms of Westfield, Massachusetts demonstrating that right now as good as any company.

©1999 - 2012 Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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