The list of gun manufacturers that are establishing a business presence in states that have a history of being pro-gun is growing: Weatherby Inc. is the latest to pull up stakes in California, at least to a degree, and head to more favorable climes, politically. The company picked Sheridan, Wyo., as its new home.
“We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle,” Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer of the company, said from the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. “We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; We are growing.”
The move is wise on several fronts, not just in terms of the state’s attitude toward firearms. First, Wyoming offers some of the best locations for big-game hunting in the country. Second, the corporate tax structure is more business-friendly. Third, a nearby college in Sheridan offers a workforce training program that encompasses machine tooling, one of the key trades for a gun maker.
The plant will employ 70 to 90 people, with a combined payroll of more than $5 million, within the next five years. The company will be constructing a new plant, thanks in part to a $12.5 economic development grant.
Wyoming officials started courting Weatherby about a year ago, Gov. Matt Mead said in published reports. “Wyoming is a great place to do business and is excited to welcome Weatherby to Sheridan,” he said.
Weatherby said the governor’s responsiveness during the search process was a major selling point. “From the get go, when we met the governor, he said, ‘Here’s my number, shoot me a text any time,’” Weatherby said. “He responds to our needs quickly, and it shows a business like ours is important to Wyoming and that it’s a big deal here.”
In the past few years, several firearm businesses have decided to call Wyoming home. One of the more publicized relocations involved MagPul Industries, which moved after Colorado politicians started enacting more restrictions on firearms, including magazine capacity limitations. Elsewhere across the nation, gun companies with roots in the Northeast have been heading south.
Weatherby was founded in 1945 and in currently based in Paso Robles, Calif.