By Staff 1.24.18
Firearms manufacturer Weatherby, Inc., is relocating its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, Wyoming, company officials announced from SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the world’s largest annual shooting, hunting and firearms industry trade show.
The move is expected to create 70 to 90 jobs and more than $5 million annually in payroll in the next five years.
Outdoor recreation is an economic driver in Wyoming, and manufacturing plays a vital role in any economy, according to Shawn Reese, chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council.
“So, to bring those two things together – an internationally-known manufacturer of outdoor equipment headquartered in Wyoming – it will pay dividends, not only to Sheridan and northeast Wyoming, but this is a project of which the entire state should be proud,” Reese said.
Wyoming wooed the renowned gunmaker with its expansive access to unrivaled big game hunting, low taxes, industry-friendly environment, Sheridan College’s workforce training program and a comprehensive incentives package.
“We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle,” said Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer. “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.”
Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency, began recruiting Weatherby a year ago.
“Wyoming is a great place to do business and is excited to welcome Weatherby to Sheridan,” Mead said. “For over 70 years, Weatherby has been an innovator in firearms design and manufacturing. The company will add to our manufacturing base and fit well with our diversification objectives.
“I thank the Wyoming Business Council, the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority, and all who helped bring Weatherby, Inc. to Wyoming.”
Weatherby called Mead’s enthusiastic support and accessibility a major asset for a company operating in a highly-regulated industry.
“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.”
Business Council staff took Weatherby officials on tours of potential sites for their facility around the state following the initial conversations.
Sheridan stood out to Weatherby executives because of its access to both the outdoors and a skilled workforce.
“There are a lot of great places in Wyoming, but Sheridan stood out as a New West community that’s progressive and growing, with a vibrant downtown in the shadow of the Bighorns and a mild climate,” Weatherby said. “Sheridan College, which is growing its manufacturing and machine tool program, was also a deciding factor.”
Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young called Weatherby’s recruitment an example of the work it will take to diversify Wyoming’s economy.
“This is the direct result of years and years of visioning, planning and strategically investing in the things that matter for the future of our region,” Young said. “With the help of Whitney Benefits and others, we have been strengthening and growing our technical programs for this very reason, and we will continue to provide opportunities for students to learn valuable skills to secure a solid future.”
The Business Council worked with the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority (SEEDA) Joint Powers board to develop a $12.6 million grant package. SEEDA committed $2,283,074 in local match funds, of which $322,874 is cash. The other $1,960,200 is in-kind match for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. The joint powers board will use the money to build a 100,000 square-foot building in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. SEEDA will own the facility and lease it to Weatherby.
Weatherby will invest an estimated $2 million in relocation expenses and cover all capital investment in the building and lot over the life of the 20-year lease, which is expected to be well over $4 million.
“We’re extremely excited to have this internationally recognized company choose Sheridan as their new corporate headquarters,” Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller said. “This relocation will translate to more skilled manufacturing jobs, an increased tax base and important economic diversification for our community and the region.”
Founded in 1945 by Adam Weatherby’s grandfather, Roy Weatherby, the family-owned and operated business has built a brand synonymous with quality craftmanship, a superior fit and finish and ballistic superiority.
The importance of family underlies much of Weatherby’s ethos.
“Our product is the main tool hunters use out in field. They may spend a lifetime trying to draw a tag or save for the hunt of their dreams, and we keep that foremost in our minds when we are building our guns,” Weatherby said. “This is an aspiration product; these are guns that are passed down from generation to generation.”