Employment at the Remington ammunition factory in Lonoke has more than doubled to about 1,100 since Vista Outdoor Inc. of Anoka, Minnesota, bought most of the business for $81.4 million one year ago.
Vista is also hoping to add another 100 people there soon, company executives revealed late Friday afternoon, after taking Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston on a tour of the facility that has 1 million SF under roof and sits on a 1,200-acre property.
When the publicly traded Vista bought most of Remington’s assets, Remington was coming out of its second bankruptcy in two years. At the time, there were 400-450 employees, and the operation was “pretty much mothball,” Vista CEO Chris Metz said on Friday.
So Vista conducted 42,000 hours of training to get its workforce “quickly ramped up," he said.
Metz said the Lonoke plant is now one of the three largest ammo manufacturing facilities in the world. Many different kinds of ammo, and nothing else, are made there.
Vista is staffing up a third shift now, and four shifts would put it at full capacity, Marketing Director Joel Hodgdon told Arkansas Business.
Jobs were and are being added to meet increased demand coming from the 12 million new gun owners the industry has seen in the past 18 months, he said. “We can’t keep our product on the shelf,” Hodgdon said.
Meanwhile, the governor called Vista “a perfect fit for Arkansas” and said he’s confident about its future in the state.
Hutchinson, pointing at a map showing the company’s facilities in Arkansas, said, “We want those dots to grow in Arkansas. And we know that there's gonna be great opportunities there, but we're delighted for this occasion to celebrate your investment, the modernization of the plan and your support for the shooting sports in Arkansas that is so vital to our state."
Vista has already invested further here. Metz touted its recently opened distribution center in Bryant, which will support the company's Camp Chef and QuietKat brands.
Hutchinson also said the outdoor sports and recreation industry is responsible for 96,000 direct jobs in Arkansas, generating $9.7 billion annually in consumer spending and $698 million in tax revenue.
After the tour, the governor and others participated in a product demonstration at the Remington Gun Club, an on-site trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting range.
Vista Outdoor has 37 outdoor brands spread across 16 states and international locations.