Three Manufacturers Bring New Business to Fort Smith

Fort Smith welcomed the news of three economic announcements Monday morning: Pradco-Fishing will build a $21 million facility at Fort Chaffee; QualServ Corp will move its corporate headquarters to Fort Smith; and Umarex USA will expand its operations at Fort Smith by moving to a new 65,000-SF facility, also at Fort Chaffee.


Pradco-Fishing, a manufacturer of fishing lures, announced plans Monday to build a $21 million, 300,000-SF manufacturing facility at Fort Chaffee.

Pradco has been in Fort Smith since 1962 and currently occupies three buildings that total 120,000 SF. The move to the new Fort Chaffee location will give Pradco the potential for expansion. The company currently employs 150 people at Fort Smith.

Pradco makes such popular brand-name fishing lures such as Rebel, Heddon, Yum, Bomber and Booyah.

"Pradco and its fishing lures have found a great fit in Fort Smith and the Natural State for 46 years," Gov. Mike Beebe said in a news release. "We appreciate their continued investment in Arkansas, especially as we work with businesses to redevelop this area of Fort Chaffee."

Pradco is a subsidiary of ESBCO, which is ranked in the top 200 of the nation's largest privately held corporations.

"We are a leader in the fishing industry worldwide, and we are pleased that the innovation and leadership will continue to be located in Fort Smith, Arkansas," said Bruce Stanton, vice president and general manager of Pradco-Fishing. "This is our home, and we definitely have been made feel extremely welcome by our local and state leaders."

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Umarex USA

Umarex USA, the fourth largest airgun manufacturer in the world, announced plans Monday to expand its operations at Fort Smith by moving to a new 65,000-SF facility at Fort Chaffee.

The company, which currently employs 22 people in a 30,000-SF facility, will move all of its operations to the new plant on 30 acres at Fort Chaffee.

Umarex has plans to have a total work force between 60 to 120 people within three years.

Employees at Umarex's Fort Smith facility handle product refurbishment, warranty work, airgun enhancement and technical advice.

Umarex's new plant will have a state-of-the-art distribution center, production and quality testing and a shooting range.

"Fort Smith is a terrific location for us, offering our companies a central location, a skilled workforce and people with strong values," said Adam Blalock, president and CEO of Umarex USA.

Umarex USA is owned by Umarex Corporate Group, which also owns firearms leader Walther Co. in Germany.

Umarex USA's products are marketed under the following brand names: RWS, Walther, Hämmerli, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Heckler & Koch, Ruger, Desert Eagle, RAM and Colt.

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QualServ Corp., a maker of custom cabinetry for restaurants and retail outlets, announced plans Monday to move its corporate headquarters to Fort Smith from the Kansas City metro area.

Moving the corporate headquarters to Fort Smith will result in 40 new jobs. Also 75 manufacturing jobs will be added at its Fort Smith manufacturing facility at an average hourly wage of $17.75.

With the addition of the new employees, QualServ will employ more than 400 people at Fort Smith.

In addition to its Fort Smith plant, the company also has manufacturing plants at Kansas City, Mo., and Columbia, S.C.

QualServ has been in Fort Smith since 1979, serving customers such as Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe's. The plant currently makes stainless steel and wood laminate products, as well as additional equipment for the hospitality industry.

"This is a prime example of how a strong manufacturing workforce can bring additional jobs and expansion to a community," Gov. Beebe said in a news release.

"We are very pleased the Fort Smith Arkansas division of QualServ has been selected as the site of our corporate headquarters," said Jerry Frederiksen, vice president and general manager of QualServ Fort Smith.

Additional information can be found at