Walther Arms Inc. said Thursday that its US operations will locate to Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith, sharing a campus and business resources with Umarex USA, which will expand its manufacturing operations to include components of both airguns and firearms.
Gov. Mike Beebe and Arkansas economic development officials made the announcement on Thursday at Umarex USA's plant at Chaffee Crossing.
Umarex USA makes sporting and replica air guns. Its line of products includes paintball guns, pellet guns, air pistols and accessories. Umarex USA is owned by PW Group of Germany, which also owns firearms leader Walther Co. in Germany. Walther is 126 years old and makes firearms from .22-caliber to .40-caliber.
Together, the companies plan to invest more than $7 million toward expanding the facility and operations over the next five years. The facility will be Walther's and Umarex's corporate headquarters in North America.
With the expansion, the companies say they hope to create 70 to 120 new jobs over the next five years.
"We are absolutely fired up to see Fort Smith become the home for the iconic Walther brand and company," Adam Blalock, CEO of Walther Arms and Umarex USA, said. "My personal hope and objective is to see more manufacturing and jobs return to the USA in the coming years, and what better place than Fort Smith!"
Umarex moved into its 117,000-SF facility in Chaffee Crossing in July 2010. The facility is home to the company's warehousing and distribution operations as well as its corporate offices.
"Fort Smith's excellent workforce helped convince Umarex and Walther to increase production here, and their overall Arkansas experience led to make our state their North American Headquarters," Gov. Mike Beebe said in a news release. "Success stories like this will help to influence other companies deciding where to invest for success."
When Umarex announced plans in 2008 to move to Chaffee Crossing, it said it planned to have a total work force between 60 to 120 people within three years.
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.
Chaffee Crossing is a 7,000-acre mixed-use development at Fort Chaffee. It includes commercial, retail, residential and recreational areas in addition to industrial space.
The full announcement from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission:
FORT SMITH, Arkansas (November 29, 2012) - Walther Arms, Inc. today announced its U.S. operations will locate at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Walther Arms will share a campus and business resources with Umarex USA who today announced it will expand its manufacturing operations to include components of both airguns and firearms. Combined, the companies plan to invest more than $7 million toward expanding the facility and operations over the next five years. The expanding facility will serve as corporate headquarters for both Walther and Umarex in North America. With the expansion, management hopes to create from 70 to 120 new jobs over the next five years.
"Jobs, opportunity, Fort Smith, Arkansas…" stated Adam Blalock, chief executive officer of Walther Arms and Umarex USA, "…We are absolutely fired up to see Fort Smith become the home for the iconic Walther brand and company. My personal hope and objective is to see more manufacturing and jobs return to the USA in the coming years and what better place than Fort Smith!"
Umarex USA first leased space in Fort Smith in 2006. Plans to build a new facility at Chaffee Crossing were announced in 2008 while the airgun company entered the firearms market for the first time when it began to import the Colt M4 chambered in .22 caliber. All Fort Smith operations were located in the Chaffee facility by July 2010. Since moving into the Chaffee facility, Umarex USA's sales volume has doubled. In July of this year, Carl Walther GmbH announced the formation of Walther Arms, Inc. and the appointment of Adam Blalock as chief executive officer. While the decision on Walther's location in the United States had not been determined at the time of the announcement, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber, Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and Governor Mike Beebe's office worked to secure Walther's business for Arkansas.
"Fort Smith's excellent workforce helped convince Umarex and Walther to increase production here, and their overall Arkansas experience led to make our state their North American Headquarters," Governor Mike Beebe said. "Success stories like this will help to influence other companies deciding where to invest for success."
Through the expansion, the German-based business, PW Group, owners of both Walther Arms and Umarex USA will relocate certain products currently manufactured abroad for manufacture in Fort Smith under the Walther Arms Company.
"Umarex and Walther Arms is one of Fort Smith's great success stories," said Tim Allen, Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer. "Just a few years ago, we were all celebrating Umarex's groundbreaking at Chaffee Crossing, and now today the company has chosen Fort Smith as its corporate headquarters for North America."
"Umarex's decision to increase its manufacturing operation in Fort Smith is a testament to the talented workforce in this region and we are honored to have such a great corporate citizen like Umarex and Walther Arms in our community," said Mayor Sandy Sanders.
"Umarex USA has been a fantastic corporate citizen at Chaffee Crossing," said Ivy Owen, chief executive officer of Chaffee Crossing. "Their decision to expand with Walther Arms exemplifies their faith in Chaffee, Fort Smith and the region."
Entering its 126th year, Walther has earned the trust of law enforcement professionals, recreational shooters, and athletes through its line of reliable PPQ, PPS and PPK pistols. Walther Arms manufactures and markets firearms of calibers ranging from .22 to .40. For more information, visit www.WaltherArms.com.
Umarex has been an expert in airguns for almost 40 years. The company manufactures and markets airguns, paintball products, airsoft guns and blank-firing pistols. Umarex USA's shooting sports products are marketed under world-known firearm brand names at sporting goods retailers throughout North America. For more information, visit www.UmarexUSA.com.