Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced on Monday that Remington Outdoor Company (ROC), previously known as the Freedom Group, will be expanding to his state. According to WAFF, the firearm manufacturing group is expected to take over a vacant facility once used by Chrysler in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I am honored to welcome Remington to Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “The Alabama workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Alabama extremely attractive to companies. Remington will soon experience the same type of success that other companies in Alabama have already experienced.”
ROC CEO George Kollitides joined Governor Bentley and other local leaders in the announcement today, which is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs and a statewide investment of $110 million. Kollitides cited high demand and record sales as the reason for the expansion.
“This additional capacity is essential to fulfill demand and introduce new products,” Kollitides said. “Having watched our company grow from 2,400 employees in 2008 to 4,200 employees by the end of 2013, a five year, 75 percent increase, it is easy to see why we’re investing now.”
Fueled by a significant increase in demand in late 2012 and throughout 2013, Kollitides claims that demand for ROC products is at a “historic” high and that the company is taking advantage of the opportunity to push into new territory. ROC currently has 16 locations in the United States, with its largest production facility situated in Ilion, New York. When the New York legislature passed a strict set of gun control laws known as the New York SAFE Act, many gun makers decided to look elsewhere for expansion opportunities. Manufacturers such as PTR Industries, Stag Arms, and Magpul decided to relocate when their own states adopted new gun control measures, and when Remington announced that it was in the hunt for a new plant location, New York was not high on the list. Twenty-four states courted ROC, and Huntsville, Alabama managed to make the most convincing argument.
“We’ve always been known for engineering and research and development,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We have a huge advanced manufacturing base that’s really just not recognized, not touted a lot. This gives us a chance to start talking about our advanced manufacturing base and also, it addresses the need for jobs for those who want to go into the technical career fields.”
ROC leaders also added that the state’s pro-Second Amendment stance was a major influence.
Al.com reported that at full employment, the new ROC facility will be the third-largest employer in Madison County. The impact is also likely to reach beyond just Huntsville. Economists say that the arrival of ROC in the area will benefit many other sectors such as construction, home building, consumer goods, and even schools. Economist Dr. Tom Pieplow told WAFF that the overall job estimate could be higher than 6,000.
New York politicians were quick to clarify that the expansion will not affect the Ilion plant nor the workers there. No changes have been announced for the Ilion facility, which produces the bulk of Remington’s products. Ilion also holds historic significance for the company. The town sits close to the forge where Eliphalet Remington II made his first firearm, and Remington Arms, the ROC’s namesake, has been making guns there for over 200 years.
ROC expects the new Alabama plant to be operational within 18 months.
Image by Matt Korovesis