It’s probably the biggest news to come out of this year’s SHOT Show so far. Weatherby, long a California-based company, is moving its headquarters to Sheridan, Wyoming. The announcement was made last night at the company’s booth, with everyone from the NRA’s Chris Cox to the Equality State’s governor in attendance.
Ed Weatherby, former president and CEO of Weatherby, kicked off the event with a bit of context for the company’s move.
“Back in the late ’30s, before my father started the company, he lived in Kansas, and he absolutely hated the weather in Kansas, and he wanted to get out of there,” Ed said. “So he kept going west and ended up in California. And he found some really beautiful weather in California. And almost seventy-five years later, the weather’s still beautiful in California. But along the way, in seventy-five years, a few other things have changed, and its gotten to the point that we needed to make a change.”
“About three years ago, after being in California for seventy years, it was our seventieth anniversary,” Adam Weatherby said as he took the mic. “We began a search amongst a number of western states to find a new home for Weatherby.
“I’m honored to be able to carry on a family legacy, but part of a legacy is it means you’ve got to leave a legacy for the generation to follow, and it was obvious, being in the state we were in, that that legacy wasn’t going to be able to continue for as long as we wanted it to, due to a number of reasons.”
Weatherby considered a number of states, but in 2017 the company met with Wyoming’s governor, Matt Mead, and the Wyoming Business Council in a conference room at that year’s SHOT Show. Governor Mead even reportedly gave Adam his personal cell number to use.
“I knew at that moment they were serious,” Adam said. “Sure, they have the friendliest tax climate in the U.S., they have the most guns per capita . . . They have endless access to the outdoors, a number of mountain ranges there in Wyoming. Some great tags for hunting, mind you. An incredible workforce, University of Wyoming, and a number of things to offer.”
But moving a company, any company, is a major undertaking, much less a gun company with decades spent in a given location. Adam said the company asked Wyoming for help with the move, which Governor Mead agreed to. Last Thursday, the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board voted unanimously on an incentives package to bring the company there—“an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Adam said.
“This has been a dream of ours for a long time and something that we’re very, very excited about,” Adam said. “It’s going to be a huge change for us, but I think this is good for us, I think it’s good for our industry, I think it’s good, hopefully, for the state of Wyoming.”
Weatherby will leave its current abode in Paso Robles, California, and move nearly 1,400 miles northeast to Sheridan, located near the Wyoming/Montana state line. Architects are already at work on the new headquarters, which will be up and running in 2019.
“We are going to be able to grow, expand, come out with products that are otherwise impossible for us to come out with in the state that we’ve been in for a long time,” Adam said. “We’re looking to employ a great workforce there in Wyoming and are really excited about that and the opportunities that that’s going to bring. And truly I believe as we’re looking forward into the next generation, my generation and beyond, I believe that the state of Wyoming is going to be the place where we’re going to grow and thrive and flourish.”
Governor Mead said having Weatherby relocate to his state not only made sense on an economic level, combining with other gun and gun-accessory manufacturers already located there, but also on a conservation level, as Weatherby is a proud proponent of the outdoors. He also called the move “a match made in heaven.”
“We want to be, in Wyoming, as I said in my State of the State address last year, not just a firearms state. We want to be the firearms state,” Governor Mead said. “And I cannot think of a better way to make that known to the country and to the world [than] by having this wonderful, wonderful company, Weatherby.”
“What the Weatherby family’s doing is something uniquely American,” the NRA-ILA’s Executive Director Chris Cox said. “It’s something in our DNA. And what they’re doing is chasing freedom. We’ve been doing that as Americans for almost 250 years—chasing economic freedom, chasing individual freedom. And what they were forced to do on one level is sad; on one level it’s a great celebration for a great state that still recognizes what Franklin Delano Roosevelt called ‘the great arsenal of our democracy.’”
“It’s tremendous to have a governor who cares about jobs and economic opportunity and the Second Amendment,” said Larry Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president. “And when you can wed them together, it’s a win for everybody.”