U.S. "Smith & Wesson seeks to regain its reputation"


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cuchulainn
March 5, 2003, 07:50 AM
http://newsobserver.com/business/story/2284912p-2149500c.html

Smith & Wesson seeks to regain its reputation

Big new handgun should please fans

The Associated Press


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Two years ago, Smith & Wesson's reputation for firepower was nearly blown away by an agreement with the federal government. Now, the company whose handguns set a standard for more than a century insists it can regain leadership of the firearms industry.

Its new chief executive officer says the introduction of nine new handgun models signals its determination to revive its business.

"The company has a rich history as an industry innovator, and we are heading down the same path," said Roy C. Cuny, who took over as president and CEO last month after the elevation of Robert Scott to chairman.

The new handguns include a .50 caliber version of the famed Magnum line that began in 1930s with the .357, designed as a gun for hunters, and that continued in the 1950s with the .44 Magnum.

"This gun will get people talking about Smith & Wesson again," Steve Comus, publications director of Safari Club International, said of the .50 caliber Magnum. He said several of his club's big game hunting enthusiasts have ordered the revolver, and said it could also find a market as backup protection for outdoorsmen in areas frequented by grizzlies and other big predators.

"They are not going to sell 100,000 of them, but they will sell several thousand to that particular universe," Comus said.

Founded by firearm pioneers Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, the 150-year-old company that is one of the nation's oldest and largest handgun makers has a storied history. Sharpshooter Annie Oakley, outlaw Jesse James and the U.S. Cavalry all fired Smith & Wessons. And its .38 caliber Police Special and .357 Magnum were carried by generations of police officers.

But it outraged many gun-rights supporters in 2000, when faced with sliding sales and a series of government lawsuits pushed by gun control advocates, it reached an agreement with the Clinton administration aimed at policing sales and promoting safety measures.

Many distributors and dealers refused to stock Smith & Wesson guns.

Company officials said the deal actually made little substantive change in the distribution and other policies of the company, which specializes in the medium to high end of the market and had been one of the first major gunmaker to begin selling its handguns with safety locks.

But "there is still some residual grumping around their deal with the Clinton administration in some gun circles," Comus said.

Smith & Wesson's campaign to regain its reputation began in May 2001, when British conglomerate Tomkins PLC, which had paid $113 million for the company, sold it for $15 million plus $30 million in assumed debts to Saf-T-Hammer, a tiny startup in Arizona that made trigger locks.

Scott, a former Smith & Wesson vice president who had moved to Saf-T-Hammer, took over the gun works. His first stop, two weeks after the sale, was the National Rifle Association's annual convention. With banners and buttons promoting the company's return to American ownership, he quickly moved to make peace with the NRA.

With President Bush's election, the political climate also changed, and handgun sales soared after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Saf-T-Hammer, which changed its name to the Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., has capitalized on the company's name by expanding its licensing to encompass products such as clothing, binoculars and golf clubs, sidelines that now account for 10 percent of its revenues. But the focus of its business remains guns.

While repairing its image, the company has also moved to modernize its production with new computerized equipment, said Cuny, whose background is manufacturing, not the gun industry.

But the company, with about 650 workers at its Springfield plant and 100 at a pistol and handcuff plant in Holton, Maine, faces some tough challenges, Cuny said.

Competitors, primarily Glock, have made inroads on the handgun market for law enforcement. And the market remains cyclical and uncertain.

© Copyright 2003, The News & Observer Publishing Company.

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natedog
March 5, 2003, 11:11 AM
Once a traitor, always a traitor.

Leatherneck
March 5, 2003, 11:15 AM
Two years ago, Smith & Wesson's reputation for firepower was nearly blown away by an agreement with the federal government. Its new chief executive officer says the introduction of nine new handgun models signals its determination to revive its business.
Let's see...I've got a flat tire, so I think I'll change the oil.

But it outraged many gun-rights supporters in 2000, when faced with sliding sales and a series of government lawsuits pushed by gun control advocates, it reached an agreement with the Clinton administration aimed at policing sales and promoting safety measures.

Yeah, you could say that.

But "there is still some residual grumping around their deal with the Clinton administration in some gun circles," Comus said.

Residual? You really think so?

With banners and buttons promoting the company's return to American ownership, he quickly moved to make peace with the NRA.

The NRA ain't me.

Bottom line: S&W hasn't done a single thing to address their transgression, nor to regain any loyalty from the shootin' crowd. And the longer the situation persists, the deeper the resentment gets. :fire:

TC
TFL Survivor

RobW
March 5, 2003, 11:25 AM
Most important is leatherneck's last sentence. What prevents S & W from saying: "we are the new owners, we don't know Clinton, the agreement of the former owners doesn't apply to us, it's dead!"

10-Ring
March 5, 2003, 11:52 AM
It's a long hard road in regaining trust. It's more than just words, but actions.

CZ-75
March 5, 2003, 11:55 AM
What prevents S & W from saying: "we are the new owners, we don't know Clinton, the agreement of the former owners doesn't apply to us, it's dead!"


Glock.


If they gave up their agreement, then most cities, generally liberal, would see it as a reason not to preferentially buy S&W firearms.

Revolvers, which S&W do well, are not issue weapons anymore and better semi-autos can be found.

Blackhawk
March 5, 2003, 12:00 PM
Leatherneck thoroughly nailed it in typical Marine fashion! :D

Mastrogiacomo
March 5, 2003, 12:15 PM
I'd still get a revolver from S&W but as far pistols or anything else, no. I'll stick with Beretta.:D

blowsomethingup
March 5, 2003, 12:57 PM
yawn.:uhoh:

Justin
March 5, 2003, 01:12 PM
Saf-T-Hammer, which changed its name to the Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., has capitalized on the company's name by expanding its licensing to encompass products such as clothing, binoculars and golf clubs, sidelines that now account for 10 percent of its revenues. I'm no lawyer, but I seem to recall that back over on TFL there were several threads along the line of 'we should buy S&W, and change the name which would thereby nullify the agreement because it applied to S&W, not (insert new name here.)

If the name of the company was changed to S&W Holding Corp. is that not a different name than the one that appears on the agreement?

Doesn't that invalidate the agreement?

Any lawyers out there who'd care to answer my question?:confused:

Boats
March 5, 2003, 06:33 PM
I am an attorney, but not in the corporate biz world. However, it would appear to me that what S&W signed was akin to a contract with the government and if the government's attorneys were not asleep at their desks, they'd have drafted the agreement to cover any and all of S&W's successors and assigns to prevent the morphing of S&W into something else to "escape" its obligations.

Since the deal is likely to be construed as a contract of sorts, with "valuable consideration" given by each side, maybe S&W should try to brazenly breach it or perhaps take the government to court over non-performance issues as I haven't heard of any large fedgov S&W weapons contracts of late and the gov did seem to promise bid favoritism did it not?

Just pretending the agreement doesn't exist will not work for S&W as a strategy against a less friendly administration in D.C.:rolleyes:

Gordon
March 5, 2003, 09:01 PM
I don't care about "the agreement" their quality control and manufacturing techniques suck in the last few years. To avoid getting a lemon you have to get one thru performance center, otherwise its a crap shoot. And electrochemical etched barrel rifling insures quickly shooting like crap.:barf:

Standing Wolf
March 5, 2003, 09:08 PM
I don't do business with companies that seek to subvert the Second Amendment.

beckrodgers
March 5, 2003, 09:35 PM
Hey folks I aint defending s&w ,in fact I posted thier agreement with the govt on the sticky board at work along with the proposals of hci back in 94 . Its almost word for word. My point is Where do any of us spend our money. I told this on another post but its something like this. I took time warner cable vision out of my house when I realized what I was paying for,left wing socialist ,commie, anti firearms ; anti self reliant,almost evil programing&we are paying them to brain wash us ,like a vicious cycle,so I had cable taken out. A very few sprinkling of decent tv ,but the most is awful.I even got on the Ken Hamblin radio show saying this,if the stuff is controlled by the bad guys do something pro active about it. Hey I miss it almost as much as smoking but am determined to do what I can on a personel level to hit them hard where it hurts, the bank or pocket book. As far as the media being contrlled by the left,my question is why dont some dedicated conservative trillionaire start up 2 or 3 cons. networks & really let freedom ring. Just what we pay for tv on a national level has got to be billions per month.My god it boggles my mind we are our own enemy I believe. Thanks

Blackhawk
March 5, 2003, 10:30 PM
If the name of the company was changed to S&W Holding Corp. is that not a different name than the one that appears on the agreement?

Doesn't that invalidate the agreement?
No. S&W Holding bought the assets of the old company and assumed the liabilities. The agreement is a contingent liability. It survived the transfers.

twoblink
March 5, 2003, 10:40 PM
Dear Gun Owners;

We have realized that we screwed the pooch with the Klinton agreement, and we are sorry. Today, we officially declare that agreement dead, and we shall not honor it as it is Unconstitutional.

We will do whatever it takes to regain the trust of the gun owners, beginning with our firm and confirmed support of the 2nd Amendment.

You guys are our bloodline, and we were stupid to abandon you. We realize now, and it will never happen again as we see the power you wield with your wallets.

Yours.
S&W.

Blackhawk
March 5, 2003, 10:48 PM
You're absolutely right, twoblink.

Until S&W does that, it's shunned.

ahadams
March 5, 2003, 11:07 PM
AFAIK those who said that the agreement with the govt is an assumed liability are essentially correct. They are, however, ignoring something else that happened about 5 or 6 months into the current Bush administration. At that point in time the Bush Administration stated (publicly, but not terribly loudly) that they did not see the agreement as enforcible and were not interested in enforcing it. I do not know the technical terminology for this, but what they've effectively done is to give the new S&W an out which does not require them to spend one more dollar on legal fees in this regard. Even should (God forbid) President Bush not get re-elected, by the time whoever comes after him gets into office the government will have allowed the agreement to lapse due to the fault of the government, which means S&W gets off scott free as long as they keep their mouths shut.

Do you get it NOW?:rolleyes:

waterdog
March 5, 2003, 11:46 PM
I truly believe that if they were to openly rescind the agrement, and then submit legal documents to record it.

They could possibly sell a million handguns in one day.

waterdog

citizen
March 6, 2003, 06:32 AM
I vaguely remember that assertion, ahadams; and ruminated along those very same lines. Thought there had to be something to it; yet never really saw any followup of relevance. I do believe there to be some sort of exit loophole technically; and their reluctance to address it lends credibility to it's existence. A
"wormhole" created by ignoring it. I think. But then again, MY UNDERSTANDING of law is as concrete as a wormhole.....:rolleyes:

mete
March 6, 2003, 06:54 AM
S&W problems began in the late 70s and that was one of non existant quality control. That lead to sale of the company and that lead to the deal with Clinton. Notice that the company's statement made no mention of quality control. S&W was onc e the finest handgun maker in the world but today they don't understand that marketing poor quality just doesn't work.

Silver Bullet
March 6, 2003, 10:58 AM
ahadams
Do you get it NOW ?

I get it, but NOW is uncalled for because I haven't seen this point made before.

This is a point of legal precedence (I guess), and I would expect that knowing this would require specific experience or training in the legal field, federal policy, or some such.

What are your qualifications or credentials ? Are you a lawyer ? Can you back up your statements with specific laws or applicable precedents ?

I'm not saying you're wrong, because I don't know, but how do you know this to be true ? You've made a very interesting claim (and I hope you're right!) and I just want to qualify it by understanding where it comes from: do you have experience in the legal field, or is your background that of watching fifty episodes of Perry Mason ?

Just asking.

blades67
March 6, 2003, 05:01 PM
Company officials said the deal actually made little substantive change in the distribution and other policies of the company

While that may, or may not, be true, it was the large substantive changes in the distribution and other polices of other companies and small businesses that really put a knot in most folks' butt fur.:barf: :fire:

ahadams
March 6, 2003, 11:17 PM
Yo! Silver Bullet - I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on Television. (actually my younger brother is a lawyer, but right now he's been recalled to be part of the USMC [he translates that as 'Uncle Sam's Misguided Children'] contribution to the ongoing festivities, and therefore I can't get a comment from him either.)

I spent 1991-99 living inside the DC beltway and from time to time doing volunteer work for various *ahem* politically conservative causes *ahem* as it were. One of the noticable differences between the days of billy jeff and the days of Dubya is that the current administration does not ever say anything in a public place that is ever 'off the cuff'. When they released the item about the S&W agreement a little asking around came up with the fact that if an agreement remains unenforced for an extended period of time it effectively lapses - the govt's disinterest is indicated by their lack of enforcement, making any future enforcement very difficult if not impossible. Somehow this doesn't strike me as the sort of thing that President Bush would do by accident. And no I can't cite a specific portion of federal law on this one, you're going to have to find an experienced federal attorney to do that, because like I said, mine's currently unavailable.

anyway, sorry if I offended you! It's just that I sometimes get frustrated with people who don't understand that a *lot* of what happens in DC not only doesn't happen in the House or Senate, but is almost completely ignored by the liberal media - *they* only report what they want people to believe. FNC and a few others are better, but even they only cover high profile stuff most of the time - well that's what sells product, right?

The problem is that a lot of the stuff the conspiracy buffs think is conspiracy is, well, the only conspiracy is the liberal media conspiring to keep people in the dark. My wife and I have been gone from there going on four years now, so we're hardly 'wired in' to the current situation, but you've got to pay attention to the little stuff - including press releases and so forth and piece it together that way. Look at the pieces of the puzzle. You can't seen them all, but the outline of what's going on is clear if you get enough of the small pieces around the edge and a few of the bigger ones toward the center.

argh! now I'm ranting! sorry, I guess I better quit here

andy
March 7, 2003, 12:35 AM
Heres a question for you guys: If S&W anounced that that they were going to renege on the agreement, what could the government do to them in terms of penalties? :uhoh:

craigz
March 7, 2003, 02:56 AM
Did one gun store ever comply with the agreement? Did one gun store stop selling hicap magazines or assault rifles because they stocked S&W products? Did one gun store start storing all their guns in safes overnight? Did one gun store implement the additional training that the agreement called for? I can't believe you guys are still crabbing about this two years later.

AR-10
March 7, 2003, 08:06 AM
None of those questions are relevant, craigz.

The issue is this; Smith and Wesson's "New, American Owwners" bought the company after carefull consideration of the agreement, what it is, what it means, what it can do. They could have purchased the company in such a way as to be shed of it. They chose to buy the company intact, agreement and all.

Since that time they have been carefully ignoring it. The strategy they employ to deal with it is to release misleading public statements and spend huge sums on advertising to woo back disgusted customers. They seem to feel that if it is ignored long enough it will go away. That may be the case in the long run, or it may not. I find that course of action repugnant and insulting. It speaks volumes of what they think of the intellect and moral fibre of their client base, and not kindly.

At the core of the disgust with the agreement lies fear of what sort of precedent it sets for the rest of industry. How much government control is acceptable when one looks at free enterprise in theses United States? The agreement is crafted in such a way as to completely change the gun industry and the availability of firearms in a negative manner. It will not be a minor inconvenience for us if some future administration subverts the law and forces Smith and Wesson to implement it. Given Smith and Wesson's current attitude, I highly doubt they would "go down fighting" such an action. They would capitulate, and the destruction of our rights would escalate.

Silver Bullet
March 7, 2003, 02:42 PM
ahadams

Thanks for replying. It seems to me that what you are proposing is a bombshell for the ongoing boycott debate. It doesn't say the boycott was wrong , but suggests that now or in the near future the boycott becomes unnecessary. What we need are experts (and from what you've said your expertise greatly exceeds mine on this legal point; I guess I'm the one who watched Perry Mason :) ) who can chime in on this to answer questions like 1) how certain is this scenario, and 2) how long must the government refrain from enforcing the Agreement before it becomes void.

A common refrain on these debates is "the agreement is dormant, not dead", and your argument suggests that refrain will become untrue. My question for people well versed in this, is "When ?"

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