I was surfing around and dropped by Youtube to see what new videos would pop up and there was a four day old video that was a tour of the Remington Ammunition plant. Okay, the tour of an ammo plant always catches my eye but it got me to thinking also. I knew that Remington declared bankruptcy in July 2020 and was bought by Vista Outdoor. I also knew Vista Outdoor owned a number of brands including Federal but what dawned on me was that I really didn’t know much about Vista. Well, when I have a gap like that, I do some digging and a blog post emerges.
First, here’s the cool plant tour video that kicked this all off:
What happened to Remington in the first place?
Well, rather than start with their founding in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington, let’s jump ahead to 2007. Remington was an iconic firm by that time and due to a string of circumstances including declining sales and reputational damage, they were acquired by Cerebus Capital Management. Remington was already millions of dollars in debt but went ahead and bought Marlin Firearms and Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) – the suppressor company.
Now if you look back on it, a lot of innovation had ceased and they were milking existing product designs. They were involved in litigation, still not making money and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020. As a result, their assets went up for sale. Remington outdoor was split up and sold off piecemeal.
Remington Arms and non-Marlin firearms were sold off to the Roundhill Group. Remington’s ammunition business was sold to Vista Outdoor. I did some quick reading and don’t know much about Roundhill but really the focus of today’s post is Vista so let’s go there.
Vista Outdoors Started As ATK Sporting Products
Well, if we wind back the clock to 1990, a defense company called Alliant Techsystems (ATK) was spun out from Honeywell. ATK had supplied products to the defense industry for close to 50 years at that point.
In 2001 they bought Hercules Aerospace who also made Hercules brand gun power. and decided to enter the ammunition business and bought Blount Industries. The move made them the largest ammunition maker in the United States.
Bear in mind ATK was a big firm and making launch systems also – we are not talking about a small organization, Also in 2001 they acquired Thiokol who made the solid rocket boosters for NASA’s space shuttle program. I’m not going to detail the defense group but they were making missles, the Bushmaster cannon and more.
In 2012 the Army selected ATK to operate the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) that Remington built in 1941. Renovations were made and quality was improved.
To give you an idea of how big the Sporting Group was – here is a list of the brands they were producing: Allant Powder, Blackhawk, Bolle Bushnell, CCI, Cebe, Champion Targets, Federal Premium Ammunition, Final Approach, Gold Tip Arrows, Hoppes, Outers, Primos, RCBS, Savage Arms, Serengeti, Speer, Uncle Mike’s, and Weaver Optics. That’s quite a spectrum – everything from ammo to sunglasses.
In 2014 ATK decided to split into two companies. Aerospace and defense groups would be merged into Orbital Sciences Corporation. The sporting products group was split off to create Vista Outdoor. The creatiion of the two was completed on February 20, 2015.
Wikipedia has a decent write up of ATK’s history if you want to read more.
Vista was a public company from the start and subject to the pressures of the market to make money, deal with debt, promote and protect the brands it held, etc.
In 2018 they sold off the eyewear brands of Bolle, Cebe and Serengeti.
In 2019 they sold off Savage and Stevens Arms to a group of investors led by the Savage management team.
In 2020 they bought the Remington ammunition and accessory assets. This included the ammunition plant in Lonoke, AR, for $81 million.
How big is Vista Outdoor (stock symbol VSTO)? Well, in terms of sales, they are at $3.04 billion USD in 2022, up 36.08% from the previous year. Net income is positive at $473,23 million up 77.9% from 2021.
Vista does plan on splitting the company into two parts – Outdoor Products and Sporting Products, both of which will be publicly traded.
Outdoor products will include the brands: Bell, Bushnell, Bushnell Golf, CamelBak, Camp Chef, Foresight Sports, Giro, Hoppes, QuietKat, Stone Glacier and others – they have a ton actually so click here for the
Sporting products will include the ammunition brands: CCI, Estate Cartrdige, Federal, Hevi-Shot, Remington, and Speer
As a quick side comment – I didn’t realize how many sporting optics brands that Vista owned until researching this post: Bushnell, Redfield, Simmons, Tasco and Weaver.
In terms of what is new, the company’s CEO, Chris Metz was asked to resign by the board on February 1, 2023, due to a loss of confidence in his leadership. They say the parting was in good terms but regardless of how you look at it, they fired him and there aren’t public details. The firm’s CFO left back in November 2022 so there is some movement going on.
Gary McArthur, a board member, has been appointed interim CEO in the meantime until a permanent CEO is found.
So, that’s Vista Outdoor in a nutshell. Another big holding company with a ton of brands. They invested in bringing the Remington ammunition factory in Lonoke, AR, back up to speed and it is producing now. That’s good.
What will happen with the planned splitting up of the company and long-term plans, it is hard to say. When you look at the the stock price over the past year, it has fallen but it didn’t plummet with Metz’s departure so time will tell. Hopefully good things will continue to happen.
[Note: All images were sourced from a media kit downloaded from the Vista Outdoor website. They own the photos.]
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