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Colorado arms company Magpul relocating to Wyoming, Texas
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Colorado arms company Magpul relocating to Wyoming, Texas

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Colorado-based firearms accessory manufacturer Magpul Industries announced Thursday it is moving operations to Wyoming and Texas.

Manufacturing, distribution and shipping will be in Cheyenne, and could provide the area dozens of jobs with benefits. The headquarters will be in Texas, according to a statement from the company. The moves will happen in the next 12 to 16 months.

The company was the first in the Colorado firearms industry to announce it was leaving the Centennial State. In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill that the company described as dramatically limiting the sale of firearms accessories, the core of Magpul’s business. Colorado lawmakers had said they were responding to the July 2012 mass shooting at the Aurora movie theater.

“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” said Richard Fitzpatrick, Magpul’s CEO, in a statement sent to the media Thursday morning. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”

In Wyoming, the company is working with Gov. Matt Mead, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS, an organization that promotes economic growth in Cheyenne and Laramie County.

“The state is looking to expand and diversify its economy,” Mead said in a statement. “Bringing an innovative and growing manufacturing operation to Wyoming is a significant step for the state. We offer Magpul an attractive tax environment, stable and reasonable regulations, not to mention a firm commitment to uphold the Second Amendment.”

Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen said the company’s move to Wyoming is significant because it is a large manufacturer and an industry leader. Magpul could draw more manufacturers to Wyoming, he said.

“I liken it to sort of the visibility we got when we brought NCAR to the state for the data industry,” he said, referring to the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s supercomputer in Cheyenne. “This will raise our visibility for the shooting, hunting and outdoor technology industry, as well.”

The company is applying for $13 million in state loans and grants, Jensen said. It will lease a 58,000 square-foot facility for manufacturing and distribution for two or three years while constructing a 100,000 square-foot facility in the Cheyenne Business Parkway, Jensen said.

Cheyenne LEADS is offering land and cash. The company could receive a total package of about $3 million, Jensen said.

Jobs in Cheyenne

About 200 people currently work for Magpul in Erie, Colo. About 184 positions will leave Colorado, with the majority of them going to Wyoming because the manufacturing and distribution parts of the company have more people, Duane Liptak, Magpul’s director of product management and marketing, said.

Some current Magpul employees will leave Colorado and move to Wyoming or Texas. Exact numbers are not yet known. Current employees were notified of the company’s decision Thursday morning, Liptak said.

“There are going to be significant hiring opportunities at the Wyoming facility,” he said. “Those will start to be posted as soon as we can finish up the improvements and remodeling at the initial location, the temporary facility.”

The company, which started in 1999 and is named after its original Magpul product that aids the manipulation of rifle magazines while reloading under stress, “historically has had an extremely strong growth curve,” Liptak said.

Jensen, of the Wyoming Business Council, expects about 80 jobs in Cheyenne during the first year of operation with some of them being employee transfers from Colorado to Wyoming.

Jobs will be in manufacturing, assembly and distribution and ones that require bachelor’s degrees, Jensen said.

“They’re fully benefited,” Jensen said. “That’s something that we need to encourage and be proud of is that these jobs come with full benefits and they will be very much a contributor to the overall economy.”

Manufacturing power

Magpul’s decision to move to Wyoming could attract other manufacturers to consider the Cowboy State, Jensen said.

“There’s been at least two other companies that are associated with Magpul that have indicated an expansion of their facilities to be able to continue in their supply relationship with Magpul,” he said.

Officials say Wyoming’s economy, heavy in minerals extraction, tourism and agriculture, needs to diversify. With Magpul, the manufacturing sector will move to a new level, Jensen said.

“At the end of the day, that’s all this company really is,” he said. “It’s all about manufacturing, product development, product design and then distribution of those products.”

Jensen hopes Magpul will partner with existing manufacturing facilities when necessary to strengthen the overall sector in Wyoming.

Magpul is not publicly traded and the company’s executives like to keep revenues private, Liptak said.

The Denver Post reported last year that Magpul was Colorado’s largest and most profitable manufacturer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Choosing Wyoming

Before even announcing the company was leaving Colorado, Magpul executives talked with business and political leaders in the state to the north, Liptak said.

“We actually initially spoke to the governor of Wyoming and his office and Cheyenne LEADS prior to the signing of the (Colorado) legislation, as we were looking at our initial options,” Liptak said.

But its search for new locations went national. Jensen recalled the numerous states that rolled out the welcome mat for Magpul.

Magpul executives like Wyoming because the state’s values of liberty and cherishing the right to bear arms align with those of the company and customers, Liptak said.

“The spirit of free enterprise is alive in Wyoming, for sure,” he said.

Magpul Chief Operating Officer Doug Smith said the moves to Wyoming and Texas will occur while operations are ongoing, “and our supply chain will not be interrupted and our loyal customers will not be affected.”

The company hasn’t yet decided exactly where in north-central Texas its headquarters will be. Three sites are being considered. Magpul managers are working with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Economic Development Corp.

Magpul isn’t the first Colorado company to relocate in Wyoming.

In 2013, Fort Collins-based HiViz Shooting Systems -- which manufactures light-gathering sights, recoil pads and accessories for the shooting industry – and Littleton-based ammunition company Ammo Kan announced they will make Laramie home in 2014.

“We’ve got 30-plus other, existing companies that are in this business, in this industry,” Jensen said. “So what is says is, ‘Look, you’re in this business, you want to be here long-term? Wyoming has the cost structure and regulatory environment that you can thrive in for the long haul.”

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

“I liken it to sort of the visibility we got when we brought NCAR to the state for the data industry. This will raise our visibility for the shooting, hunting and outdoor technology industry as well.”

- Bob Jensen, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council

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