In January 2018, gun manufacturer Weatherby announced it was moving from its home in California and resettling in Sheridan. The company makes rifles, shotguns and ammunition. The move signified a chance for more economic diversification in the Sheridan area. Last month, Weatherby opened for business north of downtown. Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler asked owner and CEO Adam Weatherby why he decided to move the business to Wyoming.
Adam Weatherby: My grandfather started the business in 1945 in California. So we'd been in California for 74 years. So it was obviously a really big decision. But California had changed a lot: business climate, tax climate, and then really gun climate, too, in regards to [the] Second Amendment. And so there were a number of things that really led us up, where years ago we knew it was probably inevitable that for our business to really carry on and flourish, it needed to be out of California.
Catherine Wheeler: And so what about Wyoming and particularly Sheridan made it a good fit for you?
AW: Typically, when you leave something for a variety of reasons, you want to go somewhere else for the opposite reasons. And so we left a state that was probably worst in regards to business tax climate, and we came to the state, that's been number one, best tax climate for three, four years running or whatever, from the Tax Foundation. Wyoming has more guns per capita, and I think we'll fight till the end to uphold our Second Amendment, which is very important. So, Sheridan really stood out for a variety of reasons. We knew we needed to be by the interstate. And really, the workforce was important. And really from the get-go there, Dr. Young at Sheridan College, and really their whole staff provided just, I think, a lot of different ways for us to partner with them, as well as really some other manufacturers in town and some different things. We knew we'd be able to get the workforce here we needed. So we had to recruit a number of people from our industry out of the state. And we knew that Sheridan with the Bighorn Mountains, the kind of vibrant downtown, Main Street, kind of that new-West that they call, it would really be a place where people would want to move, move their families. So it really had kind of a blend of kind of all of those things in one ended up I think being just kind of the perfect match for Weatherby.
CW: What kinds of jobs are you adding to Sheridan?
AW: We have about a little over 70 employees that work for us. I believe that'll be growing as our business grows here as we start manufacturing more here in Sheridan. So out of the 70, 18 of us moved from California. So over 50 people we had to hire in this past year, we recruited 15 from around the country. And then all the rest of them, we hired mostly from within Wyoming and even here locally in Sheridan.
CW: What are you looking forward to most about growing your business?
AW: You know, it's neat because I think Sheridan just fits our brand so well. And I think at [the] grand opening, people understood that and realized it a little bit. It's even neat to be able to entertain people when folks come. We have different suppliers and key marketing partners and all sorts of groups that end up coming to Weatherby. So now we get to kind of boast Sheridan as really our backyard and it a bit of who we are. And so it's a part of our culture now. You know, going forward, so last Thursday night, I think we had a table up downtown and man, we sold out of, like, hats and t-shirts. So you know, just trying to let people know we're here. And so everybody's really kind of, I think excited about us being here.
CW: As you get more into that community, are there any things that you really want to do, like, you know, get involved in like community efforts? Is there anything that you're thinking of or plans you have to get involved?
AW: Yeah, one of the things that we did on our grand opening day is we had 11 conservation groups a part of our grand opening. And those are most of those are nationwide conservation groups, some are more regional, but we invited all the local chapters, I think we donated a couple of guns to each chapter, for instance, they sold raffle tickets. They kept all those proceeds, and so that helped. So yeah, we definitely do want to be a vital and vibrant part of the community not just employing people but in a variety of different ways. But I think we'll need to find kind of what that shape is. We certainly can't say yes to all the things. But say like, so okay, that makes sense, like we provide products for people to get out there and get in the outdoors. Let's help protect our outdoors. Let's help conserve wildlife. Let's help do those things. So it really makes sense. So it's got to really align with kind of our brand and vision and those different things
CW: Thank you, Adam, for joining me. I appreciate you making some time to talk with me.
AW: You bet. Thanks so much for having me on.