“And you got 25 rounds, have fun.” That’s something Bill Ruger would never have said. And that’s just one reason Ruger’s doing so well. They’ve changed quite a bit in this past decade, making products the likes of which people couldn’t love more.
A lot of people have been talking about Ruger’s success lately, leading to some pretty wild stock fluctuation, but overall, their position in the gun industry has never been better. Their stocks are recovering following a rash of panic sales that hit Ruger last may, which was proceeded by a big bump in their stocks because of their announcement that they would have to stop taking new orders for a few weeks while they caught up with the massive surge in demand for their guns at the top of this year.
We’ve gone into why Ruger has had so much success before, too. It comes down to a diverse catalog of guns that really address the wants and needs of their customers. They work hard to find gaps in their product line and fill them with just the right gun, whether that’s their wildly popular new 10/22 Takedown or their unique Single Nine. Bill Ruger may have said everyone should be able to buy a gun with a week’s pay, and no matter how much you take home in a week, they’ve probably got something for you in your price range.
Forbes staffer Abram Brown interviewed Ruger CEO Mike Fifer, who was quick to point out that it’s not just being in tune with the customers.
“We have a program called ‘Jury Testing,’ and when all the engineers tell me that the gun’s ready to go, and the manufacturing executive says we’re ready to start manufacturing, [that] we’re good to go, then we have about 50 people shoot the gun, and if it’s a small-caliber [gun] like this, we’ll have them shoot a minimum of 1,000 rounds, typically 10 different ammos, just to see if we find any issues that the consumer might encounter.
Fifer has even sent his employees out to talk to gun shop owners and customers, including senior management and VPs, to find out what real people are interested in seeing from their factory, as he does himself.
“We do a lot of research on what people want, what their desires are,” said Fifer. “We use that to drive new products. New products drive our top line, the rest of it is implementation of lean throughout the company.”
“Lean” meaning streamlined business that does more assembly to-order rather than having a lot of stock piled up. “It’s enabled us to reduce our inventory from over 130 million down to about 50 million. During that time we’ve tripled our volume [of production]. That… frees up a lot of money for more capital equipment and dividending out to the shareholders, so they like that a lot.”
And their new products, like the SR22P—which is just a crazy awesome fun pistol that, if you hadn’t had the chance to shoot one, you absolutely should try to find one—are designed to be made with more modern manufacturing and assembly techniques from the start; they have “lean” built-in.
Of course, while the best time to have bought stock in Ruger would have been back in June when it bottomed out, it’s a pretty safe bet that they haven’t peaked yet. Holiday sales are coming up and their numbers can only do likewise.
Assuming their catalog still has some gaps, that new additions like the American Rifle and the 22/45 Lite aren’t doing it for you, what would you be interested in Ruger making next? An LCR in .327 Federal Magnum? A Mini 14 in 300 AAC Blackout? Maybe a 9mm GP100? Let’s hear it.
Photo credit Jeff Quinn, “A Visit to the Ruger Factory.”