I am sure this falls well past the definition TMI but here goes....
First of all, there is exactly ONE employee at Founding Fathers Armory - Yep, I'm the President, the Marketing Director, the Office Manager, the Shipping Dept., the Lead Machinist, Director of R&D, the IT Director, the Regulatory Compliance Officer AND the Janitor. I can't however claim all of the credit for Founding Fathers Armory's growing success. I have some incredibly supportive family & friends who have been less selfish with their time and ideas than Mother Teresa. Without them I would not have this "unique" story to tell.....
It is funny & I might add, quite enjoyable for me to watch people’s expressions when I tell them that until a little over a year ago I knew next to nothing about Manufacturing, Machining, CAD/CAM design or running a Firearms Manufacturing Company. For most of my adult life up to that point I had worked for one of the largest & most recognizable computer electronics companies in the world. I (mostly…) enjoyed my 19 year career with them developing & managing national sales organizations, creating sales & marking programs, managing emerging product lines, all while traveling extensively & spending WAY too much time on conference calls.
In late summer of 2013 I was one of 29,000 employees they laid off, which was followed by 26,000 more a few months later & I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was like 9. I quickly lined up several good opportunities & was confident that I would be back to work in no time. After all, what did I have to worry about? I had years of solid experience with one of the largest companies in the world & had even declined calls & offers from Corporate Headhunters (Recruiters for those of you who don’t speak Dilbert) numerous times in the recent past.....
Then there was the election - yes, that election! The one where the inexperienced, Constitution Hating, America Hating, Gun Hating, Capitalism Hating, Freedom Hating incumbent somehow got reelected? The weekend prior to the election I was happily considering a couple of tentative verbal offers, confident that I would have a couple of official offers to choose from by the end of the following week. Then, mysteriously, in the days following the election every tentative offer and viable opportunity I had disappeared into thin air one after another. Most of them came with similar explanations of "Sorry, we've decided to hold off hiring anyone until we get a better idea of what the economy will do bla, bla, bla". Anyone with half a brain could read between the lines & understand why – American businesses were afraid to invest, afraid to hire, afraid to grow because there was just no way of knowing what new bureaucratic red tape, regulations & economic uncertainty would be heaped upon them for the next 4 years and probably more. To be honest, I could not really blame them…
I decided to let things stabilize a bit in the Job market & decided to take it easy and spend some undistracted time with my family for last 6 weeks of 2012 and start fresh after the new year. Ultimately it was all really a blessing in disguise! During that time I realized how much I disliked Corporate America with all of its fake “culture”, bureaucracy, inane policies & mindless management. I was tired of working for butt kissing, backstabbing, dishonest, unethical weasel-ease speaking pointy haired bosses (actually mine was more of a blondish, micro managing pointy nosed weasel type, whose distant relatives living in a galaxy far, far away were the spies responsible for securing the plans that allowed the rebels to destroy the Death Star….). Oh, and did I mention the conference calls? Every Monday that I wake up and realize that I DON’T have 5-6 hours of useless unproductive conference calls I smile and feel like life is actually worth living. If you want an unbelievably realistic and well documented example of what corporate America is like, read Dilbert – No joke, it really is more truth than fiction!
I could not return to Corporate America so what did I want to do? I initially thought about consulting and then remembered the whole conference call thing so I knew that was out. I knew I wanted to make something, build something, to work with my hands. I wanted a way to become more involved in the Constitutional rights discussion! I wanted to make a unique contribution to America, something that honored its Founders and Defenders. I wanted to do something that would make my Dad and Grandfathers proud and honor their great sacrifices in defending liberty and the American way of life we all enjoy.
Then one night it hit me and I knew what I would do. I would manufacture Firearms! Lucky for me, Shot Show was just a couple of weeks away. I convinced a friend to go with me and before I knew it we were on the way to Vegas. I had spent a week in Vegas almost every January for a decade or more attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I always thought that CES was pretty cool but SHOT was so much better. The more I saw the more convinced I became that I was making the right decision. I came home, did a sanity check, spent lots of time on my knees, created and analyzed huge spreadsheets full of numbers that made my head hurt, created a business plan, got an enthusiastic thumbs up from my beautiful wife, cleaned out our savings and retirement accounts to self finance the whole thing, bought a sexy American made CNC Mill, applied for what seemed like countless business and Federal Firearms Licenses, consulted with lawyers, watched LOTS of YouTube (you can learn anything you want to know on YouTube. I kid you not), brainstormed ideas, names, designs and marketing plans. Pretty soon it all started coming together and I knew it was going work. I wrote the check for the down-payment on the CNC Mill before I even knew what G code was. It would take 3 months for my mill to be built and I had a lot to learn......
I had plenty of support and help along the way, I could not have made it this far without a lot help from my Friends & Family. I won’t mention names because of how wonderful and “free” our country is right now, but they know who they are and the important people in their lives who also sacrificed time with their loved ones while they were away helping me know that it made a huge difference and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.
While there are plenty of things about corporate America that I don’t miss (you know, the conference calls…..) there are some things that I really do miss. The People! I had the great pleasure of working with and learning from many creative and dedicated people who I came to consider close friends. I appreciate the many things I learned from them and miss the laughs and good times we had working together and I am happy to bring part of them with me into this new adventure.
Significant advances in machining / milling technology and software have been key in making this crazy idea a reality. It’s a big part of how a guy with a nerdy computer marketing background who knew pretty much nothing about machining can actually be successful at it. That and growing up with an amazing Dad who was better than MacGyver at solving complex problems using only bailing wire and duct tape! He taught me by example that one of the best ways to learn something new is to get your hands dirty and figure it out along the way. Thanks Dad!
Even with all the advanced technology, selfless friends, an incredibly supportive wife and family, parents who taught me well and countless blessings from heaven, none of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our Founding Fathers. They authored the American dream that guarantees all of us the freedom to define how we will pursue and secure our own blessings of Life, Liberty and Happiness. Despite it's problems, the United States of America is still really the only place in the world where an endeavor such as mine is even possible.
We fired up the mill for the first time in late May and the first prototype test lowers were available for field testing by mid-summer. Initial low rate production started in early fall with initial orders fulfilled shortly after. Demand has been increasing everyday thanks to people like you who have read my story, bought my products and tell your friends. This is just the first chapter in the Founding Fathers Armory story, I feel confident that with your help there will be much more to tell in the coming years. I hope you will decide to become part of my story by choosing Founding Fathers Armory the next time you exercise your "Right to keep and bear Arms"
Thank you for your time and support.
Founding Fathers Armory
Boise, Idaho USA