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American Outdoor Brands Plans to Hire 150-Plus for Boone County Distribution Center

*Article courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune - Originally posted on March 1, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY − A shooting and hunting equipment company plans to bring a 500,000-square-foot distribution center to Boone County and is expected to create 154 jobs in the first three years of operation.

Company officials presented project plans to the Missouri Development Finance Board in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

American Outdoor Brands Corp., a national company that sells firearms, accessories and electro-optics, is eyeing 189 acres on Route Z, just north of Interstate 70, as the site of a new warehouse and distribution center, according to documents prepared by the Missouri Development Finance Board and company officials. The land has not been purchased and is outside Columbia city limits, said Elizabeth Sharp, American Outdoor's vice president of investor relations. The company also will build a 35,000-square-foot office space near the distribution center and might purchase another 22 acres for future growth, including the potential for an accessories division headquarters, documents and company officials said. In total, the company would have enough space for 1 million square feet of building space.

Formerly Smith & Wesson Holding Co., American Outdoor Brands sells its firearms to major retailers such as Cabela’s, Dicks Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shop and Wal-Mart through online retailers such as Amazon and directly to consumers. The distribution center in Boone County will consolidate the company’s distribution operations across the country, said Adam Birk, vice president of operations for Battenfeld Technologies, a division of American Outdoor Brands.

“We don’t have a strong distribution presence anymore; it’s very fragmented,” he told the Missouri Development Finance Board on Tuesday. “So, this project is to centralize that — bring all of those products and brands together in one distribution center.”

Battenfeld Technologies has a Columbia facility at 2501 LeMone Industrial Blvd. Smith & Wesson purchased Battenfeld in 2014. Larry and Brenda Potterfield, owners of MidwayUSA, founded Battenfeld and in 2012 sold their ownership stake to Clearview Capital, a Connecticut private equity firm. Today, it employs about 100 people, Birk said. Battenfeld's Columbia presence was a reason for bringing American Outdoor Brands to Boone County, he said.

He and Battenfeld CEO Jim Gianladis presented the distribution center project Tuesday to the Missouri Development Finance Board. American Outdoor Brands sought $1.5 million in bonds through the Missouri BUILD bond program, which provides financial incentives for companies in certain industries that meet minimum investment and job creation requirements. American Outdoor Brands is purchasing the bonds, and the board unanimously approved the project.

The company must create at least 100 jobs to receive the bonds, and American Outdoor Brands intends to create 328 jobs. The company’s average salary is $46,786, or an average of $22.50 per hour, which is more than the Boone County average wage of $36,225.

American Outdoor Brands also is seeking more than $9 million in other government incentives.

The company will invest $55 million over three years, including spending for land acquisition, construction and machinery and equipment costs, company officials said Tuesday.

Mike Downing, director of the Department of Economic Development, said the net benefit to the state is $10.7 million over 15 years.

Boone County is offering a 50 percent tax abatement on real property over 10 years and 50 percent personal property tax abatement for the depreciable life of the equipment for an estimated value of $5.35 million, according to documents prepared by the Missouri Development Finance Board. Stacey Button, president of Regional Economic Development Inc., would not comment on the abatement after the meeting but said more details will be revealed during a meeting Friday among the local taxing districts.

American Outdoor Brands could be the fifth company to receive tax breaks from the county. The Boone County Commission heard testimony over a 75 percent tax abatement for Platteville, Colo.-based Aurora Organic Dairy last week. The company is set to bring a $90 million milk and butter processing plant near Paris and Waco roads in Columbia. The commission still needs to vote on the abatement.

ABC Laboratories Inc., Kraft Heinz and Dana Light Axle Products Inc. have been previously approved for property tax breaks.

Birk said the labor market in the Columbia area and Missouri was a factor in American Outdoor Brands selecting Boone County for its distribution center. The central location and proximity to the Midway USA headquarters in northern Columbia and Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield were also considered. He also credited business-friendliness, new government leadership in Missouri and a recently passed right-to-work law as reasons for building in Boone County.

This article was first published online on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 4:32 p.m.

 

To view the full article from the Columbia Daily Tribune, click here.