Earlier this year, staff writer Neil Swidey noticed something curious: In spite of — or, he later found, because of — talk of tougher gun-control laws, firearms manufacturing in and around Western Massachusetts was booming. Business was up throughout the so-called Gun Valley, but the outlook was especially rosy at Savage Arms, a Westfield manufacturer focused on hunting rifles that had once gone into bankruptcy. “[T]he century-old pioneer that had deteriorated to the point where it was mocked as ‘Salvage Arms’ and left for dead now can’t keep up with demand,” Swidey wrote in his April 14 cover story. “Its year-over-year growth was 50 percent in 2011, 40 percent in 2012, and is on pace to pack on another 40 percent in 2013.”
It turns out someone else was paying close attention to the success of Savage Arms. In May, Virginia-based defense contractor ATK announced it was acquiring Savage’s parent company for $315 million. The deal is scheduled to close by June 30.
The acquisition is expected to benefit ATK’s shareholders, but the future is less certain for Savage’s roughly 700 employees — a skilled workforce, Swidey wrote, that has been growing in an area with a persistently high unemployment rate.
Savage officials are optimistic, however, in part because ATK hadn’t previously made guns. “They don’t have a firearms factory. There just doesn’t seem to be any redundancy there,” an executive recently told The Republican. “They are bolting us on to their organization.”
Read “Greetings from Gun Valley.”