One of the country’s oldest gun manufacturers, Smith & Wesson, will move its headquarters from Massachusetts to Tennessee, the company announced Thursday.
In a news release, the company cited a “changing business climate for firearms manufacturing in Massachusetts,” and said it would leave its home of 170 years for a state which will not jeopardize its ability to manufacture quality firearms.
The company recently began seeking an escape from its historic home in New England over the state’s lawmakers and their liberal language in proposed bills about firearms, the news release stated. After nailing down criteria for a new state as a landing spot, the company began to look.
Smith & Wesson said that the state of its new home would need to be gun friendly, business friendly, affordable and near crucial transportation infrastructure.
The company also said its new home would need to be a place that would offer its employees opportunities and quality of life.
President and CEO Mark Smith said the company finally decided on Maryville, Tennessee, a suburb of Knoxville, as a place to relocate its headquarters and 750 jobs. Smith, per the company, made the decision over “legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state.”
The company has been headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1850. Smith and the company said the location there will remain open in some capacity.
But Tennessee will be home, and that process will begin in 2023.
“This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative,” said Smith in a statement.
“These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families, and enjoying the shooting sports,” added the CEO.
“While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson,” Smith also said.
A location in Maine will remain in operation.
Smith expressed regret for employees who will be affected by the relocation and consolidation, which will cost Massachusetts 550 jobs and 200 more combined from the other sites set to close.
“Our loyal employees are the reason for our success and are always our number one priority,” he said. “We are deeply saddened by the impact that this difficult decision will have on so many of our dedicated employees, but in order to preserve future jobs and for the viability of our business in the long term, we are left with no choice but to relocate these functions to a state that does not propose burdensome restrictions on our company.”
Smith also said that one reason the company made the announcement of its move to Tennessee is so employees can have time to prepare.
“We are making this announcement now to ensure that each employee has the time to make the decision that is right for them and their families. We are firmly committed to working on an individual level with each and every one of those who will be affected,” he said. “We will assist any affected employee who is willing and able to move with financial and logistical relocation assistance. However, we also fully realize that this is simply not feasible for some.”
Smith & Wesson said that employees who cannot or will not relocate to Tennessee with the company will be offered “enhanced severance and job placement services.”
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