Weatherby, Inc. officially opened the doors of its Sheridan manufacturing facility Thursday, kicking off an operation that officials believe will be a boon to both the local and state economies.
Last year, the iconic firearms manufacturer announced it would move from California, where it had operated since its founding in 1945, to Sheridan, Wyoming. Thursday, state and local officials celebrated the company’s move as a victory in Wyoming’s ongoing push to diversify its economy.
Weatherby’s opening also represents the continued growth of light manufacturing in Sheridan.
Weatherby President Adam Weatherby told the hundreds of attendees who showed up to witness the grand opening that while the company will draw on its, and Wyoming’s, traditions, the opening of the new facility represents a step forward.
“This isn’t about the past, it’s about the future,” Weatherby said.
Weatherby said 71 employees will staff approximately 30,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, many of whom were hired locally. Before the ribbon cutting, Weatherby introduced several speakers who he said were instrumental in bringing his family’s company to Wyoming.
Together, the speakers described an extensive recruiting effort that included contributions from nearly every level of the state — ranging from the governor’s office down through economic development groups and local officials.
Those groups worked together to convince Weatherby that both Wyoming’s business environment and its culture would embrace the company and help it grow.
Wyoming offered a stark contrast to California which, Weatherby said, is exactly what the company was looking for.
“We moved from the highest population state to the lowest population state; the highest taxes to the best taxes; the not-so-best gun laws to the absolute best gun laws,” Weatherby said.
Former Gov. Matt Mead said he reached out to Weatherby directly when he heard the company was looking to relocate. Mead, who emphasized the need to diversify the state’s economy during his time in office, said he believed Weatherby was exactly the type of company that Wyoming could forge a mutually-beneficial relationship with.
“To diversify, you have to build on your strengths,” Mead said.
Wyoming’s First Lady Jennie Gordon — who said her husband had planned on attending, but received a last minute invitation to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House — said she and her husband believe the state can build on Weatherby’s relocation.
“Looking ahead, Wyoming is actively seeing ways to grow its outdoor recreation economy,” Gordon said. “With the Bighorn Mountains as a backdrop for this new manufacturing facility, it’s a reminder that Wyoming has an unmatched natural asset to bring in additional revenue from hunting, shooting, fishing, camping and all recreation.”
As Weatherby sets about building its business out of its new headquarters, state and local officials will look to build on the company’s successful recruitment to create continued economic growth.
Weatherby auctioned off five rare, custom rifles during the grand opening of its new facility yesterday. Those rifles, and the prices they sold for, are listed below.
Weatherby Mark V Limited Edition Chris Kyle rifle: $8,500
Weatherby produced 26 of these limited edition rifles to honor decorated U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. The rifle auctioned off yesterday was the last one available.
Weatherby Mark V Commemorative Gold Commemorative rifle, serial number WY000003: $13,000
Weatherby Field Worn Custom Mark V, with Sheridan, Wyoming stamped on the receiver: $4,500
The company produced only 18 of these rifles.
Custom Weatherby .257 Mark V, which included a day with Weatherby President Adam Weatherby at Weatherby’s 300-yard underground range: $9,000
Mark V Gold Commemorative Rifle, serial number WY000307: $26,000