Gunmaker Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. will close an injection molding plant in Connecticut as part of a larger company reorganization that will see that work move to Tennessee.
The Springfield, Mass.-based company said injection molding for its own products ultimately will transfer to a new $120 million location in Maryville, Tenn. Smith & Wesson also handles work for outside customers at the injection molding plant in Deep River, Conn., but the company plans to sell that portion of the business.
Relocating plastics parts manufacturing comes as Smith & Wesson raised concerns about proposed legislation in Massachusetts that would outlaw the manufacture of assault rifles in the state.
The news is grabbing headlines in Massachusetts, where Smith & Wesson has been located in Springfield since 1852. Along with moving certain operations, the company's headquarters also will transfer to Maryville.
The company's Springfield site will remain open to continue a portion of the manufacturing process, but about 750 jobs are expected to move to Tennessee from that location, Deep River and a third site in Columbia, Mo.
"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," CEO Mark Smith said in a statement.
Smith attacked legislative proposals that he said allegedly run contrary to Second Amendment rights.
"While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60 percent 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," he said.
State Sen. Cynthia Creem is a proponent of legislation to ban manufacturing of assault weapons in Massachusetts. She blasted Smith & Wesson's decision to move.
"It's preposterous to think that Smith & Wesson decided to relocate its headquarters based on a bill that was filed in April and has not yet received a hearing," the senator said in a statement.
"The company is engaged in a significant consolidation, including closing two facilities that are not even located in Massachusetts, and it is trying to deflect blame elsewhere. I stand behind my bill banning the in-state manufacture of assault weapons and large-capacity feeding devices," said Creem, Senate majority leader.
"The legislation would align Massachusetts law with Massachusetts' values and ensure that we no longer export bloodshed to other states. It's a shame that Smith & Wesson has decided to move jobs out of the Commonwealth, but the company alone is responsible for that decision," she said.
The most recent listing of injection molders in North America compiled by Plastics News ranks the company's Smith & Wesson Precision Components division as No. 205 in North America, with estimated annual sales of $30 million. The ranking estimates employment at the site at 200.
The injection molding site has 52 machines ranging from 28 to 730 tons of clamping force with the ability to create parts from 0.8 to 90 ounces. The location also has in-house mold making capabilities for both prototype and production molds.
Smith & Wesson jumped into the injection molding business in 2014 when the firm purchased Tri Town Precision Plastics Inc. of Deep River for about $23 million.
At the time, the gunmaker said injection molding is a significant element of gun production and the purchase allowed the firm to vertically integrate a key manufacturing component. The move was expected to lower costs and take risk out of the company's supply chain.
Work is slated to begin this quarter on the new Tennessee facility and be substantially complete by the summer of 2023. More than 1,000 workers will remain in Springfield, which will remain home to forging, machining, metal finishing and assembly of revolvers, the company said.
Along with injection molding, the Tennessee site will include pistol and long-gun assembly and distribution, the company said.