NSSF SHOT Show hosts its second Supplier Showcase during its annual event in Las Vegas, Nevada
As 2,470 firearms-related retailers and businesses set up exhibition booths for the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) 45th SHOT Show in Las Vegas, 539 of their suppliers put their wares on display in the same venue in the Suppliers Showcase upstairs.
Thousands strolled among the booths and tables on Jan. 16, the first day of the two-day showcase. David Hart, president of Minnesota-based SOTA Arms, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“Our table has been far more busy than what I would have expected,” Hart told The Epoch Times.
NSSF: The Firearm Industry Trade Association has owned and hosted SHOT Show since 1979. SHOT stands for the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show.
Hart’s company has been making and selling AR-15 rifles and parts for 12 years and attending SHOT Show for ten years. He said SOTA has a full-service machine shop and can provide any part or accessory a customer may want for their rifle. While his company supplies firearms manufacturers, Hart said SOTA also builds rifles for the retail trade.
“We will build whatever our customers want,” Hart said. “That’s really our customer base, is the masses.”
Steve Andrews is vice president of CKK Industries Inc., Peachtree City, Ga. The company sells the tools and components to make holsters, knives, and accessories. He said customer contact is indispensable in his business.
“I’m really a face-to-face, handshake kind of guy,” Andrews told The Epoch Times.
In addition to customer contact, Andrews said there’s much collaboration at the showcase. Just as customers and potential customers visit his booth, Andrews mingles with exhibitors and SHOT Show visitors. They discuss ideas for new products and services.
He said the showcase also helped him contact international clients, something many small businesses wish they could do. Andrews is especially proud of his company’s role in promoting the growth of other small businesses.
Andrews said his business increased during the pandemic. That was primarily driven by workers idled by lockdowns and looking for things to do. Some took up a hobby; some were finally starting that home business they had always dreamt of.
The fact that CKK Industries Inc. can deal in smaller quantities makes the market accessible to home business owners.
Christopher Edwards is a deputy sheriff from Alameda County, Calif., and the owner of Gray Moose Defense. As he perused the items on Andrews’ table, he said businesses like CKK Industries, Inc. make his business possible. This is his first SHOT Show, and he expects to find many ways to grow his business.
“I’m going to be extremely tired, and I might need a new pair of shoes,” he told The Epoch Times.
But not every supplier in the showcase is focused solely on firearms. Matthew Evans is vice president of Workholding for 5th Axis Inc., based in San Diego, Calif. His company does manufacture firearms accessories and components. But its main line is vises, fixtures, cutters, and other tools for precision machine work. These tools are used in the firearms manufacturing industry.
Evans told The Epoch Times that SHOT Show is an important means of maintaining contact with existing customers while developing new connections.
“It’s a great show for us,” Evans said.
Natt Stevens is the owner of Tuff OEM, another company that doesn’t have an obvious connection to firearms. Tuff OEM provides contract sewing services and makes custom PVC patches, molded products, embroidery, and other items to show a company’s brand. Stevens has been to several SHOT Shows as an exhibitor. He likes the Supplier Showcase better because it is easier to talk with customers.
“We build for a lot of brands,” Stevens told The Epoch Times. “We have found the Supplier Showcase is a much better fit.”
The business representatives said that even though they don’t manufacture or sell firearms, their businesses are directly affected by changes in the firearms industry. This includes changes in the laws covering firearms ownership.
Andrews pointed out that when Barak Obama was president, the fear was that gun control would be implemented. So, gun purchases increased and which drove up the demand for holsters. Greater demand for holsters meant a greater demand for the components to make holsters. That demand slowed briefly when Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.
“When people stop buying guns, they don’t buy as many holsters,” Andrews said.
Hart has direct experience with the effects of government regulation. He said that over time the challenge has shifted from the federal government to the states. As the Supreme Court has ruled against several gun control laws, many state and local governments have ratcheted up their efforts to clamp down on gun rights. In some states, even county governments have begun instituting new rules.
“It’s getting to be a real hassle to watch out for all the new regulations,” Hart said.
Regulations Not New to Some
Richard Sullivan is in charge of business development for Empire Precision Plastics, based in New York. His company makes polymer frames for pistols and other parts. The company also serves the medical industry and others who need plastic parts. Sullivan is familiar with state regulations.
“I’m from upstate New York, so they’ve got their thumb on us all the time,” Sullivan told The Epoch Times.
He said to key to success when dealing with government regulators is keeping up with what they are doing, regardless of their political persuasion.
“The laws change daily. They change on the left, and they change on the right, and they’re muddy in between,” Sullivan said.
Last year SHOT Show hosted its first Governor’s Forum. During this, six governors made their pitches to encourage industry leaders to move to their states. Attendees had the opportunity to explain their problems and question the state leaders. The forum was so successful that SHOT Show is hosting another meeting on Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. in the Venetian Expo’s Murano ballroom.
On hand will be Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
Big Event Expected
The Supplier Showcase will continue through Jan. 17, the first day of the SHOT Show. This year’s event promises to be one of the biggest in the show’s history.
SHOT Show is going on at The Venetian Expo and Caesar’s Forum in Las Vegas. The venues are connected by a sky bridge and feature over 800,000 net square feet of floor space. This is the 24th SHOT Show to be held in Las Vegas. The show was first held in St. Louis, Mo.
The exhibition floor will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day except Friday, Jan. 20, when the show will close at 4 p.m. Law enforcement booths in Venetian ballrooms will open at 8 a.m. daily.
The show is open only to those in the firearms industry. Registration is open at https://shotshow.org and the event.