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October Soapbox- Carl Prokop 10/29/1949 – 09/08/2020

Carl Prokop 10/29/1949 – 09/08/2020

Early last month, North American Arms lost its longest tenured employee, Carl Prokop.  He served our company for more than 44 years.

I would have described his service as “tireless”, but it had become clear for the past “several” years that he was feeling worn out.  On one of my last visits to Provo early this year, Carl indicated that he was hoping to enjoy a long-awaited and well-deserved retirement starting sometime this summer.  Eight grandchildren (and two greats) were waiting.  My General Manager, Ken, convinced him to hang around for another couple of months to help with some other transitional issues we were addressing.  I don’t believe Carl objected too loudly, as I don’t think he really wanted to go.  Figuratively speaking, he died at his workbench.

Carl was at one point responsible for all manufacturing at NAA, a role he held for “decades”.  Carl made it known several years ago that he would be happy to forgo the management/supervisory responsibilities and instead help mentor the flow of promising young gunsmiths who arrived over the years.  As you can imagine, there was almost never an issue he hadn’t seen before, nor was he at a loss for how to fix it.  While he didn’t have a lengthy background of formal training, his skills were acquired and his talents burnished from over 40 years of on-the-job training.  With a product as occasionally idiosyncratic and sometimes as mysterious as the seemingly simple mini-revolver, his experience was literally invaluable.

I considered Carl a friend despite the fact that I knew so little about him personally.  I knew he was a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam.  Our chats consisted primarily of small talk.  He was part of our small management meetings which I attended when I was at the factory, and I visited with him briefly whenever I would wander around the shop floor.  What I did know about Carl was that he was reliable, hard-working, well-intentioned and worthy of the trust that I extended to him, along with Ken, to responsibly and successfully manage my business.  I knew he shared my commitment for quality, and to make NAA the best small firearms company it could be.

NAA is smaller for his absence but richer for his contributions.  R.I.P., my friend.

September Soapbox- Feeling Down But Not Out

I’m writing this morning suffering “mild depression”.  This feeling is caused by several influences.  Where to start?  Let’s try COVID-19. (Or maybe it’s the miserable state of my golf game).

It’s my observation that the myriad of outcomes of this event have been, without any exception I can identify, worse than initially forecasted.  However long you may have thought (or still think) that its impact will last – it has been/will be longer.  However many people you may think will be effected, and to what degree will be the effect – it is more and worse.  However soon you may think a “cure” will become available, it will take longer, it may (or may not) be safe and effective, and it might trickle down to you and me by next summer although, as I’ve illustrated in a couple examples, the smart money sez the likely outcomes will be worse than we imagine even now.

Peripheral to the disease, my already limited confidence in the power of The State has become shattered, due in no small part to the lack of leadership of so many involved in the process and the gross politicization of the information and advice that’s being offered to us in our times of greatest need.  People and agencies in who we should have the greatest respect and confidence too often have been shown to be lacking.  In too many instances, neither the science nor the data are legitimate or trustworthy.

Where I initially thought the devastation to he economy would be swift and catastrophic, I now believe it will be slow and catastrophic.  Many businesses are simply hemorrhaging cash and employees, teetering towards an almost certain collapse.  Unemployment continues to grow and the social safety net continues to unravel.  The hospitality industry is reeling, transportation is on its knees (I expect the failure of at least one legacy carrier), the face of retail is now reflected on your computer screen and commercial real estate is no longer the bedrock that it appeared to be just a couple of years ago, for example.  The buoyancy of the stock market continues to astonish me.  I still can’t imagine what will be the longterm effects of the government’s profligate (but perhaps necessary) spending but I feel certain that there will be some, and they won’t be pretty.  The only thing saving the government from making more bad decisions is its seeming inability to make any decisions at all.

But we can fix that, because we’re facing elections!  WhooHoo.  They can’t come – and go – soon enough.

I can’t recall feeling less hopeful about the prospects of “life” after an election than I do now.  Regardless of the outcome (and how long do you think it will take for that to be determined, and then acknowledged?), I feel certain that the residual acrimony and hostility in our social fabric will reach new heights of toxicity.  It’s crippling and causes many of us to lose hope, and whether that hopelessness stems from your economic circumstances (no job, no prospects), your social circumstances (Black, Hispanic) or from wherever else you may suffer mental anguish, with no faith in the future, decisions and behaviors become compromised, civility and responsibility are jettisoned, and circumstances deteriorate further still.

Please don’t mistake my less-than-positive outlook with whining.  Notwithstanding all of the feeling of doom and gloom that I’m spouting, don’t think for a moment that I don’t recognize that I’m one of the most fortunate people on the face of this earth, for which I express my thanks and gratitude every day.  Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed more opportunities than many.  I have reasonably good health, particularly considering the wanton negligence I’ve shown in attempting to maintain it.  I have a family which I adore and which loves me back.  I have a successful small business that’s been built not by me but by a host of people who’ve I’ve entrusted with its management and who have repaid me in spades with their dedication and hard work.  I feel safe and valued, a feeling I wish everyone enjoyed, and I commit that my individual behavior will be consistent with that goal.

On the business front, please accept my apologies for the delays that many of you are suffering in an attempt to purchase NAA goods.  The times are, indeed, unprecedented and business is particularly brisk.  We commit that every gun which leaves our factory will reflect the quality of “Convenient, Reliable, Effective” firearms you’ve come to expect from us. Thank you for your confidence and your business. – Sandy

PS: While I invite you to leave comments in the space provided below, please instead address them directly to me at Sandy@NorthAmericanArms.com if you want to be assured of a timely, personal response.

July Soapbox- Proud to be an American

Hey all,

Sadie here again. I am excited to be in charge of the July soapbox this month. I introduced myself a couple of months ago and since then feel as though I have learned a ton and can finally contribute more to this great company.

With the fourth of July this past week I personally have had a lot of time to think about what a special opportunity and blessing it is to have been raised in and live in the United States of America. The fourth of July came at just the right time to be able to step back from all of the negative things we have been experiencing and give us a time to spend with family, friends, and reflect on the great country we live in. Our country is not without its flaws, but it continues to land of the free and home of the brave. A place I am proud to call my home, and a place that I continue to strive to make a better place for all of its citizens. I hope we all can continue to make it a better place.

July is going to be a great month for NAA as well. We have some great things coming out this month including some new apparel that we will release later this week and a fun announcement about a partnership with Viridian that we have been working on! So, stay tuned for that! If you haven’t already, be sure to follow us on our social media pages so that you can stay up to date with things that we have been working on. We are on Instagram @Northamericanarms and Facebook: North American Arms. We are consistently trying to put out fresh content to keep you updated on our great products and everything that we have to offer you! Lastly, we have introduced the product of the month again and will be highlighting a new accessory every month and putting it on sale. This month is a sweet pocket holster for the magnum frame guns, so check it out on the website and get yours while it is still on sale!

Until next time!

Sadie

June Soapbox – “Perfect” Storm

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Thanks to COVID-19, the levels of anger and hostility many people feel have risen, largely as a function of the severity of their lockdown status, their suffering through miserable weather, possible lost jobs, etc.  For example, I plan to return to PHL later this week (crimson RED status) and I anticipate facing a very angry community – businesses closed, lockdown in effect, lousy weather – quite unlike the more comfortable, permissive (Yellow, tending Green) circumstance I’m leaving in SW FL.  News reports confirm that the “angry zone” occupies broad swaths of our country.  A lot of hostile energy, looking for an outlet.  What to do?

Enter George Floyd (R.I.P.), the most recent face of police criminal misuse of force.  Tragic.  Inexcusable.  The unlawful behavior of a reprehensible few stains the many dedicated professionals who are sworn to – and who generally deliver – necessary and important public service.  The response in this and ALL instances ought to be swift justice.  The protests can’t be loud enough.  Maybe, similar to the thoughts of many following another episode of senseless gun violence, THIS will be the catalyst to deliver enduring change.  Sadly, color me skeptical/cynical.

I shouldn’t diminish/compare the level/intensity of anger for social injustice vs. the relatively short-lived interruption of a pandemic.  The injustice component is personal, soul-felt and has been simmering for decades.  “Something should be done!”; indeed.  The pandemic is simply a momentary source for more anger.

Please stay safe and remain hopeful.  Admittedly, mine is hanging by a thread.

May 2020 Soapbox – Disruption. Just wow…

It seems like a long time ago that I wrote my last Soapbox (“March – Corona Virus”), but it’s just been two months (in the interim, my Marketing Manager, Sadie, introduced herself).  When I spoke about the then-recently discovered virus and the devastating consequences that it would likely cause to our economy, I had very little appreciation for the breadth and scale of the upset that was yet to come, and I still don’t.  This thing is far from played-out.  Most of the attention has rightfully been given to public health and safety strategies (social distancing, quarantining) but the sudden, bilateral rush to throw container loads – a.k.a. trillions – of $ at the problem speaks volumes about the devastating consequences of the economic disruption we’re only beginning to recognize.  Industry and commerce have been sent reeling, with the prospects of recovery months, if not years, in the future.  Energy, transportation, hospitality, retail, all on the verge of collapse.  A recession is a certainty.  Unemployment levels will likely exceed those reached in the Great Depression.  No sports to keep us amused but, boy, have we been binging (I recommend Tiger King on Netflix; you can’t make this stuff up).

As I had anticipated, business in the firearms industry has been robust (see below), and NAA has gotten its share and our future continues to look bright.  I’m told that new buyers have been driving this recent buying activity and while we know we’re certainly not anyone’s first gun, we also know that very few people have just one gun.  We may not be your second, or even your third, but we know, you new shooters, you are going to find – and want – us sooner or later.  We’ll be patient.
I’m the last person who can complain about what for many remains a hellish personal experience.  All things considered, life in SW FL has been pretty comfortable.  Still playing some golf and a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle about half completed.  Please know the heartfelt sympathy I feel for you if you are, like one of my daughters, on the roles of the temporarily unemployed through no fault of your own.  While the tunnel is very long, there is indeed a light at the end of it.
Stay safe. – Sandy
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and particularly their legislative affairs group, deserves great credit for their quick, effective, mulit-fronted efforts to see that firearms manufacturers and retailers were deemed “essential businesses” across the land with very few exceptions, and frequently in the face of substantial governmental pushback.  The NSSF’s engagement was timely and successful, just another example of work that makes them worthy of support.

April Soapbox – My Introduction

Hey All,

Happy April! With everything that is going on I hope that statement still applies to you and that you are finding and having happy moments amidst all the chaos that is going on. For the soapbox this month I get to introduce myself to you! My name is Sadie Sweat, and I have recently come to NAA as the new Marketing Manager. I grew up in the beautiful Heber City, Utah and currently am living here in Orem while I am finishing up my degree in Public Relations at Utah Valley University.

I am thrilled to be here with the NAA Family and have already enjoyed my three months here immensely. I grew up in Utah on a farm hunting and camping which has prepared me well to be in the firearms industry. (My dad is so proud). I am focusing right now on showcasing all of the products that we have better across all media channels and improving the aesthetic of our website. I hope you have enjoyed the awesome products that we have recently been working on, as well as the originals that are the life blood of our company.

When I am not taking photos of Mini’s or posting new products online, I like to spend my time outdoors. I love all sports, playing and watching but especially soccer, running our cows up in Star Valley, Wyoming with my family, or reading a good book in the comfort of my home. I am excited for what is to come and for my future with this great company.

Take all precautions to stay safe and healthy! Until next time!

Sadie

March Soapbox- Corona Virus

Who knew?  A month ago, I’d never heard of it.  One of those curious, foreign calamities that had a news value but otherwise appeared to present very little threat to “us”.  Boy, has that changed, and who knows what the endgame is.

Here’s a small patch of silver lining: the existence/threat of this virus has (at least temporarily) squelched the growing crisis in Hong Kong regarding human rights.  It appeared inevitable that the Chinese government would ultimately launch a Tianamen-style crushing military response.  That threat (temporarily) no longer exists, but no thoughtful individual imagines that the underlying issues that led to the rioting are anything but momentarily dormant – the conclusion of that story has not yet been told.

The first signs of an economic impact – the almost unprecedented, precipitous decline of the stock market – have become blindingly apparent and they resonate across the entirety of the economy (reality check: the DJIA average now stands at roughly what was a record high as little as five months ago).  While fear has exaggerated the decline, there are clearly real supply chain disruptions that make tariffs look like a speed bump.  Ask Apple how this will impact their business.  The ripples are beginning to circle the globe.

For example, next week’s IWA exposition, the international equivalent of SHOT annually held in Germany, has been “postponed”.  The liklihood of the NRA Convention being conducted in Nashville in about six weeks?  I doubt it.  The prospects for the Olympic games being contested in August in Tokyo?  I doubt this “thing” is going to be fixed in time to assure the safety to the potential attendees.

We’re just getting a taste of the impact of this virus here at home and while it’s far too early to imagine the possible outcomes, I’m not reassured about our ability to combat the contagion.  It’s my increasingly cynical nature to fear the worst when my government echos Franklin Roosevelt (“The only thing we have to fear …”).  My imagination runs wild.

History has shown the impact that the threat of social unrest has on the firearms market.  I’d very gladly forgo the likely increase in business for a solution to, or even mere mitigation of,  the problem.

BTW, Bernie vs. Biden?  (Biden at a town hall 02/20: “Gun manufacturers, I’m coming for you, period”.  Oh please … bite me).  A titanic struggle between Lilliputians.  A war of wits between unarmed opponents.  The Democrats will deserve the outcome of the nomination/election process that appears increasingly likely.

So, that’s my story.  Happy March!

February Soapbox – NSSF Real Solutions

It’s nice to be back.  I missed you guys and girls.

I’ve just returned from SHOT, a little the worse for the wear, but I was happy to reconnect with so many old friends and industry associates.  Our response to the inquiries “What’s new?” was a relatively modest one.  You’ll have seen or will see some additional barrel lengths, specifically the 4” Ranger II (California: you’re welcome).  We’re also looking at offering some additional colored finishes (bronze and dark blue were shown at the show) as well as a faux case-hardened look (not my personal favorite, I’ll admit, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder).  You can probably expect to see these offered as TALO special editions.  Otherwise, I answered the question with “Same old low prices, same old high quality and same old good customer service”.

I wanted to briefly redraw your attention to the state of the firearms industry and last year’s stunningly abrupt reversal in the anti-gun rhetoric spewed by Joe Biden, echoed by several others of his fellow candidates, where he shifted his sights away from the NRA and refocused them, instead, on the universe of firearms manufacturers who he characterized as “the enemy” of public safety https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/450807-biden-enemy-is-gun-manufacturers-not-the-nra.  I use that as counterpoint to a campaign designed and supported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation called “Real Solutions” https://www.nssfrealsolutions.org/ which illustrates the policies and programs created and championed by the industry which actually have a demonstrable, positive impact on public safety.  This is joined by a companion program recently launched called “Gun Owners Care” https://gunownerscare.org/, an effort intended to deflect the broad-brushed criticisms that gun owners like you and me are inherently bad people because of our enjoyment of firearms and the rights and traditions they embody.

We are not the enemy and I’m tired of the slander routinely heaped upon us.  How about you?