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.