April 1st, 2010

Marlin to be Re-Organized as Fishing Gear Manufacturer

Just days after surprising the firearms industry with the announcement that the Marlin Firearms factory in North Haven, Connecticut would be shut down, executives of Remington Arms today dropped another bombshell concerning the fate of Marlin, a Remington subsidiary. This morning, Remington released a statement declaring that Marlin would be “re-constituted” as a multi-product outdoor gear manufacturer, with a primary focus on fishing tackle and equipment.

In the wake of Remington’s decision to shut down the North Haven plant by mid-2011, laying off all 265 Marlin employees in the process, many questions remained as to the fate of legendary arms-maker Marlin, which has been building firearms in Connecticut continuously since 1870. When the Marlin plant closure was announced, Remington, part of the Cerberus Freedom Group of companies, would neither confirm nor deny that Marlin firearms, particularly the popular lever-action rifles, would still be produced. Sources inside Remington were quoted as saying that Marlin rifle production would be relocated to Remington’s Ilion, New York facilities.

Now it appears that Remington has other, quite radical plans for Marlin, which surely reflect the strategic goals of Remington’s parent, Cerberus Capital Management, a private holding company. Cerberus has no doubt “seen the writing on the wall”, recognizing that gun sales are in a steep decline following the buying frenzy precipitated by the Democratic election victories in 2008. To protect its investment in Marlin, Cerberus saw the need to shift Marlin into a whole new market. That’s certainly a bold strategy, but is it wise?

AccurateShooter.com was able to reach one high-level Remington insider with insights into the latest Marlin transition. Our source confirmed that “most of the Marlin firearms line will survive, but not every product will be staged into production right away. Only the most popular rifles will be transitioned into immediate production at Remington plants in Ilion, New York and elsewhere.” Our source explained that building Marlin rifles outside Connecticut is not easy: “Understand that most of the machines and tooling in North Haven were quite antiquated. It’s not even worth moving most of the big equipment. We have to figure out how to replace that junk before we can start building lever guns again.”

“Marlin’s real focus”, our source continued, “will be the fishing stuff — and that’s where 90% of our resources will be allocated. Our market research shows we can sell more rods and reels, at a higher profit margin, than we can old-fashioned rifles. Demographically, fishing is growing while rifle shooting has become a cultural anachronism — a hobby for old white guys. With the Marlin name and trademark, we realized we had a perfect platform to get into the fishing market. Ask most Americans what a Marlin is… nine out of ten will say it’s a fish, not a rifle. Since most consumers already connect the name Marlin with fishing, it made perfect sense to change the company’s focus. And now’s the perfect time to do it, what with the imminent North Haven plant closure.”

While devotees of Marlin rifles may lament the passing of yet another storied American gunmaker, anglers nationwide, who outnumber rifle shooters by nearly 3 to 1, have reason to celebrate. The “rebirth” of Marlin as a rod, reel, and tackle manufacturer promises to offer fishing enthusiasts a wide range of new products, proudly marketed with the “Made in USA” legend. Shown above is Marlin’s new “Fish Eagle II” Rod and Reel combo, complete with Marlin’s signature lever action. The fishing gear industry is currently dominated by foreign manufacturers. Marlin’s movement into the fishing market gives anglers a chance to “buy American” again.

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