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Sig Sauer History: How One of Biggest Firearms Brands Came to Be

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:44 PM EDT

The founders of the internationally respected Sig Sauer had no intentions of going into the firearms business.

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Friedrich Peyer im Hof, Heinrich Moser, and Conrad Neher set out to create a successful wagon construction business. The trio could not have envisioned the little company they formed would one day produce firearms used by about one out of three law enforcement professionals in the United States. As Kathryn Jones notes in Management Today magazine, Sig Sauer’s clients include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Navy SEALS, the Coast Guard, and Federal Air Marshals. The company is also prominent in the consumer arena, with many of its pistols appealing to the conceal carry and home defense markets.

The company now known as Sig Sauer was already recognized for its attention to detail in the mid-1850s when it produced sophisticated wagons and railway cars. The Swiss Wagon Factory found unexpected success with its design of the muzzle-loaded Prelaz-Burnand rifle, which it created after being challenged by Switzerland’s Federal Ministry of Defense to create a state-of-the-art rifle, Sig Sauer's website said. The company wound up winning an award from the Swiss Army and soon had 30,000 orders for the Prelaz-Burnand. The Swiss Wagon Factory became The Swiss Industrial Company. Eventually, after mergers and expanded market presence, the company became Sig Sauer.

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Sig Sauer established itself as a leader in gun manufacturing, producing weapons for the Swiss Army into the 20th century. Widespread success came in the 1980s. Sig Sauer focused much of its efforts on reaching the U.S. market and established a headquarters in Virginia, later moving it to New Hampshire. The website Cybergun said Sig Sauer distributed the Blaser R93, a German-made rifle, across the United States. As the company’s reach increased, so did its collection of rifles and pistols. Firearms designed for the military or law enforcement were also adapted for self-defense and firing ranges.

In 2004, Ron Cohen became CEO of Sig Sauer. At that time, Management Today said, the company had 130 employees and about $40 million in annual sales. Cohen made a lot of changes.

“Instead of focusing on how we can outsource our engineering and manufacturing functions to other companies, we brought a big share of our manufacturing and engineering on shore into New Hampshire,” Cohen told Management Today. “We believe that having engineers sit with marketing salespeople under one roof creates flexibility, and it reduces the reaction time from market to product development and back to market.”

The “close-knit structure” established by Cohen resulted in an increase in products brought to the marketplace. Sig Sauer also broadened its global reach. While keeping its sales in France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States strong, the company is establishing relationships with emerging markets and developing countries.

“We’ve found that our brand strength overseas is just as powerful as it is in our home market even though we barely service those markets,” Cohen told Management Today. “It’s almost like an open invitation to go abroad and seek markets that are virtually untapped. If you define yourself as number one, you are stifling your growth because you already think you are king.”

Today, Sig Sauer has more than 900 employees, not bad for a little wagon-building business.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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The founders of the internationally respected Sig Sauer had no intentions of going into the firearms business.
guns, sig sauer, gun history
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:44 PM
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