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Why This Rifle Maker Keeps Its Base Of Operations In One Of The Most Anti-Gun Parts Of The Country

Indianapolis- It’s right there for all to see—and with pride: Henry—Made In America, or Not At All. That’s the mantra of Henry Repeating Arms, a gun manufacturer based out of Bayonne, New Jersey. Yes, I know. What’s the gun maker doing sticking around in one of the most anti-gun states in the country? It’s a question that the company’s president, Anthony Imperato, answered and it made total sense. We’ll get to that in a bit, but what kind of firearms does this company make? They’re lever action rifles and shotguns commonly seen in any Western film. Think Battle of the Little Big Horn. Okay—bad example, but the Clint Eastwood classic film “Unforgiven,” or “Pale Rider,” would feature rifles that Henry doles out on a daily basis. All parts are made in America, a phrase that’s become perilously close to ornamentation as more companies ship their production overseas. For Henry, that’s not an option. And it likes to be seen as a beacon, an example of an American company that’s thriving while still making its product in the good U.S. of A.

Townhall caught up with Mr. Imperato at the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we got to learn a little more about his company. 

“It’s our favorite trade show to do because we’re meeting the consumer,” said Imperato, speaking about the annual meeting. “It gives us an opportunity to meet Henry users, and like-minded people, and we hear suggestions from consumers. We’re happy to be here.”

Who wouldn’t be? It’s a place where those who support Second Amendment rights and the Constitution can meet those like-minded people as described without being smeared and denigrated by today’s mainstream news media that liken the NRA to ISIS.

It’s that passion that’s lead to Mr. Imperato to be one of the main sponsors of the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, which Townhall Media also proudly sponsors, which once again featured Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald J. Trump this year. Henry Repeating Arms also sponsors the Friends of the NRA Foundation BBQ & Auction.

“It gives us a chance to align with an emotional event. We’re not talking about just specifications on the gun,” he said. “It’s about the passion. That’s a big part of our personality.” And part of that personality of Henry is centered on the emphasis of its firearms being made in America. 

“We take a lot of pride,” he said speaking about championing that slogan.  “We were in the ‘made in America’ bandwagon before it became fashionable.”

As for Henry itself, it’s not Proctor and Gamble, but it employs 535 people in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Imperato said it's not massive, but it’s “535 jobs that the state of Wisconsin and NJ are happy to have…well, maybe not the state of New Jersey,” he added with a chuckle. Of the 535 employees, 300 are based in Wisconsin, while 235 work out of the Garden State.

So, why stay, to put it bluntly, in an anti-gun hellhole? It’s very simple. It’s a family history. It’s also the fact that 235 people would probably have to find new jobs. That’s not acceptable either. 

“I’m in the gun business because my grandfather had a police equipment gun shop in Lower Manhattan that dates back to 1911,” Imperato said of why he remains in the Tri-State area. “So, we’ve been on the east coast in the gun business for over 100 years, and with that--that whole region Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc. is considered gun valley, and if you want to lump New Jersey into it, now you can,” he added. 

The point is he’s making it work. And he can continue to remain where he is because of his loyal customer base. That’s grounded in Henry’s dedicated customer service. No, excuse me; award-winning customer service team that ensures the company is in keeping with going the extra mile in quality control.

“We’re obsessed with quality. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a Henry, you are going to be 100 percent satisfied, or you get your money back,” he said. 

But Mr. Imperato also said there’s also a bonus to buying a Henry rifle. As for his competitors, well, let’s say Mr. Imperato does not lack confidence in taking them on in this arena.

“In addition, we like people to be surprised in that they’re going to get more than they expected. The wood is going to be exceptional, the wood and metal fit, the feeding, the accuracy, etc. it’s all backed by award-winning customer service. As far as quality, we’ll match ourselves with any other top-named brands that are known for quality.” 

Now, who promotes Henry rifles? Does it have any prominent figures giving Henry good press? Well, yes. Though Mr. Imperato didn’t name names, he did say that there are “Henry owners in all walks of life from the American farmer to the sheriff, etc. on up to a lot of politicians, entertainers, pro-athletes, and even…President Donald J. Trump.”

With any company, there’s the act of giving back to one’s community, which Henry carries out through its Guns For Great Causes charity arm.

“It started by using our guns to raise money for individual sick children’s cases, and that morphed into some donations to national hospitals,” said Imperato. “We step up to the plate as best we can.”

Henry gave $100,000 to the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital last year, but wildlife conservation and veterans groups are causes Henry gives money to on a regular basis.

Yet, we have the 2020 election ahead of us, and the current crop of Democratic candidates are pushing some of the most extreme and radical anti-gun policies in recent memory.

“I’ve always preached that even when things seem quiet, we should be vigilant and never be asleep at the wheel,” said Imperato, which is something that most pro-Second Amendment supporters live by. “So, it’s obviously more than that at this point, so it’s all hands on deck.” Yet, when it comes to getting in on the lobbying effort, like what the NRA-ILA does, Mr. Imperato has no appetite for that. He wants to keep doing well and keep cutting metal.

After all, he has Remington, Sig Sauer, Ruger, Springfield, and other firearms manufacturers to compete and deal with on a daily basis. All of these companies, like Henry, tout their quality and reliability. Yet, it has not been difficult to set themselves apart from the others in America’s gun market. In fact, it’s been easy. It has to have been, given that they’ve carved out 95 percent of the rimfire market and 80 percent of the centerfire market.

“We’ve worked hard to earn the position of being the leader lever action manufacturer,” said Imperato.

Henry is more of a heritage firearms maker that’s well respected. There’s no question. And the company now has another honor it can hold up high: being inducted into the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom. It’s an honor given to individuals and enterprises that have donated over $1,000,000 to help preserve our right to civilian gun ownership codified in our Constitution.

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