Christensen Arms growing, hiring, sales are increasing
GUNNISON—Recent rapid growth in firearm production and sales at Christensen Arms during the past six months has resulted in an operational expansion and the hiring of more than 30 full-time employees.
The company has experienced such quick development that some firearm models, like the entry-level, steel barrel “Mesa” bolt rifle, have more than doubled in the past year. Models like the “Ridgeline” bolt rifle, the company’s least expensive carbon fiber-wrapped barrel rifle, have also seen increased demand.
Altogether, Christensen Arms has introduced six new firearms models and several new firearm accessories and components over the past six months.
Kort Nielson, Christensen Arms director of marketing, attributes the rapid growth to the company’s new products, improved quality control, customer service and marketing.
“We’re shipping more product than ever before and have a very positive outlook for the rest of the year,” said Jason Christensen, Christensen Arms’ president.
Jeff Bradley, Christensen Arms’ account manager, said that while the company had hoped for this growth, it came unexpectedly.
Although Christensen Arms firearms are not cheap, costing anywhere from $1,295 to $5,495, Bradley says that customers are drawn to their product because of new, innovative designs and unique, company-made parts. When the company was founded in Utah in 1995, they were first to develop the carbon fiber rifle barrel using aerospace design and technology.
That barrel, Bradley said, is the “heartbeat” of the business.
“What we do is make a regular, steel barrel, contour it down and then wrap it with carbon fiber,” Bradley said, adding that there are serious advantages to this design. “They are lightweight, very rigid so they have good harmonics and good accuracy, and the carbon actively transports heat away from the steel center. It does a better job of being a gun barrel.”
Bradley said it’s all about perceived value to the customer. Because of this, all Christensen Arms products carry an accuracy guarantee.
“That’s worth a lot to our customers,” Bradley said. “There are firearms that cost way less than ours and do similar things, but they don’t have carbon-fiber stock and all of the advantages we have in our firearms.”
While firearms like bolt rifles have increased in demand, modern sporting rifle sales have remained level. This, Bradley said, could be attributed to the newly elected Republican president.
“If a Democrat would have been elected, there would have been mass hysteria and impulse buying on rifles because people would be fearful of pending firearms legislation,” Bradley said. “With a Republican president, we have seen a consistent, steady growth of the firearms industry.”
Along with a commitment to provide customers with quality firearms, Bradley said that the family-owned company has a commitment to Gunnison Valley. Christensen Arms and Applied Composite Technology (ACT) Aerospace are both run by Ronald and Jason Christensen and responsible for hundreds of jobs in the valley.
Bradley said that there is no doubt the company is family-owned. He says that part of what makes the firearm so distinctive in the marketplace is because of the Christensen name, literally stamped onto the product.
“They are very good employers, that’s part of the reason we are so successful,” Bradley said.
And company employees joke with each other while going about their work—in the production warehouse, each person is responsible for making a different part of various firearms—with production manager Dave Wayman joking that the “biggest growth we’ve seen is Jeff’s [Bradley’s] belly.”
“It’s an amazing thing in the valley here, we are responsible for a lot of people making a car payment or a house payment,” Bradley said.
Chad Jorgenson is one of the newer Christensen Arms employees. He is one of more than 30 people hired in the past six months as a result of company growth.
Jorgenson has experience working with guns from his 20 years in the National Guard. In 2007 and 2008 he served in Iraq.
“I’ve been here about two months,” Jorgenson said. “It’s been pretty interesting. I needed a job and they gave it to me.”
According to Nielson, additional employees will help the company adapt to rapid growth. Previously, making and shipping a firearm order would take up to four weeks. Because of increased demand that same order can take up to ten weeks to complete.
Nielson said that the company is planning for continual growth and hopes that new products planned for the future will be successful.