By Beth Brelje Pocono Record Writer June 20, 2013
A gun manufacturer is considering buying the entire 620-acre Pike County business park for $2 million to escape an unfriendly gun climate in New York. Kahr Firearms Group would move its corporate headquarters from in Pearl River, N.Y., to Pike County, bringing a some 100 jobs, company spokesman Frank Harris said. Some jobs will be temporary construction, others will be administrative and manufacturing. The business would be built in phases. Already the company has hired engineering, legal and real estate firms to work on the project. It is conducting an executive search for an operations manager to oversee the building phase. “This land has a lot of woods. We have to clear the land and put in foundations. An operations manager will handle that and hire construction people,” Harris said. The first phase in Pike will begin with site preparation, clearing of trees and office construction as early as late this year. This will be followed by the relocation of company corporate offices and the research and development department. Some company executives who will work at the new offices have already purchased homes in Pike County, Harris said. In the second phase, manufacturing operations will be expanded to the Pike County location to meet an increasing demand for the Kahr Arms, Thompson, Auto-Ordnance and Magnum Research product lines.
High demand Business is booming. The company website advises customers that due to high demand, delivery times on firearms and high-capacity magazines will vary and may take as long as six months for new orders. Manufacturing is backlogged about a year, as are other gun makers, Harris said, although the company manages to send a little bit of product to all of its customers. Kahr Firearms Group was founded in 1994 by Justin Moon, the son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. Today the private company sells between $75 million to $100 million in firearms and accessories annually, Harris said. Since 2001, sales have grown annually by 10 to 15 percent, Harris said. That is why for two years, Kahr had been in talks to buy land for a manufacturing facility in New York. After the Newtown school shootings in December, the company saw some panic buying as there was talk of stricter gun control laws. Harris said the growth then jumped to 25 percent. New York unfriendly “We were ready to sign a deal in rural Orange County, N.Y. But when the governor passed stricter gun control, it made it tough to continue on that path, so we jumped over the river,” Harris said. “New York has become very unfriendly to people in the gun business. We feel like we are being treated like criminals in New York. That is one of the reasons we are coming to Pennsylvania.” Kahr would use some of the business park in Blooming Grove for its own purposes, and sell some lots to other manufacturers, said Pete Helms of Chant Real Estate who is handling the deal. The company signed a 60-day contract with the Pike County Economic Development Authority and the Business Development Corporation, during which the company will seek permits and approvals, and have engineers look at the property, Pike County EDA President Kathy Hummel said. The company plans an indoor shooting range to test equipment. “I think it is a perfect fit. I believe they are going to be good neighbors,” Hummel said. The Kahr Group of manufacturing plants, operating at full capacity, will continue production in their current locations in Worcester, Mass., and Pillager, Minn. The business park land has been off the tax rolls since 1996, Pike Commissioner Matt Osterberg said. This deal will finally get that land generating taxes again. “This will go a long way in helping unemployment in Pike County,” Hummel said.