*Pictured above from left: Rep. Adrian Smith, Jason Hornady, Steve Hornady, Sen. Deb Fischer and Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Whether it was the fact local residents mingled as far as the eye could see or the heartfelt remarks from dignitaries and Hornady family members themselves, it was like attending a family reunion as Hornady Manufacturing cut the ribbon on its state-of-the-art Hornady West production and distribution center in Grand Island, Neb., Friday, Oct. 26. Located at 8350 W. Old Potash Highway, six miles west of the company’s main facility, the 150,000-square-foot building was open to the public from 12-3 p.m.—and the people came in droves. Why? Because while Hornady is a preeminent name within the collective gun-owning, hunting and shooting community, it also has been a true household name in Grand Island for nearly 70 years.
Addressing the open-house crowd, President Steve Hornady, whose father Joyce Hornady started the company in 1949, noted the family business was bursting at the seams and had to expand just to continue doing business. “Our investment is saying we are committed,” he said, referring to the company, its employees and the community. “This is what we do. … and we plan to be here for the rest of our lives.”
That’s some good news if you are one of Hornady Manufacturing’s 500-plus employees or a local business that benefits from the company’s local economic impact—one of the things Hornady said makes him most proud. It was impressive to hear him share that over the past five years alone, the company has paid $230 million in employee wages, $40 million in employee 401(k) plans and $23 million in employee health care benefits.
Celebrating Hornady Manufacturing’s expansion were special guest speakers including Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen, who appreciatively acknowledged its investment in their city. “I think sometimes we take that for granted, he said. “Hornady is one of the most giving organizations around, and it does not have employee turnover.” For an anecdote, he mentioned how the company once gave its employees annual bonuses in the form of $2 bills, which flooded the community and went far to show the Hornady family’s economic impact.
Other Nebraska dignitaries included Rep. Adrian Smith (3rd District), U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and Gov. Pete Ricketts—all NRA supporters, by the way.
“Hornady makes a product known literally around the world—and I can say, ‘That’s my district,’” said Rep. Smith, an NRA Life member. Looking around the facility in awe, he asked, “Wow, what did you do before?” He got a laugh from the crowd when he added, “Perhaps the county assessor is here to help celebrate your growth and expansion as Hornady continues to invest in our community.”
Sen. Deb Fisher, the senior senator from Nebraska, said, “It is truly an honor to celebrate a family from Nebraska that has values we all share. We don’t see too many businesses that have this length of service—people stepping up to take care of employees and their families.”
The message from the final speaker, NRA Life member Gov. Pete Ricketts, was right in step with the spirit of the American flags hanging throughout the facility. “Nebraska loves the Second Amendment, right?” he asked. “God Bless you for all the great work you’ve done here.” Ricketts praised the third-generation family business by highlighting an additional stat: Over the past five years, the company also has donated $1.7 million to state and local charities.
Looking to the future, company Vice President Jason Hornady said, “We think 70 years is a pretty good start. I’m the third generation, and the fourth generation is in this room.” Clearly, while Nebraska’s state motto is “Equality before the law,” “Nebraska is for Hornady” is also fitting.
For just a few examples of the recognition Hornady Manufacturing has received for its innovative products over nearly seven decades, it has won multiple prestigious NRA Golden Bullseye awards from NRA Publications and in October was named the 2018 Manufacturer of the Year by the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers—for the eighth time. Company president Steve Hornady also has been honored with multiple awards, including being named the 2013 NRA Golden Bullseye Pioneer of the Year and the 2018 NRA Distinguished Corporate Executive during the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in May. Also important to note, while the Hornady family business gives back to its local community, Steve Hornady also is an NRA donor and member of the President’s Founders Club of the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum, working alongside the NRA and other leaders in the collective hunting community to save hunting’s future.
Adding to the fun of the informal atmosphere, open-house tours were self-guided so visitors could go at their own pace, assisted by video stations that walked you through the manufacturing, inspection, packaging and shipping process of all things Hornady. The video playing at the final station may have been the best of all as it featured footage of company founder Joyce Hornady reflecting on his company’s success from what I am guessing was filmed in the late 1970s.
“Accuracy doesn’t just happen,” he said. Even when you have it, it can easily slip away. You have to make it happen with tools, materials, machines, bullets and with a rifle. ... 1/10,000th of an inch and a tenth of a grain at a time. ...” No wonder the company’s tagline is: “Accurate. Deadly. Dependable.”
Before I left, I glanced at the huge empty areas in the back of the facility set aside for the storage of products yet to come. I wondered how long it would take for that space to be filled judging by Hornady’s full-speed-ahead production history and the fact its business has doubled, and doubled again, and doubled again. Then I realized it might take a while after recalling Steve Hornady’s comment about how the new facility is so big that it took 30 million pounds of concrete. Maybe the family can get a few years out of it after all.
Fast Fact: The site of Hornady West once housed the former 320-acre Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant. Guess who used to train the guard force there: marksmanship instructor Joyce Hornady, who, of course, went on to found one of the most prominent companies in our all-American firearms industry.