Six months ago today Hurricane Sandy slammed into coastal New Jersey, leaving devastation in its wake. Amongst its victims: lever gun manufacturer Henry Repeating Arms. Henry’s factory was hit head on, with waves crashing into the side of its plant and wind tearing at its roof. The day after the storm, Henry’s CEO toured the five-year-old facility, taking stock of the damage. “The storm blew off a major section of our roof,” Anthony Imperato told TTAG. “There was three feet of water in the factory; it covered 100 machine centers. There was a sinkhole in one of the buildings.” Imperato’s a man of few words, all of them carefully chosen. I asked him if Sandy harshed his mellow . . .
“I was calm,” Imperato said. “I guess it’s because I live with the daily stress of running a factory . . . At the time all I could think about what had to be done to get us back in production. Maybe I’ll have PTSD later.”
And maybe not. Applying his characteristic sang froid, Imperato oversaw the recovery operation, including major structural repairs and changing or rewiring the low-profile motors powering their machines. None of which was cheap. “We have an open [insurance] claim of several million dollars.”
Luckily, Henry’s ammunition stores survive the hurricane intact. ‘Cause Henry has LOTS of .22’s. “We test fire 10 rounds per gun. We make 300 thousand guns per year . . . So we buy a healthy amount of all types of ammo, Federal, Winchester, Remington and others.”
Six weeks later, the first pre-fired new firearm left the factory. In January, Henry Repeating Arms had shipped 27k firearms to grateful gun dealers. And the hits keep coming. “People ask me if we’re still in business,” Imperator said. “We’re not just back, we’re shipping record numbers of guns.”
If another hurricane hits Henry (which hardly ever happens) the manufacturer won’t have all its eggs in a Garden State-shaped basket. “We’re going to start buildings guns in Rice Lake, Wisconsin,” Imperato reveals.
I didn’t have the heart to point out that Wisconsin is prey to blizzards, blazing heat and tornados. Still, if anyone can cope with whatever Mother Nature throws down, it’s Imperato. The man’s rock solid and ready to rock and roll. Kinda like Henry’s guns, really.