Kevin Brittingham, the executive behind a wide range of innovative products produced by SIG SAUER, has left the building. In an exclusive interview with TTAG, Brittingham revealed the tensions leading to his departure from the gunmaker’s U.S. division and his plans to start an entirely new firearms company. First, a little history . . .
Brittingham began his rise to the top of the U.S. firearms industry as the original founder of silencer maker Advanced Armament Corp. In 2009, The Freedom Group (now Remington Outdoor) purchased AAC to capitalize on the company’s industry leading products and commercial success.
The Freedom Group put Brittingham in golden handcuffs, but Brittingham chafed under Remington’s corporate culture, to say the least. The partnership ended in a rancorous lawsuit that left Kevin a wealthy man — with unrealized ambitions.
Roughly two years ago, Kevin signed on with SIG SAUER, bringing a team of heavy hitters with him (e.g., Ethan Lessard, Robbie Johnson, Jason Imhoff, Lindsay Bunch, John Hollister and many more). The plan: Kevin and his band would make cool stuff, positioning SIG as the go-to company for innovative firearms designs and engineering.
According to Kevin, his work got bogged down in SIG SAUER’s slower-paced more conservative corporate culture. “I offered the last two years to work for a dollar a year if I had control of my [projects],” Kevin said. Despite this difference in approach, Brittingham’s team produced and launched SIG SAUER’s silencer line at last year’s SHOT Show.
“We shipped a couple million dollars [worth of silencers],” Brittingham said. “We had close to ten million in back orders.” According to Brittingham, production lagged behind demand, as the company pursued other priorities. “The #1 complaint with SIG silencers: you can’t get ’em. We’ve shipped three of twelve silencers we developed.”
Once again, Brittingham has found it difficult to work within the constraints of a larger company. His last few months have been particularly contentious to the point where there’s some question as to whether Kevin quit or was fired. “He made it impossible for them not to fire him” one person close to the situation remarked. “He hasn’t set foot in the office in months.” Kevin admitted to TTAG that he hasn’t been physically present for some time, but claimed he’d continued to contribute from his home in Georgia and elsewhere.
Post-SIG, Brittingham’s returning to his entrepreneurial roots. “I’m going to attract the best people, I’m going to start a company and we’re going to be dedicated to being the best. I tried it with Remington and I tried with a different scenario with SIG — it all ended the same way.”
Brittingham tells TTAG that his new venture has “tens of millions of dollars” behind it, including some of his own cash. “I started AAC with nothing” he said, “this time I have millions of dollars behind me.”
Despite his exit from SIG, Brittingham has some kind words for his ex-employer. “The average worker at SIG is smarter than anyone else in the industry. Everyone I worked with on a day-to-day basis was amazing. Even the general counsel and head of compliance — normally roadblocks in a gun company — were a joy to work with. If they treat them right and invest in the future SIG could make some awesome stuff.”
We reached out to SIG SAUER for a statement about Brittingham leaving the company. SIG’s PR rep stated that they don’t comment on the circumstances surrounding a specific employee’s departure. He added that SIG SAUER will “continue to bring the highest quality firearms to the American market” and remain committed to the silencer category.