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Mike Mers and his Advanced Armament crew were at the Silencers Are Legal shoot in Dallas showing off the best of what AAC has to offer, but I was more interested in what’s going on behind the curtain. I visited AAC last year and had an inside peek behind the scenes, but things have changed dramatically since then. First the founder of AAC Kevin Brittingham left, then his right hand gal and plant manager Lynsey Thompson. AAC had been sold to Freedom Group not too much earlier, and these were the first indications of a shift in how AAC does business. But how have things changed on the inside since then? I asked Mike, who predictably didn’t want to say too much. But what he did say spoke volumes…

Traditionally, AAC had been run as slick as possible (much like our own blog here). No one seemed to have a single job, the guys in R&D could be seen running around filling orders and just about everyone seemed to be responsible for answering phones for sales issues. It was one of the ways that Kevin figured he could best keep competitive — driving down costs by keeping the overhead low.

But since Kevin left, Mike says there have been a number of new hires. Mike is in charge of sales at AAC, and he now has a full compliment of minions whose main job is to answer the phones.

It may not seem like a big deal but it’s a clear sign that Freedom Group is influencing AAC’s culture and business practices, bringing it more in line with the other behemoths of the firearms industry. The biggest question is whether the new hires will dilute the creative culture that has made AAC one of the best silencer manufacturers in the world, or whether the company can continue to innovate and meet demand for their products.

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  1. Wasn’t there a rather sizable clusterfuck involving AAC’s old management where they sued some guy for posting a disagreeable opinion about them online? I think it was about how they were terrible to work with and consequently were about to lose a major contract with FN. I guess change is good in this case.

  2. Frankly these changes shouldn’t impact the company much – not in a negative way, at least. Having dedicated support staff allows everybody else to just focus on doing their jobs and doing ’em consistently, without interruptions. Provided there haven’t been any other heavy-handed modifications AAC oughta be just fine.

    Also, that’s “complement of minions” instead of “compliment of minions.”

  3. I once worked for an engineering/manufacturing company that went from 28 employees to 12. Your description of R&D guys answering phones, and everyone having to multitask sounds very familiar. In my experience, having folks focused on their one job, instead of many jobs can only be a positive thing. Productivity generally goes up if you don’t have to change focus every 30 minutes chasing multiple tasks in multiple departments.

  4. Maybe AAC will emerge better because of it. Sometimes even the best companies need to get away from the small family mode to be better.

    • How can you possibly think “getting away from the small family mode to be better”? Do you not remember Thomas Jefferson’s warning? Can you not see what the large corporations have done to the economy? Large corporations in cahoots with the national banks and their owned minions in government have looted this country and sent our jobs overseas. Get a grip on yourself.

      • It’s called profit. Despite what anyone thinks, small business is not the backbone of the economy. Small family owned companies tend to get eaten or put out of business by larger corporations because they can’t compete, or because they can’t produce enough. To fix the production problem it seems as if they added more overhead to increase the profits. Profits pay for employee benefits like health care and vacation. No production means wasted profit potential, which means no benefits. I love when you small business is better, Main Street over Wall Street conservatives crawl out of the wood works. Corporations are the embodiment of capitalism, and capitalism is the backbone of America.

        So far Freedom Group is trying to make their purchase profitable. They are streamlining jobs and upping incoming sales by putting sales guys, not R&D guys on the phones. You can teach a salesperson about guns, you can’t teach an engineer how to sell. If AAC didn’t want this to happen, then they shouldn’t have put a for sale sign on the door.

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