Sturgis ammo firm aims high

James Mason, a worker at Jamison International in Sturgis, feeds brass slugs into a metal press, one of the steps in making brass casings for ammunition cartridges. (Journal file)

STURGIS - Jamison International, the small, Sturgis-based ammunition maker, is about to become a much bigger company.

Jamison recently bought the assets - 27 truckloads of machines and equipment - from PMC Ammunition of Boulder City, Nev.

Financially troubled PMC had gone out of business. Jamison partner Marc Jamison was quick to point out that Jamison did not buy the PMC business, only its assets.

Last week, the first truckloads of equipment began arriving at Jamison's facility at Sturgis Industrial Park. Jamison recently expanded into a second building, and plans are in the works to build, in stages, a 70-by-450-foot addition.

Jamison International started in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1996 and moved to Sturgis in 2001.

"It was a good move," Jamison said. "There's a good work ethic up here, and the business climate for our industry was bad in California. Sometimes, you couldn't even rent a building if you had anything to do with guns."

As of Thursday, Jamison had 15 workers, but the number is expected to rise soon. The company plans to have as many as 60 employees by the end of 2007.

The deal to buy out PMC did not include any of its customer accounts. However, official Paul Jannuzzo said that Jamison will have no problem finding a market for its new production capacity.

"None at all. There's a war going on," Jannuzzo said.

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have increased military demand for ammunition. As big manufacturers retool to fill military contracts, the market for sport and law enforcement ammunition has opened up for companies large and small, he said.

Jannuzzo serves as chief operating officer and corporate counsel to a related company, CheyTac Associates, maker of military and small arms. Marc Jamison's partner in Jamison International, Corey Kupersmith, is the owner of CheyTac.

CheyTac, based in Arco, Idaho, produces advanced ammunition, small arms and ballistic computer systems for the military, law enforcement and civilian markets. Its flagship product is a line of high-octane military sniper rifles -weapons that are accurate at distances of more than 2,000 yards.

CheyTac's sniper rifle fires a particular type of .408-caliber ammunition. Sturgis-based Jamison International manufactures the brass shell casing for the .408. It's one of only two companies that make the .408.

Jannuzzo is the former chief operating officer and corporate counsel at the U.S. unit of handgun giant Glock. Based in Atlanta, Jannuzzo operates part time in Sturgis.

The PMC deal is the largest of Jamison's three acquisitions in the past year. The company also bought the assets of Freedom Arms, based in Wyoming, and Lost River Ballistics, now based in Idaho.

The Lost River acquisition included two computer-controlled metal lathes that make high-end bullets.

Currently, Jamison International's Sturgis facility specializes in making brass shell casings. However, with the new equipment, the company will make the transition into manufacturing bullets and cartridges.

Among the assets are 76 metal works presses as well as machinery for producing brass ammunition cases. Also, a complete case-loading production line will have capacity for loading a quarter-million ammunition rounds per week.

Ammunition-manufacturing equipment is hard to find. The machines are so durable that nobody is making new ones, Jannuzzo said. When the PMC machinery became available, Jamison beat out competitors from Brazil, Europe and the United States that wanted to buy it.

In a news release announcing the acquisition, Dale Hansen and Dan Mayer, co-chairmen of Sturgis Industrial Expansion Corp., said they are excited about the significant expansion of Jamison's Sturgis manufacturing operation.

They said the growth of businesses such as Jamison, as well as newcomers from out-of-state, has a positive effect on the Sturgis and Northern Hills economy.

"We look forward to Jamison's expansion and the new jobs that will be created," Mayer said. The Sturgis Industrial Expansion Corp. has had success recruiting gun and ammunition makers from throughout the United States.

Gun maker Dakota Arms moved to Sturgis in the mid 1980s. CorBon Bullet Co. moved to Sturgis from Detroit in 1995. It has since acquired Glaser Safety Slugs, a maker of specialized ammunition.

Bruce Bowen Co. makes a high-end line of shotguns for trap shooters. It moved to Sturgis from Nebraska. The company has a side business, called 100 Straight Products, that distributes trap shooting accessories.

Rapid City, meanwhile, is home to rifle maker HS-Precision, Black Hills Ammunition Maintenance, A&A Engraving, Ultramax Ammunition and other firms.

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