FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2024
Jason Hornady -generation three of the Hornady Manufacturing family.

QA Outdoors 
So an intimate little party for 2500 or so friends this past weekend ... 

Jason Hornady
There were 3000 redeemed tickets that were coming. And then, as you know, things just happen. We had planned for 3000 and  2500 or so were able to be there.

QA Outdoors 
As one of the “No Shows” I hope that doesn't earn me a spot on the the enemies list, because you guys do know how to throw a party. You've thrown the “Zombies in the Heartland” shooting competition and all other events. Hornadys not known for half-way fun.

Jason Hornady
Well, this wasn't a command performance for anybody. But it was our opportunity to show appreciation to everybody that's participated.

This is not about being part of the Hornady family as blood relatives. It's part of being the “Hornady family” as the overarching group of people we have relationships with. We wanted to make sure that everybody remembers this one. It's funny because as I told my dad, my best friend in Grand Island called me up the other day, and said, “What can I do to help you?”

And I said, “starting Sunday morning and for the rest of our lives, if I bring up hosting a party, you slap the s**t out of me.”

QA Outdoors 
Well, come on, 100 is the next big one. And..If invited, I  plan to attend. But I'm like a musician at a concert series…”scheduled to appear” because of my age. But you’re the young one of the Hornady family, you plan on being there, right?

Jason Hornady
might attend. But who knows, it might, it might be my kid’s problem, or, who knows who's problem?

QA Outdoors 
You are generation three of the family. And as a company, Hornady’s come a long way since your granddad started in a garage in the 1940s. What have you learned? You grew up knowing there was a successful family business. What's that like?

Jason Hornady
It's interesting, because it's not something you think about growing up. I mean, it’s just what your family did. And you know, there are a lot of restrictions on what kids can - and can’t - do in manufacturing operations, and so I was outside, mowing the lawn and and other miscellaneous chores around here.

I wasn't allowed to work in the factory until I was 18. It's what dad did, and we reaped the benefit. I mean, my dad had a cool job and, and I would come out and see my dad, my grandmother and my aunt and all the employees that, of course, I grew up around here.

And that’s one thing that’s interesting…you know this factory smells the same. It’s been ingrained in my brain since I walked around here holding the two fingers of my grandfather, my grandfather, my other grandfather worked here. They used to walk around in the factory and I would toddle around after them. And it was just the way life was.

We have a family policy that you have to go get 10 years worth of relevant experience before working here. It wasn't until I was A) looking for jobs out of college and B) taking entry level jobs out of college that I started appreciating, you know, what a family business can be.

I did 15 years before I came back to the family business. And by then, I had a real appreciation for how things should and shouldn't go. Obviously, my dad and my aunt and everybody here were already doing great. I just came in and helped.

QA Outdoors 
Once you stepped outside the family business and went into those entry level jobs, what did you immediately start to notice that was different? What did you pick up well from being outside looking in?

Jason Hornady
So I, I was a manufacturer's rep, Jim. So I've worked for over 60 different vendors calling on a hodgepodge of different customer bases, from archery and fishing and marine, to camping, to what we do here. You certainly learn a lot about public ownership, private equity ownership, And then family ownership, or or an independent. 

The one thing you pick up in this kind of stuff is that it’s always somebody who really cares that transcends through the whole organization.  It's that caring - and and the other thing is, if you treat people the way you want to be treated, they will take care of you to the end of time.

QA Outdoors
A pretty valuable lesson for all of us. A lot of times, we feel like we don’t really have anything to do with the world. You know what I mean…but every individual changes the one way or another because “the world” is wrapped around them.

Jason Hornady
Yep.I had a guy give me a golf reference the other day. He's like, Well, you can pay attention and hit the little ball, or if you don't pay attention, you'll hit the big ball. He was talking about Earth.

We're trying to make sure we hit the golf ball and and do the right thing. That's the other thing, Jim: what’s been instilled in everybody around here -by my father and his father before him- is just do the right thing and we’ll get this whole thing sorted.

QA Outdoors 
The smartest businessman I've ever known told me everything boils down to one thing: It's always right to do right. It's never right to do wrong. He said, If you can separate and discriminate what's right and what's not right, it will always be all right.

Jason Hornady
Another one I caught the other day  is also really good: being nice costs you nothing. There are times I wish I had been nicer, but that's something you learn as you get older.

QA Outdoors 
If I'd done that, I wouldn't have to start so many of my conversations with old friends, with, you know, “I'm sorry about that time…”  I came from the the 80s era of network television, that’s when you led by volume and intimidation. It wins you no loyalty along the line, but some will cheer when you’re headed down. Hornady, on the other hand, has never had any reputation other than being a family business run by a family that cares about what they’re doing.

How do you engender that to the people that work with you and under you?  I hesitate to use “under you” because I believe you think of people working with you.

Jason Hornady
This is  a big team. The best way I like to say that is there's not, there's not an operation here that is more important than their families. They're working to live, not living to work. 

The other part of this that  we sell fun. So you let your employees have fun with the products we make. So we try to encourage people to shoot. We try to give them opportunities to do this stuff, you know, for those who are interested. Then you give them opportunities to have a voice. Then you do your best to reap all the rewards and then share them across the board.  

We have a pretty assertive bonus and profit sharing program. Every employee gets the exact same percentage of their W2 and that’s usually on June 15. So I’ll tell you that between June 15 and June 23, it was a pretty big, pretty fun time for all our employees.

QA Outdoors 
Well, I was a picture from the factory floor of everybody gathered around for  Bonus Day. Then you followed that up with an intimate little party for 2500 people, right?

Jason Hornady
We made sure we told everybody that we're just doing this one. Next year's Bonus Day might not be as exciting.

QA Outdoors
What struggles have the Hornadys seen along the way - that you've had to deal with over your portion of the 75 years?

Jason Hornady
My dad certainly has dealt with far more of the struggles than I have.

His work started even before my grandfather was killed…he had to navigate all of that. Then, you know, some of the downturns of the 80s, then we started seeing our first “surge” which was when Bill Clinton got elected. So he’s had it far harder than me. For me, the most difficult things are anything outside things that we can’t control…commodities pricing going haywire; some of the political issues we’ve been back and forth on. I

He likes to remind me very often that all of our challenges we can deal with, our self inflicted challenges. It’s the external challenges that we don't control that we have to be mindful of and do our best to try and think about those, the rest of stuff you can fix.

We, like everybody in a hobby industry, have had some unprecedented growth at various times from unforeseen circumstances. Nobody saw what was going to happen during COVID and all that stuff.

We actually got a couple death threats that we weren't shipping enough ammo during the whole COVID thing. Those are certainly interesting.

But for the most part, customers have always kind of understood. As paranoid as some of us are about things like “we’re all hoarding ammo to raise the prices” or “the government’s buying everything” those rumors that were spread at various times that weren’t true..most of the time customers kind of shrugged and said “OK, well, do your best.”

And that’s what we did. We told them what we were doing and we told them “we’ll make more every day, so everybody should just keep shooting, because we promise we’ll keep making more.”

But you know the truth is, despite the challenges, it’s been so much fun that that I should pinch myself every day.

QA Outdoors 
Wo you see anything coming on the horizon? You guys are pretty good at forecasting and seeing what's coming. What what do you see as big issues for the industry in general, going forward?


 

Jason Hornady
Certainly the industry popularity has swing pretty good. It’s like a pendulum. The thing I never saw coming was the popularity of shooting and hunting swinging to the positive during the COVID issues. All of a sudden, people wanted to hunt again. Some were afraid they might have to do it to live, you know we went through those weird times. There were more firearms sold to the shooting public in those three years than any of us ever fathomed.


Now you hear lots of other different things.., like the Surgeon General making political commentary and that political angle - that whoever seems to be in control in our government, that that is the biggest challenge. It’s a challenge when it’s positive. It’s a challenge when it’s negative. But the thing is, it doesn’t take much to make some very difficult regulations. So we have to figure out how to make sure we keep our people busy. That’s the same problem everybody in the industry has.

We worry about more restrictions on the materials we can use.

We worry about more restrictions on firearms people can purchase. It’s just navigating with a lot of people who don’t necessarily understand what it is we do -and don’t do.

QA Outdoors 
Several years ago, my first conversation I had with your dad was heated. Partially because I didn't know what I didn't know. I went to an NSSF seminar talking about ammunition, and suggested, “why don't we just take the moral high ground and say, in five years, we won't be using lead in any ammunition?”

Sounds like a noble idea, but that's not really doable, is it?

Jason Hornady
No, that is not doable. I can see why that conversation would get heated. Lead is absolutely the best bullet making material on the planet. And that's that.

Certainly that one is a concern, because it is the best bullet making material there is. There is no substitute that makes stuff better at a price that’s reasonable. Nothing. Trust me, we’ve tried, and tried, and we try all the time.

QA Outdoors 
So, the science of the matter settles the issue. I mean, it just, it just works?

Jason Hornady
Physics is physics; math is math. But, honestly, gold and silver make pretty good bullets and a couple of other metals, but I don’t think anyone would appreciate those prices.

QA Outdoors 
The “Cantafordium” Bullet finally is a reality. But it has to be frustrating. You talk about science and physics, but you have to try to counter the heat of emotion. Because can trump logic

In fact, when you get into a discussion with some people, they just won’t accept any answer other than what they think the answer is. How do you deal with that?


 

Jason Hornady
Well, a lot of deep breaths - and remembering that being nice is is free, but also just being emphatic in in the position.

I listened to somebody the other day say, “you just don't understand, I'm I'm shunned in my neighborhood because I'm a gun owner.”

Okay, well, you know what -I might be too, but I don't care. It’s what I like. It's what I do. It’s what I am. It's hard to articulate some of that because some people watch too many movies, too many news reports and too many TV shows. And they think that’s all the way it works. But it’s not.

QA Outdoors 
The problem with common sense is it's not all that common anymore. So what’s on the horizon, what’s the new technology? Is there a new “super bullet” a new caliber? You know, tell me what you’re working on.

Jason Hornady
You know, I can't tell you that kind of stuff.

QA Outdoors 
And you know…I have to ask (laughing).

Jason Hornady
That's one of the most fun things. We consider ourselves a new products company. We have a team of people; actually its teams of people -it’s all of our employees. Some of the best ideas come from random places. You know, we all sit around and talk about “that’s cool…let’s try it.”

And you know what..you just have to have a decent batting average. There are a couple of things on the horizon..and I’ll say you probably will want to interview us again.

QA Outdoors
We’re always ready to do that. Because you’re always fun to talk with. So we’ll just say “happy birthday” and agree to pick this up at another time.

 

Jason Hornady 
Well, on behalf of Hornady Manufacturing and everybody here, we sure appreciate the interest and appreciate you.

 
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