Kahr Arms set to open next month

| 04 Jun 2015 | 04:23

By Anya Tikka
— As soon as this July, Kahr Firearms will open their new offices on Well Road in Blooming Grove, said Frank Harris, vice president of sales and marketing at the group.

Work on the 620-acre lot has been ongoing since breaking ground in May 2013, and local crews are busy finishing the site.

“About 40 to 50 people are already employed,” Harris said.

When all plans come to fruition in to five years’ time, the number of employees is expected to reach 80 to 100.

The company is now based in Rockland County, N.Y., and has branches in Massachusetts and Minnesota, with a captive outlet in Los Angeles. New York's new strict gun laws passed after the Newtown massacre in 2014 prompted the company to seek a more gun-friendly state.

The company has a five-year plan for the Blooming Grove site. The first- and second-year plan is to get ready the 40,000-square-foot building, which will have corporate offices, engineering, research and development, an outlet store, a warehouse, and manufacturing, all in the same building. The third year will see some manufacturing. By third, fourth, and fifth year, manufacturing will be expanded.

What kinds of jobs can be expected here in Pike County?

“Regarding the workforce in the new building here, we would do training if necessary," Harris said. "If we hired someone for engineering or machining processes, we would want them to have some experience. The jobs available for locals are warehousing, manufacturing, and maintenance jobs around the site.”

A friendly climateA big incentive for the arms manufacturer was Pennsylvania's friendly business climate.

“We got a lot support in Pennsylvania about opening here," said Harris. "The lieutenant governor, state comptroller, and Pike County and Blooming Grove officials came to the groundbreaking. We had support on every level, in that they believe in what we stand for.”

He said a lot of people need firearms here in Pennsylvania for recreation, hunting, and target shooting.

"We want to support the local people here," he said. "We never had such support in New York State. We originally worked to build in Port Jervis/Deerpark, but then New York State passed the SAFE act, new legislation that had an effect on our business. We started looking for a state that has less legislation regarding gun manufacturing."

Although Harris supports some gun regulation, he said the SAFE Act was passed hastily.

"It has a lot of opposition even in New York State, and even among law enforcement, many of whom signed a petition saying they’re not going to enforce it," he said. "If you meet the legal requirements, what’s wrong? The main thing for us is SAFE Act has caused a lot of uncertainty. SAFE Act is written in such a way, it’s not easily understood. Maybe some people support the idea, but it should be clear. It’s the responsibility of the politicians.”

He continued, “There are already so many laws in the business. You’re not going to stop a criminal who is committed to murder. In America, there are 300 million guns already. No way can we make all those guns go away. If only criminals had guns we’d be in trouble because they don’t care about the law. Firearms are already heavily regulated by federal and state government.”

A welcoming countyPike County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Sullivan is solidly behind the project.

“I can tell you from EDA’s perspective, we’re having a lot of activity going on, and this is one of the most important projects," he said. "First, it’s utilizing the old Pike County Industrial Park. Kahr Firearms has purchased the whole 620 acres of the old industrial park. The county is receiving tax money instead of paying fees for the upkeep.”

When completed, he said, roughly 100 people will be employed locally, and the plant will further the idea of Pike County as high technology manufacturing county. One big reason he welcomes the new facility is the difference in manufacturing salaries and some other traditional Pike County salaries, which he said is substantial.

“When completed, the facility will run a CNC machine," he said. "It’s short for Computer Numerical Controlled machinery for creating parts, cutting metal, and after this make up the firearms.”

Four companies in Pike County already use CNC technology. It’s important, Sullivan said, “because it’s a type of manufacturing that allows manufacturing of very complex products.”

Justin Moon, the owner of Kahr Firearms, lives in the local area. He’s an American citizen who came here when he was four with his parents from South Korea.

"We will want to get other businesses to come to the site, other firearms related if possible," Harris said. "We have eight lots, and we’ll use two or three. So over the next 10 years, we’ll build the other buildings, and lease them to others.”