Monday, January 30th, 2017
2017 SHOT show – A business perspective
Lets face it the SHOT show for all of those that attend is basically Disney for all things that go pew-pew. Add to that all the toys that connect, light up and look damn cool. I won’t try to set myself up on a pedestal and suggest I am all above that and that I am just business focused all of the time because let me tell you: there were more than a few weapon systems that have my hot sticky hand prints all over at the show…..not least the full autos, long range rifle systems, belt fed machine guns and 40mm launchers that I had the chance to get behind on the Monday Range day. But in fairness I did have a mission and goal very clearly in mind in attending the 2017 SHOT show
I have made it clear that for me the SHOT show is all about making connections. As a startup we recognize that we can not achieve our end goal solely under own steam, no company can. It’s about making connections and talking through problems and learning from others lessons learned and taking on board their words of advice and then determining the best ways forward
The shot show represents manufactures and suppliers from all over the world and the great thing about the show is that it offers open access to those big players and companies who can offer advice and words of support to guide a small up-and-coming operation.
There were major opportunities for me to connect with top level media, business development and marketing directors. To have the chance to speak directly with VPs and Presidents of some significant companies who were open and amiable to conversation is something that their gate keepers generally prevent out in the everyday real world. As it is early in our connection so I believe it would be inappropriate to comment on whom I actually did chat with at the show but for sure there were representatives of some of the larger manufacturers of firearms and scopes to name a couple of areas. It has to be the only show where presidents and VP’s are all available to chat. They are all very approachable and easily engage in conversations. I was genuinely impressed that after their arduous days on the stands they were still actively engaged in our conversations and in many instances were thrilled to hear what we were trying to achieve
After sharing the over view of our shooting facility I bounced the question toseveral of these major players and asked simply whether they would be able to offer written words of support or words of awareness for our efforts in establishing a shooting facility in Ontario to support both the average shooter, the industry and sport in general, to ensure that we move forward in our rights to own and use firearms. I don’t believe I came across one member there, as you would expect, that didn’t say ‘yes we would love to support that cause’ in some way and I look forward over the next few weeks in following up to connect back with them and finding out how exactly we can get those words of support and words of awareness out to the industry such that it’s an added level of gravity to our cause in setting up this facility.
It could be questioned as to what level of importance a simple letter of support could be. Well, the support is key but it also lends weight to our efforts. When working with our township it offers the weight that there will be industry excitement, jobs, competitions, sales, tourism. For the industry members it helps them understand that if the ‘big boys’ have seen the over view and have been allowed a peek behind the curtain then there must be something of interest; and for investors they understand that key players would not become involved if this wasn’t real and happening. There are always some out there that instantly jump to ‘scam’ when something like this is announced; which is disappointing but in balance I get it. We are breaking new ground for the shooting industry in Canada and so yes I would agree the odds are stacked against us but this is an all-in effort to succeed. To me the large industry players offering advice, words of support and awareness is a way to legitimize our goals and effort and if we can leverage that into a sound bite or news segment, interview or investor conversation then I believe the connection is well worth it.
As a side bar, amazingly, according to my cell phone, I managed to cover just over 9 miles on Tuesday and Wednesday. While moving through the heaving crowds I did manage to meet and chat with some key figures in the industry and sport I also happened to bump into some personal heroes and icons in the shooting world – which by the way I wont pretend that I was absolutely thrilled with and didn’t pretend to hide my enthusiasm…..I have never said I was cool !
During this ‘march of penguins’ through the show stands I happened to bump into several folks I knew and in one conversation the question was asked of “what was the highlight” moment for me. A tough question but it came down to probably two instances:
The invite out to the range day at Nellis AFB by Cadex Defence has to be one highlight. Settling in and being able to comfortably hit the ~650m steel with their new Kraken multi-bore rifle system with Nightforce glass on top and then also out to the 950m steel with a Barrett and Schmidt Bender scope was a high for me. Having too many years in military sighting system development and manufacture I have a personal love of those two scope manufacturers and the quality they offer……oh and on top of that did I mention having Rob Furlong and Todd Hodnett spotting was a massive personal highlight. Thank you gents, you helped me not look an idiot out there haha
The Canadian Industry evening organised by CSAAA & CSSA has to be the real highlight though from a business perspective. It was my first time attending this event which was very well organised by the team. For me it offered me the direct face to face opportunity to meet and share what we are trying to set up with Canada’s most influential industry players. Again I was really impressed that everyone there was very approachable and open. I’m sure the established industry folks were looking forward to meeting long time friends and acquaintances but they all were very gracious. I was genuinely surprised in a couple of instances where they remarked that they had been in conversations about Premier Shooting Center within their own circles and that it was good to put the face against the name. The CSAAA & CSSA and all those within the team that set up the event have to be congratulated as I fully understand the work that goes into such things. It is appreciated.
Ultimately I came from the SHOT show with several connections who genuinely understood our goal for the shooting range and I look forward to following up here at some point with any good news events and details percolating from the 2017 SHOT show
Just as a humorous foot note I would share that I had the inevitable flight delay coming out of Las Vegas which caused me to miss my connector flight in Calgary. Apparently nothing happens in Calgary airport after 12.30am and everything closes up and the whole airport is quite desolate; with the exception of the occasional lost soul in similar hold pattern. I managed to sort out a good bunk to catch some sleep and I thought that this location spelled out how I approach life and business…..maybe some life lessons are worth the journey…even to Calgary
Sunday, January 29th, 2017
The Access Roads
It is funny that in this journey to establish the shooting facility the topics that had been expected to be roadblocks happened to fall into place so far and then of course the reciprocal situation, where the things that could be ‘taken for granted’ turn out to be very difficult or lengthy
In this case, I must admit, I thought perhaps there would be some level of push-back from the local councils but it is fair to say that they have been absolutely superb and supportive for PSC. Right from the front office; the planning department; engineering department and so on, right up to the various levels of authority. We engaged them all the way with very open, very honest dialogue and they reciprocated; seeing that this is a positive event for local employment, the various associated sundry contractors and businesses, local military and LEO Vets and the spin-off beneficiaries of tourism.
The sting in the tail here is that the council, no matter how supportive, is held to local By-laws and detail. In this case it is the unassumed access road by-laws.
Currently the ideal road access direction would be to utilize what is now an unassumed road which is in some disrepair because of lack of care over the last 30 years, which doesn’t portray the image that we want to convey to our membership base. If the range is to offer a polished, elevated feel we want this experience to start when you turn off the main highway.
We have had discussions with the Kawartha Lakes Township engineering department but no matter how much they want to support our efforts they are held, of course, by the rules and regulations of that region. So by regulations it suggests that we have to assume the roadway; build a two lane road with culverts and appropriate camber, slope, minimum curvature of corners, intersection details and a full base and top surface material compaction and thickness, all to the Ministry of transportation standards.
Due to the distance involved; 1300 acres of acoustic barrier does mean a couple of kilometers from the main highway, this equates to a very expensive affair. Therefore, working with our urban planners as well an engineering company, Skelton Brumwell, there has been a full investigation to understand the current roadway construction
We have this week, received the results of the core drilling that was performed along the road length as well as the associated report of drainage, topography and sub-surface constituents down to bed rock depth that can offer a full picture of the current situation. From that of course we can develop a mitigation plan and cost estimates. In plain English; we need to find a way forward that satisfies the Township requirements but does not represent a cost prohibitive deliverable where nobody wins. Ultimately the plan of action is to ensure that the roadway is safe and navigable for both our patrons and emergency vehicles and projects the image that matches our facility and at a cost point that can be sustained.
As soon as we have an acceptable way forward between us (cost and functionality) and the township (the by-laws that they are held to) we can continue to keep the land owners in the loop. We are in reasonably frequent communications but we feel keeping connected with all key players is important – ie no surprises. With that said our next sit down update with the land owners collective is on Feb 9th, At the very least we want to share that we are a force moving forward and definitely not wasting their time. It is tough to get them all in the same room at the same meeting so its important for us to ensure they are hear the same information and direction. We definitely do not want any rug pulled from below our feet at this stage simply due to bad communication.
Our next step then is to meet with the township offices of Kawartha Lakes, to which I will be inviting Mayor Letham should he have time. I do not think we will gain any resolution on the matter at that time but it does put a stake in the ground.
In any business there are cost cutting exercises of course but throughout communications with the township we have made it clear that this is not so much a cost reduction effort, rather, the road issue represents a turning point of financial capability to our project and we have made that clear to all. With the best intensions all round, if this gets out of control it could kill the opportunity and nobody wants to see that.
Keep following along and connect with us here. Should you have any comments on any areas of the facility build that we have not touched on or you feel needs more information we would love to expand on any and all areas that we are able – you just have to ask
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
THE YEAR AHEAD
It seems as if we’ve been off the grid and quiet for a while due to business travel, taking a break over Christmas and recently, the SHOT show attendance. However, now the New Year has come and gone and it’s time to get back to the grindstone.
I wouldn’t disparage anyone for their January 1st New year’s resolutions as I’m sure they have all earnest in mind for their goals at that time. However, my belief is that we all have the opportunity to set goals and work towards those goals on a daily basis – a new year’s day every day so to speak. For the Premier Shooting Center this means that every day we re-group and re-focus on the goals towards establishing the range facility. It energizes us and engages all those involved.
With this said we have a renewed focused energy towards key goals. We have made it open news that we have 1300 acres ear marked for this facility with a deal worked out with the owners. The land offers so many positive features that will promote the success of the facility – access routes; geography and topography; acoustic barriers; cost; and a township leadership that supports the efforts in their region.
So, our primary goals are simple and obvious: secure the funding for the land: and fully define zoning requirements.
With regard to the zoning, we have the complete picture of the various surveys, acoustic requirements, lead mitigation aspects etc etc but beyond this we have mentioned before about our efforts of understanding what is required and what we are able to do, in regard to the road access. Just this last week we received our final Engineering report from the bore hole samples taken along the existing un-assumed access road and together with our friends in Skelton Brumwell Engineers who are compiling the data package and our urban planning friends in MHBC we intend on having a conversation within the next 4 weeks with the township planning dept. to present our proposal.
The road represents a major cost implication and as such a major turning point in the project. We want to project our best efforts in working alongside of the bylaws of the region but at the same time we know that the township appreciate that each circumstance should be evaluated by its own merits in order to be successful for everyone.
In regard to the primary goal of securing the complete funding for the land we will be contacting several key interests within the shooting industry in this quarter to share our vision to support the industry, the sport and the enthusiast. Our hopes are to also begin our more public awareness program. Part of this will see advertising, reports, interviews, direct contacts and simple outreach to the general shooter. For the industry players and club level board members there will likely be an invite to attend an all access meeting that offers the opportunity to gain full insight into the business model.
So for the New Year expect to see more updates to fill the gaps as events unfold and mature. Follow along with this journey and pledge to secure the land and set that first shovel in the ground of this development.
We have spent over 3 years working the back channels on this project so we very much look forward to becoming far more evident in the market place with a continued commitment of being equally open and visible in 2017
We appreciate the support and well wishes