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Speed, selection and service: a look inside RSR Wholesale Guns.

"Give the customer what other wholesalers are not" is the motto of Winter Park, Fla.Wholesale Guns Inc. based RSR Wholesale Guns, Inc.

There isn't any cryptic marketing secret hidden in this philosophy, but in less than 15 years of business this firearms wholesaler has become one of the major distributors in the shooting industry. However, unlike some of the other major distributors, RSR is dedicated totally toward firearms and shooting-related accessories - no fishing or camping supplies. The question which soon arises is: What else are they doing different?

RSR Wholesale Guns was created during the late 1970s, a period when the entire shooting industry was enjoying good profits and increasing sales. It was also a time when conventional distributors became somewhat fat and unresponsive to the needs of their customers. Supplies at many manufacturers' plants were low and products were sometimes hard to obtain.

The people who started RSR recognized this and built their business to answer the needs of the firearms merchandiser - speed, selection, and service.

RSR was the first firearms wholesaler to advertise same-day shipping, and they have used this principle as a cornerstone of their company. It is especially important today, with the economic recession affecting all aspects of American businesses. This quick turn around time means that dealers can keep their inventory low without worrying about being caught in an out-of-stock situation.

Bob Steger, President of RSR, when asked what advice he could give his customers and gun dealers as to how to best succeed in a recession replied, "Turns! EveryOne must turn inventory more frequently. With same-day shipping there is no need for dealers to maintain a big inventory because they can et any item replaced right away."

It's called "getting back to basics" and like some manufacturers in the industry, most notably Smith & Wesson, RSR Wholesale is one firm that believes good basic business management will succeed. Steger pointed out that many wholesalers' profits have diminished over the past 12 months, but theirs have not.

Managing The Business

The sale of firearms in the sporting market is dependent on customers' discretionary income, and in economic hard times there isn't a lot of that around. The opening of deer hunting to handgunners in many states has helped increase the sale of heavy caliber handguns and the sales figures demonstrate that fact.

As for Smith & Wesson's decision to drop 70 models from their catalog, Steger applauded that decision and stated he openly admired them for it. "They're business people. They'll make money," he said.

He felt their decision to et back to marketing the basic product was an example for everyone to follow, including merchandisers who must pay attention to how often they turn products. Turning inventory is exactly what the 132 employees of RSR are in business to help their dealers do.

RSR has approximately 43 salesmen, and six warehouses. These warehouses are extremely important to RSR's operation because they are also sales facilities as well as stocking warehouses.

From an origin in Rochester, N.Y., RSR has built six stocking warehouses in Winter Park, Fla., Sparks, Nev., Grand Prairie, Texas, Milwaukee, Wis., and Bellevue, Wash.

Besides the marketing basics, Steger also feels their salesmen are more aggressive than the competitors'. This combined with competitive pricing has made RSR one of the most rapidly growing wholesalers in the business.

RSR handles all the major product lines, but 60 percent of their business is handguns. As such, most of the product shipped through these Six regional warehouses have names like Smith & Wesson, Colt, Glock, Beretta, Sig, Taurus, Magnum Research, Walther, Rossi, Star, Astra, Auto Ordnance, and Irwindale Arms to name just a few.

When asked what is the hottest selling handgun today Steger replied the 9mm were still the best sellers. He said that even though the .40 S&W pistols from different makers are popular they aren't selling as well as the nines.

RSR openly states their sales for 1991 reached $82 million; quite an accomplishment for a company that started in a two car garage in 1977. Maybe their motto carries more truth than casual observation would merit, but then that's true of any business which achieves success through strong application of the basic principles.

The RSR staff mean it when they say, "Give the customer what other wholesalers are not."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:James, Frank W.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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