Managing director of Edgar Brothers, keen F-Class rifle shooter and fan of American muscle cars.
Tell us about the history of Edgar Brothers.
Edgar Brothers was founded in 1947 in Liverpool by my grandfather JJ Edgar and his brother Roy. Shortly after, Roy emigrated and my grandfather was joined by his son, Ian (my father) and his brother Allan, who then went to Spain to become a gunsmith. In the early days, the company converted surplus war guns into sporting firearms and was then appointed distributor for Sellier & Bellot, a company we still represent today. Eastern Bloc cartridges soon made a name for themselves and we began selling large quantities of metallic cartridges as well. This led to the distribution of Brno firearms and shotguns, then we were appointed distributor for Omark (RCBS, CCI, Speer and Outers) and for the original Weaver company.
Where did you grow up and what kind of childhood did you have?
I grew up in Woolton, Liverpool, which was where the company was at that time, went to a local primary school and then to the private Liverpool College. I was always out and about when I was growing up – I had a lot of freedom!
When did you start shooting?
I started shooting in our large back garden, plinking with a Slavia Model 618 .177 air rifle I had been given. In fact, I still have it in my office. It was a cracking rifle. In recent years I have shot a lot of clays, thanks to having Cloudside Shooting Ground just 15 minutes from the office. I've also started F-Class target rifle shooting at Diggle Rifle Ranges near Oldham.
How did you get involved with Edgar Brothers and what has been your career path to MD?
I've been involved with the business from an early age but didn't go into it straight from school. It's always good to get life experience from outside any family business so I worked in the CCTV industry for many years. I started at Edgar Brothers in the warehouse, then went on the road selling to retailers before moving to purchasing and going on to become purchasing director. When my father retired in 2000, I was promoted to MD.
How many staff does the business have and how big are your premises?
We have 40 employees and operate from five locations in the Macclesfield area. We also have a magazine on our 17-acre site just outside Macclesfield – the biggest privately owned magazine in the country.
What does your managing director role entail?
As MD, I'm responsible for the overall performance of the business and the ongoing development of the strategic operating plans, which reflect our longer-term objectives and priorities. A lot of my time is spent on products, compliance issues, export licenses, working with sales and marketing, customer and supplier visits, technical questions and keeping in contact with all our business departments. I'm also now on the board of the Gun Trade Association (GTA) as their explosives expert.
What aspects of the job do you most like and dislike?
I've always been product orientated so I like that side of the business. I dislike having to keep up with all the legislation and spending so much time on issues that seem to be put in the way of doing business.
Have you been inspired by any role models in the industry?
Having been in the industry for so long I don't think I could name just one person. I'm fortunate to consider many inspirational leaders as friends such as JB Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powder, Tom Saleen from ATK, Peter Hofmann from OMI, Bob Morrison of Taurus and Steve and Jason Hornady of Hornady. If I had to name one it would be Paolo Zoli, head of Zoli gunmakers in Italy, for his enthusiasm and passion for the business and his products.
How do you decide which brands/products to represent?
New products have to fit in with our existing lines and not clash, a good example is CZ and Savage Arms – each offer rifles the other does not. We look for new products at the SHOT Show and IWA, but many suppliers also approach us directly to handle their brand as we are capable of increasing market share. Likewise, we believe that our distribution service provides a number of advantages that cannot be obtained from a manufacturer directly.
The five knock-out products you have on your books?
There are too many to list, from Bushnell's Equinox Z Night Vision to Savage's UK AccuStalker, but if I was forced to choose, best-sellers at the moment include Hornady Superformance ammunition, MaccTecc moderators, Savage F-Class rifles, Zoli Z Gun shotguns and Caldwell's Premium Chronograph.
What is your personal favourite product?
Definitely my Zoli Z-Extra 32" shotgun, custom fitted by Paolo Zoli himself.
What is your best-selling firearm in the UK?
That's easy; the CZ 455 rimfire bolt action rifle.
How is the business split between your divisions?
The Shooting Sports Division is the oldest part of the business but our Police & Military Division has the larger turnover because of the times we live in; it supplies products to our police, military and special forces. Both divisions have their own sales force but share operational staff such as purchasing, warehouse and marketing.
What recent trends have you noticed in terms of products and shooting sports?
There has been an increase in target rifles and target rifle shooting, particularly F-Class. We've also seen a lot of interest in Nobel Sport Italia cartridges: a lot of people have been impressed with their consistency.
What are your thoughts on the lead shot debate?
There appears to be no scientific evidence to support a lead ban. Worryingly, I read recently that California will make it illegal to use lead hunting ammunition. This will reduce the number of hunters, which in turn will decrease money spent on wildlife conservation.
You have just been appointed to the GTA Council; how important is that role and the work of the GTA?
The GTA is hugely important to the UK shooting industry. We are very fortunate to have John Batley and his team to put our concerns to government. Every dealer should be a member of the GTA as the industry will always be under attack from one source or another.
What can be done to encourage more people into shooting sports?
We try to give back to the shooting community wherever we can. We sponsor a club based at Diggle Ranges for youngsters to learn to shoot rifles called the Diggle Little Rascals Target Shooting Acadamy. We hope to roll this out to other clubs soon.
What has changed recently for better and for worse in the UK shooting industry?
For better: the recent PACEC report on the value of shooting to the UK economy. For worse: the soon to be introduced need to enter reloading powder on an RFD register – another EU directive to crack a nut with a wrecking ball.
What is the greatest threat to shooting and the countryside way of life?
If a lead ban becomes reality, this will be massively damaging to the UK market.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I'm a bit of a petrolhead and love American muscle cars. I regularly show my Ford Mustang and have been around the Nürburgring, through the Bernardino and Stelvio passes, and down to Monaco and back several times with it. I drive to work in a Holden 6.2l Supercharged 630bhp V8. You can't beat the sound of an American V8!