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A Success Story: Mesa Tactical (PART I)

A Success Story: Mesa Tactical (PART I)

One of my favorite pastimes is to read about successful businesses, the people behind the scenes, their struggles, and successes. I contacted MesaTactical about a year ago for an interview and Mitch Barrie immediate loved the idea of writing not only about their products but about what makes Mesa Tactical a successful business. Unfortunately a few months ago I lost most of my old blog posts including this one, so here it is again. I hope you enjoy it!

Gabby Franco.

Gabby: Like most new businesses, Mesa Tactical encountered many challenges. You even invested most of your savings in the company. What was your worst mistake as a new business, if any? And what did you learn from it?

 Mitch: I think the worst mistake I made was naïvely thinking I could employ the knowledge and skills acquired during a career in high tech to bust into the firearms aftermarket. In the end, we certainly made a success of it, but it took a lot more time and money than I ever expected.

What I learned was that it’s very important in any new business to speak with, work with and hire people who have experience in that business. And when drafting your business plan, ensure you have at least twice as much capital as your plan shows you will need. Most businesses fail because they run out of money. That happens even if they are good ideas, well executed.

Gabby: What would be your advice to startups in the firearms industry?

Mitch: First, unless you are an enthusiast, pick another industry. This is a business where you have to really care about the product, the industry, and your customers MESA URBINO TACT STOCK KIT BEN M4because without fat military contracts you aren’t going to be making lots of money. Competition is fierce and margins are tight.

Second, it helps if you cultivate friends and mentors in the industry, people who know the business and who can help you with advice and connections. A lot of guys are what you would expect: they keep things close to their chest and don’t have a lot of time for chit-chatting with noobs and entrepreneurs. But it’s surprising how many people there are out there who are proud of what they do and really enjoy sharing information with casual friends and even strangers. I have enjoyed and benefited from such relationships over the years, even among competitors, and I always try to give time to new guys asking for advice.

Finally, even though I’m not at all religious, I often approach a situation by asking, “What would Jesus do?” It was a slogan popular in the 1990s and was based on the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. It’s how we handle our vendors and work in customer service. It’s about putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes before making a decision. This is an industry with a lot of weird, draconian customer service policies, like a 20% restocking fee after a company sent you the wrong part in the first place, stuff like that. We have a few basic policies to protect ourselves, but beyond that everyone who answers the phone here puts himself or herself in the customer’s place and behaves accordingly. You can’t please everyone (I think Jesus said that too), but it sure makes us popular with most of our customers. Our employees like it as well; they don’t have to be the bad guy.

Gabby: What makes mesa tactical products different and better than the rest?

 Mitch: Our successful products were developed with real-life law enforcement requirements very much in mind. Our shell carriers were designed to address the deficiencies, as communicated to us by cops and LE agencies, of the carriers that were already on the market. Our Urbino stock was developed in partnership with several LE agencies and based on requirements from USMC units at Camp Pendleton. Our latest LEO stock adapters were revised with the assistance and input of our largest customer, which is the largest LE agency in the US. I think if you successfully meet the realistic requirements of the gun-carrying professional, the commercial market largely takes care of itself.

Sometimes we deviated from this course. We introduced items we thought were a cool idea, without consulting our law enforcement friends and customers. Most of these products have not fared very well in the market; they weren’t as cool as we thought they would be.

Gabby: What’s mesa tactical most popular product and why? Also, who uses your products?

Mitch: We introduced the aluminum SureShell on-gun shell carrier in 2005 almost as an afterthought. We wanted a way for people to hold shells on our collapsing stocks, and the main shell carrier supplier at the time wouldn’t play ball with us. So we made our own, but we made it better. We have since sold over 127,000 of them through the end of 2016.

The SureShell carriers are more expensive than traditional carriers, but we made them rugged and also addressed some of the problems law enforcement agencies were having with plastic carriers. Shell retention is much better than with the competition, and if the carrier yoke gets worn the retention tubes can be easily replaced, instead of discarding the entire unit. The mounting methods were especially poorly thought out with other carriers, so we came up with our own improved versions employing custom hardware.

These improvements caught on with law enforcement agencies, who really abuse their equipment, and for a while, law enforcement was at least half our business. We sell to some of the largest local agencies in the US, including the city of Los Angeles as well as the LA Sheriff’s Office, plus many others. We have also been successful with state agencies and a number of Federal agencies, especially Homeland Security and the FBI.

Lately, we have been seeing a lot more interest from the 3-Gun crowd and other competition shooters.

Of course, these days the bulk of our sales are to commercial customers, shooting enthusiasts and people interested in personal or home defense who simply prefer to use what law enforcement are using.

Read the second part of this article Here

Category: The Industry