This has been in the works a long time. LMT is moving about 15 miles across the Mississippi River, similar to what Les Baer did several years ago.
Lewis Machine relocating gun manufacturing to Eldridge
Jennifer DeWitt firstname.lastname@example.org Jan 12, 2018
Huddled along the construction site in the Eldridge Industrial Park, Lewis Machine & Tool Co. celebrated the launch Friday of the company's new firearms manufacturing plant and headquarters.
Company leaders joined Eldridge city officials, Brandt Construction and other community representatives who braved the bone-chilling temperatures for the official ground-breaking ceremony. Construction on the $7.3 million, 75,000-square-foot building began in November.
Company president Karl Lewis said the new facility will not only double the size of its current Milan facility, but will allow the company to consolidate three separate locations its operates there.
"We had outgrown our facilities and by integrating into one building we'll see some efficiencies and economies of scale," said Lewis, who co-owns the company with Jim Jestel, chief operating officer, and Don Canada, vice president of manufacturing.
The project is being built by Milan-based Brandt Construction. It was designed by Landmark Engineering, Moline.
For Lewis Machine, the project represents more than four years of trying to relocate from its headquarters at 1305 11th St. W., Milan. The company first announced plans in 2013 to expand to west Davenport.
Jestel said the deal hit complications when the owner of the proposed site went through bankruptcy. But Lewis Machine also determined the site itself would not be the best fit for its expansion plans.
The new Eldridge facility will include a main facility of 60,000 square-feet with a 15,000 square-foot mezzanine, Lewis said. It will house production space for the small arms manufacturer as well as office space, warehousing and the company's own firearms testing range. Currently, it does its firearms testing at the Milan Gun Range or leases space at the Rock Island Arsenal, he added.
According to Lewis, the move will relocate its 150 employees and more jobs are expected as the company "grows its market share."
"We're in a lull right now," Lewis said, pointing to the fact his customers are less fearful of losing their gun rights under the Trump Administration.
He applauded the state of Iowa and the city of Eldridge's efforts to assist in relocating it from Illinois. "We had a lot of support from then-Gov. Terry Branstad and now Gov. Kim Reynolds. The people of Eldridge have opened up their arms to us and really made a yeoman's effort to help get us here."
"For us, Iowa has a better climate," Lewis said. "The people are more receptive to the needs of business and Eldridge is still part of the Quad-Cities."
Jestel said the company received about $1 million in government assistance, including investment tax credits, a low interest loan and a forgivable loan from the state of Iowa. The city of Eldridge also is providing a tax abatement through its tax increment financing district. Among the assistance was $250,000 awarded in direct financial assistance last May from the Iowa Economic Development Board.
The company was founded in 1980 to provide weapons, components and modular weapon systems to the U.S. military, law enforcement and other government agencies. But it also sells weapons to foreign military services and commercial retailers in about 40 countries.
"We supply rifles to several NATO companies," Jestel said. He added that the global expansion began in in 2009 with a contract with the British military. "But it has really taken off in the last three years."
The new facility is expected to be completed in early spring.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sigmund,
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
|Telling cops where to go for over 25 years|
And Weatherby is leaving CA for Wyoming. Refreshing to see companies respond to those states anti-2A methods by moving to states more in line theologically with the basis of their business.
What part of "...Shall not be infringed" don't you understand???
Good for both LMT and Weatherby.
|Gracie Allen is my |
Hope they get set up soon - I could use a couple more bolts.
there was just an ad in the weekly shopper , they are looking to hire a guy to assemble and check tolerances
Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.
Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
|Green grass and |
I do wonder what happened to LMT. Use to be their lowers were great quality and affordable and available. That just all disappeared. I never figured out what happened to them. But kind of became irrelavent in the grand scheme of things all AR. ?????
"Practice like you want to play in the game"
|Doing what I want, |
When I want,
If I want!
What? They don’t have as much in the private market because they have been supplying 5.56 and 7.62 rifles all over the world to different militaries. I have one each (by caliber) of their rifles and I’m here to tell you they are extremely accurate. They are not inexpensive, which keeps them from having a larger share of the market as well.
With the quick change of a barrel on either I can change the caliber of the rifle.
I’m glad to see them leave this crappy state. After my wife retires we plan to do the same!
"On the other side of fear you will always find freedom"
I actually thought this had occurred already. I didn't realize the snags they had hit in getting moved. Good for them.
LMT has a significant military sales program for complete guns, 40mm grenade launchers, replacement parts for LMT guns, and military contract replacment parts for other guns.
LMT also OEM’s for other manufacturers including KAC and is a machine shop doing non firearms related work.
LMT makes great guns - I hope this means they will be more availible in the commercial market.
LMT makes excellent rifles. I have them in both 5.56 and 7.62. They never left the civilian market they just focused more on keeping up their military contracts. Hopefully the new expansion will allow them to keep more flowing to the civilian market....... :-)
Remember, this is all supposed to be for fun...................
|Green grass and |
All I know is I bought a couple of lowers several years ago. Really like them. Soon after they were gone and their products became virtually non existent on the retail market.
When and if they come crawling back it won't be easy. Especially after milking the gov tit for so long. Making their products price competitive will be a pill for them to swallow. I am not holding my breath.This message has been edited. Last edited by: old rugged cross,
"Practice like you want to play in the game"
They held an open house yesterday at the new plant in Eldridge IA, about 15 miles north of the old plant in Milan IL. The new facility has a range, so I'll no longer see them test firing at the Milan Rifle Club weekday mornings.
This has video from inside the new plant:
https://lmtdefense.com/This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sigmund,
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
Glad they followed through and left Communist Illinois - Great to see them winning more contracts for rifles, only means more options for us in the future!
Iowa rifles strengthen NATO
Sen. Ernst lauds Estonian role against Russian aggression
By Mark Ridolfi, NSP Assistant Editor
Posted Tuesday, July 2, 2019 11:07 am
Lewis Machine and Tool’s $25 million contract with Estonia brings Iowa-made firepower on NATO’s front lines against “Russia and other aggressors,” Sen. Joni Ernst said Monday in Eldridge.
Ernst joined Estonia ambassador to the U.S. Jonatan Vseviov, and a delegation from the Baltic nation to formally sign the biggest international firearms deal in Iowa history.
“The agreement signed today will make NATO stronger. It will make Estonia stronger because these are the best arms in the world,” Vseviov said.
The deal still requires approval by the Senate and Vseviov was quite aware six U.S. Senators are among Iowa’s Democratic caucus candidates.
“I’m a fan and observer of American politics and you’re the center of global attention right now,” he told The NSP.
He hoped for bipartisan approval for a deal with a nation that learned firsthand the power of Russian aggression.
He opened his remarks by recounting the post World War I Soviet occupation that lasted until 1991.
“Our leaders probably thought if we were quiet enough, the storm clouds would pass. What happened was occupation… for five decades and unspeakable crimes to us,” he said on the Lewis plant floor.
He said Estonians retain two lessons from the Soviet occupation:
“It’s never safe to appease and aggressor, and freedom is not free.”
“You are on the front lines of preserving freedom and this is why it is important to resist Russian aggression. We’ve heard so much of Russia and its meddling,” she said in a speech to employees and guests including Iowa State Sens. Chris Cournoyer and Mark Lofgren.
Afterwards, she elaborated to The NSP. “We have to push back against communism and socialism to make sure countries are not taken over by aggressors like Russia and others,” she said.
The 16,000 Lewis rifles will replace Israeli AK weapons that Estonian troops carried as NATO allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Estonian public information officer Ingrid Mühling was among Estonians conscripted for military training as a youth, then served as a reservist for 20 years.
“We had the Israeli weapons for 20 years. When Russian occupation ended in 1992, nobody wanted to sell us weapons. Israel was the only one,” she said.
Ultimately most of Estonia’s 26,000 soldiers will carry Lewis firearms, she said.
Lewis competed against global firms to win the contract that company founder Karl Lewis hopes will ignite interest from other NATO allies.
“We’re used to fighting in a weight class above what we are,” he said.
Ambassador Vseviov said that’s not unlike Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million people who share a border with Russia.
Monday’s deal comes a year after the U.S. ambassador to Estonia, James D. Melville Jr., abruptly resigned in disagreement over President Trump’s NATO bashing.
Vseviov said his nation’s NATO relationship remains strong.
“We look at words and rhetoric, but actions are what counts. I have no concern about the strength of the alliance. We’re always concerned about the pace of progress. That’s a fact of life in a small nation. We have a saying that translates, to keep up, we have to run faster.”
Karl Lewis said his firm will fulfill the Estonian contract in under two years, while filling other international government and U.S. law enforcement orders.
Open house draws employees families
Monday’s contract signing followed an open house Sunday for Lewis employees, their families and others who celebrated the company’s move from Milan, Ill.
The company set up a catered barbecue buffet and a kids bounce house next to Lewis’ firearm manufacturing stations recently moved from its Milan plant.
In Milan, workers stood almost shoulder-to-shoulder in a dark, stuffy plant filled beyond capacity.
In Eldridge, those same workers say they enjoy bright light, breezy air conditioning and wide walkways between those same machines.
“We’re not so crammed in,” said John Goeden, a second shift firearms inspector.
Karl Lewis’ frustration with Illinois regulation and taxes prompted his interest in moving to Iowa nearly 10 years ago.
He negotiated incentives from the state of Iowa for a Davenport plant, but switched to Eldridge, which offered more room for expansion.
“In Eldridge, we found better accessibility for employees and suppliers and we’ve got a lot of ability to expand,” Lewis told The NSP Sunday.
He also welcomed the can-do collaboration from state and Eldridge leaders.
“Whether we’re talking about Marty, his guys, or the Iowa economic development guys, their openness and transparency shows a spirit to get things done.”
Eldridge Mayor Marty O’Boyle stood alongside Lewis and other company officials to snip a ceremonial ribbon.
O’Boyle said the grand opening emphasizes his city’s eagerness to work with businesses, and available property to welcome many more.
“It’s a good day in Eldridge,” he said. “This is just another thing that puts us on the global map.”
Eldridge plant built for expansion
The new Eldridge plant allows Lewis to expand production volume, create more products and pursue more overseas customers.
The company also has a big contract with New Zealand authorities.
The new plant allows production volume for those big customers, and delivery speed for all customers, Lewis said.
“We can get an order from a police department, assemble it during the day, test fire it at night and ship it the next day,” he said.
All Lewis firearms are tested in an indoor range tunnel that is among the Eldridge plant’s big advantages. The indoor tunnel captures all the noise, allowing testing that Lewis anticipates will occur on all shifts.
Engineering assistant Jose Velasquez, of East Moline, showed his mom, Berta, through the plant.
Velasquez attended a vocational school to learn computer animation, but struggled to find work in the area until joining Lewis. Now he works mainly on a computer, organizing documents and work flow for the company’s engineers.
He said his commute time remains about the same, but is mostly interstate.
His work environment is much better.
“We were all the way up to capacity,” in Milan, he said. “We’ve got way more elbow room here.”
Betty Norris, of East Moline, joined Lewis four years ago after 30 years with the Daily Dispatch in Moline. “That was my family for so long, and now I’ve got a new family here. It’s a fantastic company,” she said.
Lewis initially promised 170 jobs in return for state and local incentives. In March, Eldridge council members agreed to waive those job guarantees after Lewis said it no longer expected that much personnel growth.
On Sunday, Lewis said he anticipates more hiring, but is focusing on providing training and finding higher-skilled employees to help the company innovate more automated manufacturing techniques.
“It’s not the number of heads that dictates success. We’re looking at bringing highly skilled employees to this area focusing on a different area of high tech. I don’t want to tip my hand too much.”
Lewis also hired Clean Green QC of Eldridge to clean and maintain the plant, which gleamed for Sunday’s open house.
Excellent weapons systems!
I have 1.90 LMT rifles (currently waiting on a LMT Bolt & BCG) and I'm impressed on how well they work.
I'm happy that they left Illinois. There's really no upside to running a successful business here with all the taxes and bullshit in this state.
And it's not even the State's problems, it just the north eastern corner of the State.
Hopefully, I'll be heading out to LMT in the next few weeks to take a look at the new place.
"When its time to shoot, shoot. Dont talk!"
“What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” —Author Tom Clancy
They don't have to make price competitive products, they just have to be top kitchen which goes without being said. Loom at KAC, not competrice in the least and it doesnt affect them. Not every AR manufacturer has to have a price point product. There will always be people who will see the value in quality bonds and be willing to pay for it.
I doubt they'll need to crawl back anywhere, they're standing just fine as they are and will grow stronger when they start getting more products to market.
LMT is still a small operation. Their parts are out there but you have to be patient and keep an eye open. They have gotten a lot of contracts lately so that makes things even harder. Back in March I decided to put together an LMT MWS with their MARS-H lower. I'm going to use all LMT parts (well except the stock and grip, those are Magpul). The lower is complete and I'm on the lookout for the barrel, BCG, and upper. For the quality I'm willing to wait. Hopefully by Christmas but if not oh well. I also picked up a MARS-L lower just to have after seeing the quality of the -H.
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
I have come close to getting an MWS in 308, but it never seems to happen.
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