Remington Outdoor Co. notified state officials that it will close a factory in St. Cloud where it produces military rifles, eliminating 68 jobs in the central Minnesota city as it consolidates manufacturing from there and elsewhere at a new site in Alabama.
The St. Cloud unit, called DPMS Panther Arms, is a maker of AR-15 rifles for the U.S. military and numerous variants for consumers. Since 2007, DPMS has been part of a consortium that is led by Remington, the North Carolina company that bills itself as the nation’s oldest gunmaker.
Complying with a state law that requires employers to warn about layoffs, Remington said in a letter to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that it would idle 34 workers, half of them involved in assembly, in September and the rest in early January.
The company last week announced that it was moving production from the St. Cloud unit and others in Elizabethtown, Ky., Ilion, N.Y., West Jordan, Utah, Kalispell, Mont., Kennesaw, Ga., Lawrenceville, Ga., and Pineville, N.C., to a large new factory in Huntsville, Ala. The plant in Ilion, which opened in 1816, is the oldest factory in the U.S. still producing its original product.
In a statement last week, Remington spokesman Ted Novin said the company had made a strategic decision to concentrate production for better efficiency and quality control. He couldn’t be reached for further comment Monday.
In the letter to the DEED, Remington said the St. Cloud layoffs “are expected to be permanent.” It added, “This is a nonunion facility and the employees have no bumping rights.”
DPMS was originally known as Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services when it was started in 1985 in Becker, southeast of St. Cloud, as a producer of components for Army weapons. Founder and longtime president Randy Luth moved the firm to St. Cloud in 2004, sold it to Remington in 2007 and retired in 2009.
The company for years stayed largely out of the national debate over advanced weapons like the semi-automatic AR-15. Luth in 2001 told the Associated Press that the company kept a low profile “out of respect for people who don’t care for guns, as well as the security issue.”
The St. Cloud Times reported that a DPMS executive last year testified in a Minnesota House hearing against a proposed assault weapons ban, an idea that ultimately was not added to legislation.