Rise Armament has quickly made a name for itself among AR-15 builder aficionados with tier one products and accessories. Although one of the newer companies in the industry, Rise Armament has also gained a loyal dealer following due to innovative products, extreme quality, and higher-than-average margin and inventory turn.
Tactical Retailer had the opportunity to speak with Garrett Grover, Product Specialist, Prostaffer and Austin Dickerson, Account Manager about what Rise Armament is bringing to the market.
TR — What should dealers know about Rise Armament?
Grover — Many dealers already carry our products and are doing extremely well, however, for those dealers who have missed us since our first products just over six years ago, they should know that we offer exceptional, premium-tier-quality AR-15 products that are stylistically unlike anything else on the market. Our products get customer attention, and sales for dealers have proven that our quality sells.
TR — Quality is a term thrown around a lot in the industry. How is Rise setting itself apart from the competition?
Grover — It is, and I think a lot of companies subjectively talk about quality when they really have no measures or standards. We could talk about our extremely impressive high precision Makino pallet, Swiss, or 5-axis machining capabilities, but the reality is we are a bit different than a lot of the AR-15 manufacturers who are just pumping out pallets of AR-15 parts. We did not just spring out of a machine shop that wanted to start making AR-15 parts.
Instead, our entire company was meticulously planned out to be the business it has become today thanks to our range of highly experienced personnel, including executives, machinists and veterans from the oil, aerospace, fabricating industries and military. Everything we have done to create and drive the business forward is reflective in our core values of Integrity – Be Real & Be Trustworthy, Quality – Do Things Right, Ingenuity – Build Creative Solutions and Continual Improvement – Always Become Better.
As a testament to our commitment to those core values, we obtained one of the most strict certifications in manufacturing, which is high-risk AS9100- and ISO9001 2008-certification — very rare in the firearms industry. This certification assures the industry we have data, tracking and processes to assure the integrity and quality of our products. Our continually improved innovative designs reflect our commitment to Ingenuity and Continual Improvement. Dealers and customers can see our core values in every part and know that we back everything with a no questions asked lifetime warranty.
TR — How do these core values impact the dealer?
Grover — A great example of quality can be measured in dealer returns, or in this case having to deal with a lot less returns. We did a lot of dealer surveys on average returns/problems with match triggers. According to those surveys, we have the lowest return rate of match-grade triggers in the industry. Part of that was the innovation around a cartridge-style trigger that assures perfect alignment and delivers a much easier install. The other part of that reduced return rate is from our quality ISO and AS processes that ensure each and every part inside that trigger is of the highest quality possible for perfect alignment, finish, fit and function. We put that attention in every product, so dealers can know they are selling a customer the best possible product while also reducing overhead costs. If an issue arises, we are going to get the issue taken care of.
TR — Rise started with just a few parts and now you even offer full firearms.
Grover — Currently, we offer about 10 rifles and for the builder (we offer) barrels, receivers, bolt carrier groups, compensators, triggers, handguards and a few accessories. We are manufacturing all of the main parts in-house in Oklahoma. Some of the minor small parts are outsourced, but still made in the U.S.
TR — The Rise products have a cool futuristic style.
Grover — [laughing] There is some speculation we have some serious sci-fi fans in the design department, however, this has become the Rise style. Customers love it, and it has been carried through to create our own distinctive look and feel designed into every product. The Rise products look like nothing else on the market. For the dealer who also offers custom Cerakote, all those design elements really pop with some color added.
TR — How has Rise Armament developed its dealer program?
Dickerson — We have a simple entry level buy-in, but we always make the distributors available for new dealers who want to try out our products. Dealers can get in at a decent price on our products and make good margin with a target of 28 points of margin. For new dealers, distributors availability can be a bit better for the dealer who purchases mixed brand orders. For the dealer it really does not matter; we have a number of dealers who will go through Pro Shooting Supply and RSR and also with us directly. We get a lot of questions about whether they will get an order quicker through a direct or distributor relationship. We always ensure dealer direct orders do not get run over by larger distributor orders.
TR — How does Rise Armament help dealers?
Grover — We have created a number of marketing programs over the years to help boost dealer sales. One program has been to upgrade to a match trigger for anyone buying a Rise Armament rifle. For the stocking dealer, we can work on some support programs in-store, such as events including Rise signage and involvement in some of our shooting events.
TR — How has Rise developed new product concepts?
Grover — We are a company of shooters who spend a lot of time on the range, and we even have an Army sniper working for us who provides a lot of feedback on our long-range guns. As a 3-gun competitor and Prostaffer for Rise, I get to find out firsthand what works and what can improve. We capture all that feedback, including feedback from our LEO shooters, and incorporate those improvements into the next revisions. For new products, we listen to the shooter feedback and look for gaps in the market and create something new or something better than what is on the market now. Our receivers and trigger groups represent in many ways some totally new approaches to legacy products. For the LEO customers, we created rifles that fit in the budget of a typical officer.
TR — Can you talk about how Rise is involved in promoting the shooting sports?
Grover — We sponsor a number of 3-gun events, including Shoot for the Gold, Wyoming Governor’s Match, Vortex Extreme Match, Run and Gun, Rocky Mountain 3-Gun and many more. We also work with Folds of Honor with a portion of our sales supporting that charity.
TR — Where do you see the industry going?
Dickerson — Without question, we have seen a lot of changes in the industry over the past few years, with some companies having make-it-or-break-it moments. We have seen some of our fellow young and old manufacturers really struggling. On the other side, some have thrived through the struggle and are taking off. I think the biggest challenge has been cash flow from growing too fast and not being able to fill demand. Companies have also felt the pain of not having strong marketing as the market begins to soften and we all have to start actually working to get sales again.
We have focused on building an agile business model that can move with the market. That strategy has included conservative investment in our manufacturing infrastructure while working hard to ensure we have strong marketing, exceptional customer service and a loyal dealer community. We view our dealer relationships as partnerships in our joint success. If we execute on the right things at the right time and the dealers are working with us, then we can all be successful regardless of what happens in the market.