If the past couple of years taught the industry anything, it’s the importance of being flexible and able to adapt to a fast-changing business environment, as well as the necessity of innovating to attract and retain new customers. These top-caliber presenters will provide actionable insights to do just that.
Richard Abramson spent a career as a corporate turnaround CEO in the software space. Turnarounds included both private and public companies and included leading an IPO on the NASDAQ exchange.
His interest in firearms lead him to research and build Centennial Gun Club in a southern suburb of Denver Colorado. He led operations for Centennial Gun Club for eight years and sold the business in 2020. Under his leadership, Centennial Gun Club was known for innovation and most notably, it’s membership programs. Following the sale of Centennial Gun Club, Abramson served as Vice President of Range and Retail at Delta Defense, the operating entity of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association for three years.
Currently, Abramson serves as CEO of Profit Turbine, a company dedicated to helping ranges increase their profitability in the services sector of the business including recurring revenue streams, customer engagement, range utilization, training and events.
Nancy is Vice President of Business Development for Southwick Associates, working with private sector clients on understanding their information needs and providing insight on how to improve performance. Nancy worked for more than 20 years at Leupold & Stevens in market research and sales forecasting positions, and she worked as Market Research Manager for Blount International supporting global research and information needs for sales, marketing, and new product development teams. Nancy and Southwick Associates have spoken at many NSSF events. Nancy has been a dedicated volunteer for Boy Scouts of America and served on the board of directors of the Cascade Pacific Boy Scout Council. She currently serves on the board of the MidwayUSA Foundation.
Paul is Managing Director and principal owner of Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center, LLC, and Managing Director of Heritage Estate Services and Firearms Appraisals, all while maintaining a sergeant’s commission in the Special Operations Division for the Lake St. Louis Police Department. Prior to 2010, Paul recognized a severe shortage of quality firearm training in the civilian sector and set in motion the project that became Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center. Through his leadership and vision, Ultimate Defense has become one of the leading firearm training institutes in the United States, including being nominated for NSSF’s Range of the Year in 2015.
Judy joined ATF in 1973 in Chicago just a year after it became a bureau. She was hired as a clerk-stenographer, then became an Investigative Analyst and worked with ATF special agents, including a year at ATF Headquarters. After 27 years, Judy became an ATF Inspector/Investigator. She has conducted hundreds of inspections of firearms and explosive licensees and qualified many applicants for firearms and explosive licenses. She also taught and developed practical exercises at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Judy retired from ATF with over 42 years of government service.
Oliver attended the University of Northern Colorado from 2009-2014 and after graduation he moved to Denver to become a certified public accountant at KPMG. At KPMG Oliver learned the power of understanding multiple types of business and their levers for growth. In 2016, Oliver co-founded Elevate Advertising, which now has over 200 clients, has helped over 25 ranges and retailers throughout the country and has presented at multiple NSSF events. Oliver uses his experience in applying digital strategies to help the firearm industry grow and ranges and retailers connect with their customers. Oliver lives in Denver with his fiancée, Bri, and golden retriever, Bunker.
Amanda Carey has worked as the Operations Director of Range Management Solutions for the last 3 years and recently joined as the Franchise Support Manager at Midwest Shooting Center Franchising. She has a total of 5 years dedicated to growing recurring revenue streams for various types of business models. She has worked with over a dozen ranges across the country to grow their own membership bases, summing over 17,000 current active members. Her passion is helping ranges elevate their blended margins through high volume recurring revenue opportunities that maximize their revenue per customer in a predictable way.
Erin is the Director of Marketing for Freedom Outdoors, an NSSF Five-Star Range and premier outdoor sporting goods retailer. Freedom Outdoors is the flagship Range Time facility that focuses on memberships, outdoor sporting goods and firearm retail, along with equipment, service and procurement solutions tailored for government customers. Erin is responsible for leading the company's marketing efforts and has been instrumental in the 60 percent increase in memberships in the last three years. In addition to her outdoor industry experience, Erin has experience in the fitness industry and leading recurring revenue streams. Erin founded the non-profit Raise ‘Em Outdoors in 2016 to promote getting families involved in the outdoors and shooting sports. Erin was recognized by Safari Club International for the success of Raise ‘Em Outdoors, and her philanthropy was the cornerstone for Blood Origins & GoWild’s partnership and feature of “Tales of Hunting & Community.”
Dan has owned Maxon Shooter's Supplies since 2015. He came into the firearm industry after a 20-plus-year career in commodity futures trading. “I saw Maxon as a great opportunity. I liked what was already being done, but thought I could make it even better.” He is also the founder and first president of the Illinois firearm dealer association, FFL-IL. FFL-IL was founded in response to relentless attacks against federal firearm licensees by anti-gun and anti-Second Amendment groups. The organization is dedicated to preserving the gun rights of all lawful Illinois residents by ensuring gun stores and ranges are not regulated out of business.
Todd founded ArcWest to focus on project management and operational organization and build a firm portfolio of both residential and commercial projects. He has been involved on three indoor range projects involving adding a range to an existing building. The profession recognizes Todd as a responsive project manager with an in-depth understanding of integrated building systems and construction methods. As a project leader, Todd collaborates directly with owners and senior management to develop a design that meets the client’s goals with functional and aesthetic solutions. Todd’s hobbies include mountain biking, skiing, camping and welding. As an experienced welder, Todd often fabricates custom steel details used in ArcWest’s projects. Todd is married to Tina, and they have two children.
Dale has over 20 years’ experience in recognizing, evaluating and controlling workplace safety and health hazards. He’s worked tirelessly with the shooting range industry to assess OSHA compliance and workplace exposures to airborne lead dust, noise and other related hazards over the last 10 years. Dale has previously worked for OSHA as a Compliance Safety and Health Officer and as an industrial hygienist at OSHA’s National Office. Dale is a board-certified industrial hygienist and safety professional, as well as an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer. He created On Target Safety Academy to provide training and technical occupational safety and health assistance to the shooting range industry either onsite or remotely.
Tim Lang is Range and Retail Director of Ann Arbor Arms, an NSSF 5-Star Range located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has played a key role in discovering the core values of the business by building a successful foundation for membership at A3. Tim joined Ann Arbor Arms in 2015 just as the range was about to open and has established a strong sense of community for both customers and members. Tim is a U.S. Marine Veteran and his passion for the industry is rivaled only by his drive to ensure a premium experience for every customer and member.
Judyth served as the Director, Industry Operations of the Columbus Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) since July 2013, overseeing ATF regulatory enforcement operations in Ohio and Indiana. Judyth, who began her ATF career in 1999, previously served as Area Supervisor for the Columbus Field Division’s Cleveland III (IO) Field Office from and Branch Chief, ATF Industry Operations Training Branch in Washington, D.C. Judyth was the Program Manager responsible for ATF IO Advanced Explosives Training programs and served as the Special Operations Officer for the Baltimore Field Division and was an Inspector in the field in Tallahassee and St. Louis. Judyth began her government career in 1988 with the Naval Investigative Service, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She received her BA from the University of Central Florida, graduating summa cum laude with a major in legal studies and a minor in criminal justice.
Harry is an independent and NSSF consultant serving all levels (manufacturer, importer, distributor and retailer) of the firearm industry, with emphasis on ensuring his clients are in compliance with Gun Control Act of 1968 and the National Firearms Act. He does limited consulting to the explosives industry to ensure compliance with federal explosives laws, including the Safe Explosives Act of 2002. Prior to becoming a consultant, Harry was employed by the ATF for more than 36 years, the last two and a half years as Deputy Assistant Director in the Office of Field Operations, where he was responsible for formulating many of the ATF firearms and explosives field inspection policies and procedures that remain in effect today. Harry’s experience with ATF places him in an excellent position to assist members of the firearm and explosives industries with navigating the complex laws and regulations that govern those industries and with “Putting the Pieces of the ATF Compliance Puzzle Together.”
As the Marketing Manager of White Birch Armory, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Range-Retailer in Dover, N.H., Brenna played an integral role in discovering the identity of the business. Brenna joined the company during the construction of the range in 2020 and since then has established a strong sense of community for customers, and members, by seamlessly tying their digital relationship with the brand into their in-store experience. Brenna has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from Suffolk University, but her love for hunting and shooting sports has made for a natural transition into her profession.
Wally is a retired ATF Deputy Assistant Director with more than 33 years of ATF experience. As DAD, he directed all regulatory firearms programs, including the development and monitoring of firearms inspection programs, licensing, NFA, imports, tracing and regulations, as well as the firearms technology branch. He retired from ATF in October 2005. For the last 16-plus years, Nelson has brought his expertise in firearms laws and regulations to manufacturers, importers and dealer as a private consultant. He conducts training sessions, internal control reviews, records audits and inventory controls. He has been an expert witness in civil suits and helped FFLs with all manner of compliance and licensing issues, and FFLs facing license revocation. Nelson has spoken on compliance at every SHOT Show since 2007.
Mark is the Managing Director for Public Affairs at NSSF and is responsible for NSSF’s communications on policy, government relations and legislative issues. Mark served 25 years in the Marine Corps, retiring in 2017 at the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant. Mark served in public affairs in the Marine Corps, including a tour as a staff writer for Stars and Stripes newspaper on Okinawa, Japan. Mark’s military career included deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Haiti and the Mediterranean Sea, and he participated in combat operations in multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mark also saw service as a Defense Legislative Fellow to a Virginia congressman and was an Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Wounded Warriors in both the Navy and the Marine Corps.
Sarah has nearly two decades of retail experience with heavy concentration on visual merchandising. In her current role as Director of Business Operations at Ann Arbor Arms, she oversees inventory and purchasing, merchandising, sales floor planning, pricing, HR, marketing and IT operations. Early on, Sarah served as the company's full-time buyer, which included management of all merchandise and sales floor engineering. She was with retail giant Cabela’s for more than 12 years, where she was integral in ensuring the highest quality visual merchandising across departments. While at Cabela’s, Sarah was one of a handful of leaders selected for the Merchandising Experience Project and The Women in Leadership Program. Sarah's passion for retail excellence is rivaled only by her drive to ensure a premium experience for every customer at every level of service.
Joe Preston is the General Manager of The Powder Room Shooting Range and Training Center in Panama City Beach, Florida. The Powder Room opened in December 2020 at the height of Covid. Starting a business during that time was a huge challenge, making construction, staffing development and securing product all the more difficult. The Powder Room’s early success is something Joe and his colleagues are very proud of.
Prior to his retirement from law enforcement, Lt. Colonel Preston served as Director of Administration and Emergency Management with the Walton County Sheriff's Office. Joe also spent years in the corporate world with the Fairbanks Scale Company and the Hill-Rom Company directing service operations. Joe holds trainer/instructor certifications in firearms instruction, defensive tactics and traffic crash investigation, among others, and he’s an adjunct instructor for the at Northwest Florida State College.
Joe is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in business administration and of the Southern Police Institute in the127th Administrative Officers Course. He has taught for the Southern Police Institute, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Sheriff’s Association.
Toby grew up in an archery-focused family that opened their first retail shop (R&R Archery) in the dining room of their home in White Oak, Texas, around 1976. His father, Robert, gave seminars around the country and eventually was hired as the design engineer at Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) in Tucson. Toby’s brother, Terry, was a multi-time world champion and arguably the greatest archer ever.
Toby worked in the family shop while growing up. There were no posted hours; if the porch light was on, the shop was open. He turned pro at 18 after having won national championships as an amateur both indoors and outdoors. He’s still collecting titles, with his most recent honor coming in 2021 for the outdoor nationals.
It’s not all target shooting for Toby. He is an avid bowhunter with 11 Pope & Young bucks to his credit. Toby worked for PSE, too, in many different areas, but staffing the “technical hotline” taught him more about dealing with people than any other experience. He did a stint at FedEx yet nearly always kept his hand in archery retail. In 2014 Toby “retired” from the archery business, but that didn’t last long. In 2015 the phone rang, and conversations began that led to Toby meeting Thom Bolsch on the concrete slab that would become Saddle River Range. Thom’s enthusiasm and business vision were contagious, and Toby joined SRR Archery in Conroe, Texas, and has helped build it up from the ground floor make it the success it is today.
Rebecca is the General Manager of Operations at RTSP, LLC and RTSP Union, LLC, two NSSF Five Star Ranges in Randolph and Union, NJ. She started as a Marketing Assistant and quickly advanced to Store Manager before reaching her current position. Rebecca's background in graphic design, IT knowledge, passion for firearms, and business drive have contributed to her success and the growth of two of the largest range/retailers in the United States.
Kaleb developed RetailBI, an industry leading business intelligence tool that leverages transaction and inventory data from Gearfire's ecosystem to enhance manufacturer decision making and product research efforts and is used by top manufacturers in the Shooting Sports industry. Kaleb has over 8 years of experience as a management consultant and is known for building rigorous financial models and deliverables. He has used data to help financial institutions excel in strategic planning, digital banking, branch optimization, and M&A. He helps solve complex problems and make difficult decisions through data driven financial and operational analysis.
A Veteran of the US Navy, Jason Smith has more than fifteen years’ experience supporting the shooting range industry with environmental, health and safety expertise. As a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Jason leverages a multidisciplinary, scientific approach to working with range owners and operators to protect employees and customers from exposures to lead, noise and other workplace hazards.
In addition, Jason has extensive experience supporting major federal and commercial projects from design through construction and operation with environmental impact assessment and environmental planning and permitting.
Raised in the shooting sports business, Richard Sprague has been the owner since 1984 of his family’s 67-year-old business, Sprague’s Sports LLC. Their facility in Yuma, AZ is 22,500 sf with a 15-lane indoor shooting range, classroom and gunsmith shop. In conjunction with Sprague’s they also have a sister company called Truck Mates / Line X of Yuma housed in a separate building and shop on the same 4-acre parcel. These two businesses are operated side by side with 36-employees. Richard co-founded the shooting sports industry’s 1st Performance Dealer 20 Group in 2007 and his group’s 11-stores continue to meet twice a year to talk shop and learn from each other. Richard has been active with NSSF’s retail advisory board and Board of Governors for several years and has attended every SHOT Show since 1979.
Bryan “B.A.” Stear is the Founder of Shoot Indoors Franchising, a popular indoor shooting range franchise headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Shoot Indoors currently has four locations nationally with more coming soon. Each location provides the opportunity for anyone to learn firearms safety, become comfortable with firearms, and practice target shooting in a safe, friendly, and clean indoor environment. Shoot Indoors locations do not sell firearms and focus primarily on fun and recreational experiences.
In addition to franchising, his affiliated company TAPER-range uses their patented range design to shrink the range footprint to vastly reduce the build and equipment costs without impacting the shooting experience. To date, they have built six taper-ranges nationally.
B.A. graduated from Lehigh University with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics. He also holds a Masters in Engineering Management from the University of Colorado. Although he comes from the satellite industry, his approach to demographics and data analytics is well suited for range development.
Skyler Thomas is the Vice President for Freedom Outdoors, an NSSF Five Star range and premier outdoor sporting goods retailer. Freedom Outdoors is the flagship Range Time facility that focuses on memberships, outdoor sporting goods, and firearms retail, along with equipment, service, and procurement solutions tailored for government customers. In his role, Skyler is responsible for creating, energizing and implementing the company’s vision, and leading the day-to-day operations of its teams across the local Freedom and corporate Range Time organization.
Skyler has over 15 years of experience leading in the outdoor sporting goods industry. Prior to joining Freedom Shooting Center & Range Time, Skyler consulted for Colonial Shooting Academy VAB, Blackstone Shooting Sports, and was the Director of Operations at Clark Consulting a defense contractor based in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he led the development of the company’s business strategy, service and product offering, market expansion, and commercial business development.
Skyler is a proven leader with a demonstrated ability to develop quality teams and drive performance across multiple categories. His focus on creating value for all stakeholders and commitment to leading as an ambassador for the outdoor sports community are significant assets that will not only support Freedom Outdoors & Range Time’s future growth, but the entire outdoor and shooting sports industry.
Most recently Skyler was named NSSF’s Top Innovator and Influencers and Virginia’s Inside Business Top 40 Under 40. Skyler is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and George Mason University, where he earned his MBA.
Jeff Wait is the owner of Okeechobee Shooting Sports located in Okeechobee, Florida. At Okeechobee, Jeff continues the family tradition of being involved in the shooting sports and defense industries. Over decades, the Wait family has run multiple ranges and a gunsmithing business, but also the Waits find time to enjoy the shooting sports, too, and are avid competitors in many disciplines. Okeechobee Shooting Sports is an outdoor NSSF Five-Star rated public range that caters to nearly every type of shooting sports enthusiast. Many training companies and law enforcement use the range as well. By capitalizing on a wide variety of marketing and media opportunities, Jeff has built a thriving business. The average customer travels over and hour to get to the facility, knowing that the destination is worth the effort to reach. Jeff has been involved in many industry groups throughout the years where his knowledge and insights help other business owners become more successful.
As the third generation of her family to work in the firearms industry, Jeanelle Westrom is the owner of Davenport Guns & Shooting Club, a full-service firearms range, training and retail facility in Davenport, Iowa. She’s been involved in the firearms industry since childhood, beginning with gun shows with her parents, graduating to competitive shooting and working on the firearms manufacturing side at ArmaLite. Jeanelle is now working on getting her Masters in Stress Management as she runs her range-retail business. She's the Iowa Director for the DC Project, a female Pro 2A group, and is a member of the NSSF Range & Retail Advisory Council along with the NSSF Board of Governors.
Hank Yacek has held several roles during his career of more than 30 years, with positions ranging from sales, management and owning his own retail establishment to now owning an industry consulting firm. Yacek began his career in 1987 in a local shop in Waterbury, Connecticut, staying in firearms industry retail through 2004 when he opened his own store in Lexington, Kentucky. He eventually graduated from the retail side of the industry and leveraged his retail expertise while working as director of retail development for a large firearm distributor. Today, Yacek operates Point of Impact Consulting, which is dedicated to working with and growing the firearms industry and promoting success at all levels.
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