STREETSBORO — Blade-Tech, a business new to Streetsboro late last year, is looking to expand its workforce of about 35 local employees.

CEO Bryce Wegner said he hopes to hire additional sales, marketing and engineering professionals to work at the 32,000-square-foot facility on Wellman Road, which he said he bought and moved into last fall.

“In Washington, three years ago, we had 95 employees, and over the last three years, we outsourced and got to about 35 employees,” said Wegner. “We’re roughly about the same out here and looking at increasing our workforce on the manufacturing side.”

Blade-Tech manufactures gun holsters, Taser holsters, belts designed to take holsters, magazine pouches and more. Wegner said the company’s customers include consumers who have concealed-carry permits and a wide variety of police and military agencies.

Part of the reason he said he outsourced much of the production of the company’s manufacturing in Puyallup, Washington, where the company had a 50,000-square-foot facility, was the lack of a strong manufacturing workforce.

“There’s more manufacturing here in Ohio,” he said. “You’ve got a workforce that knows plastics. In Washington, we’d be paying $18 an hour and not be able to find anybody. It’s been night and day. We’ve just really enjoyed the move and location.”

In addition to a workforce better prepared to run the injection molding process, Wegner said the building and location were perfect for Blade-Tech. The Wellman Road site is located about a quarter mile from the Frost Road entrance to Interstate 480.

Wegner hopes to build an addition to accommodate more manufacturing in the future. Currently, he outsources a portion of the manufacturing to three other area companies, including The Tech House, which also is located in Streetsboro. After he builds his sales, marketing and engineering force, Wegner said the company plans to build a 20,000-square-foot addition, bringing the Streetsboro building to about the same size as the former facility in Washington.

For the time being, though, Wegner said the area shops are doing a good job.

“They’ve been great to work with,” he said. “It’s been heaven for us because everyone knows what they’re doing.”

The move itself went exceptionally well, he added.

“Back in Washington state, we bought six months worth of inventory,” he said, adding Blade-Tech bought the Streetsboro facility in September and was operational in November. “We didn’t miss a single day of production or shipping.”

Wegner said the company’s biggest market is concealed carry.

“We’re the official holster provider for the Australian military, and we do U.S. military, as well,” he said.

He said Blade-Tech will not offer the most or least expensive products on the market.

“Our goal is to make the best product at the best price,” he said. “We use top-grade materials for all our injection molds, and we always try to be manufacturer friendly.”

When designing parts, he said Blade-Tech engineers try to make them as simple as possible to run through the manufacturing process in an effort to control prices.

Safety is the company’s top priority, he added. With all Blade-Tech’s products, owners can hear a click when a gun is properly inserted.

The company’s manufacturing process begins with injection molding. After that, many parts require additional work before they can be packaged and shipped to Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain stores, many smaller gun shops and police and military outfits.

One of the reasons Wegner said he wants to hire engineers to comprise the company’s research and development staff is the ability to speed up the development pipeline. Currently, he relies on engineers in Washington, and, while models can be sent via email, he said he’ll be able to see 3D prints faster with local staff.

The firearms holster and accessory industry follows the firearms industry itself, said Wegner.

Since firearms tend to sell well during recessions, he said Blade-Tech tends to weather them well, too.

“Generally, in recessions, gun sales go up,” he said. “Alcohol, tobacco and firearms sales go up during recessions.”

However, while firearms sales can be a bit volatile, depending on whether Democrats are considering additional regulations, the holster business experiences a natural delay, leading to sales increases after gun sales spike.

“We don’t have big ebbs and flows, and we can increase sales and marketing to compensate if that does happen,” he said.

 

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, bgaetjens@recordpub.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.