Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen introduces the latest installment of the Montana Business Spotlight series recognizing and highlighting local businesses across the Treasure State. This feature introduces Montanans to Skinner Sights in St. Ignatius. Click the featured image above to view the Montana Business Spotlight from Skinner Sights.
ST. IGNATIUS, Mont. — When Andy Larrson purchased Skinner Sights in August 2010, it was because he was setting his own sights on new goals.
A self-described outdoorsman, Larrson found himself to be talented in the workshop, leading to a variety of jobs, including gunsmith. While away for college, Larrson found employment as a mechanic and gunsmith, and upon returning to Montana, he opened a small archery shop while again finding time to gunsmith on the side.
Fast forward through years of competitive shooting, and Larrson was presented with an opportunity — acquiring Skinner Sights from Dr. Tim Skinner. A longtime high school math teacher and principal, Skinner opened his one-man business creating sights with a small lathe and mill.
Both Larrson and Skinner recognized the potential for Skinner Sights to expand.
Upon purchase, Larrson relocated the business from Ronan to St. Ignatius and aimed to grow the business. Today, Skinner Sights has expanded at the base of the Mission Mountains with multiple locals now employed to assist Larrson and his wife, Sheila, with crafting accurate sights while carrying on the tradition and legacy first started by Skinner.
Skinner Sights is now trusted by individuals and organizations around the world. Popular brands like Henry Repeating Arms have trusted Skinner Sights with the development of sight solutions for their firearms.
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen sat down with Andy and Sheila Larrson to highlight their successful business and discuss the benefits of doing business in Montana.
SECRETARY JACOBSEN: Andy and Sheila, tell me, what is your favorite part about doing business in Montana? What makes doing business in Montana so special to you?
ANDY: “You want to start or do you want me to? I like doing business in Montana because it’s authentic and it’s magical. We have great employees, they’re honest and loyal and hardworking. And the products that we make fit into our lifestyle. We’re an outdoor sports company, so when we talk about something to use in the case of like a bear attack or something, which some of our guns are used, some of our sights are used in those, so (when we say) defends outdoor things, people believe us because (Sheila) was mowing the yard with bear spray on the mower.
But as far as the regulations here, (they) are so friendly, and the economic packages, if you want to call it that – I don’t know what the right term is. But the opportunities here, the tax structures are pretty really for us and it makes it makes it so that we can be profitable.
Plus, one more thing, I guess, almost all of our product goes out of the state and we sell all over the country and all over the world. So as our product is made here, it sells elsewhere. All that income revenue comes back to Montana. So, we’re putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in the local economy of our little town of a thousand people through the employees that we have and all of our local shopping and the other business that we do here.
And we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, would we?”
SHEILA: “No, we’re proud of it. It never gets old, people’s reaction when we talk about being from Montana, they just light up, and that’s a good feeling. It’s an awesome place to be and we don’t want to be anywhere else.”
ANDY: “Plus, for our industry, we’re a firearm-oriented industry and this is a very firearm friendly state. And people here understand that, so it’s a shoo-in that way as well.”
SHEILA: “You’re not swimming upstream against any of that, so that’s very nice.
ANDY: “And really the interaction we have with the state government is small. We really don’t have a lot of regulations. We have to do all of our employee payroll and unemployment and all those things, mostly just the standard things, but it’s reasonable and it’s very user friendly. When we talk to some of our friends from out of state that are operating businesses in other states …
SHEILA: “… we just got back from somewhere that, their state is not that friendly at all. So, that was another thing they were talking about how blessed we are to not have to have to deal with that. We are so lucky here in Montana.”
ANDY: “Right. And the hoops that they have to jump through, just silly things, you know? There are just a lot of burdensome regulations on them that we don’t have here. It’s very friendly and the state is really working with us. We were just talking about this new machine we’re going to bring in just like this one, with a robot like this one, automation – and our state is encouraging us to do that, giving us some incentives to put it in place. I heard yesterday, there is a state that is taxing companies that put a robot in, they’re making them pay a tax as if it was a human. For every human hour that they’re replacing, they’re making them pay a tax. We’re having a hard time getting enough workers to come in and do the work, so it’s going to definitely be a big help to us to make it so we’re successful, profitable.”
SECRETARY JACOBSEN: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and thank you for doing business in Montana.
ANDY: “Thanks for coming by. We feel privileged to have your team here to spend time with us.”
To learn more about Skinner Sights, please visit their website at www.skinnersights.com.