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SHERIDAN, Wyo. — After purchasing his 30th “usable piece of art,” Ivan Stalick was thrilled.

“It’s an exciting time,” he said, grinning broadly while carrying a long, narrow cardboard box with the name Weatherby printed in large type.

Stalick was one of thousands of people who would visit Weatherby Inc. on Thursday for the company’s grand opening. Weatherby is known for manufacturing rifles and shotguns, but also makes ammunition and shooting accessories.

To commemorate its relocation to Wyoming from California, Weatherby made 36 special Sheridan rifles. The .240 caliber rifle Stalick bought has the town’s name etched on the floor plate. The firearm will now hold a special place in Stalick’s collection, but he also plans to shoot the gun.

Weatherby's Grand Opening in Sheridan, Wyo.

Owners Brenda and Adam Weatherby, center, pose for pictures with people from regional businesses at the grand opening of Weatherby's facility in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Thursday.

New home

Located just west of Interstate 90, Weatherby announced its move from Paso Robles, California, to Wyoming in 2018. Since then it’s been a tense time for the company’s chief executive officer, Adam Weatherby.

“Lately I feel like I’ve been a wedding coordinator, you know, planning a party,” he joked after greeting visitors and posing for photos outside the expansive facility.

“We just make guns and sell them, so this is kind of new for us,” he said.

He spoke while standing between a row of 11 conservation group booths and local food trucks as a live band played in the driveway. Youngsters walked or stood in line with cardboard antlers crowning their heads.

The event is a culmination of the company’s nationwide search for a new headquarters and place to manufacture that began in 2014, narrowing it down to six states. After deciding on Sheridan, the company began hiring new employees. For 50 openings, Weatherby said 3,500 people applied.

Tour

Jordan Davis was one of those applying. The Sheridan resident was working across the street at a vacuum manufacturing company when he sought a job at Weatherby. After four rounds of interviews he was hired as a product manager. On Thursday he was leading quick tours of the facility, which includes a 100- and 300-yard indoor shooting range in the basement. Although the public wasn’t allowed in the basement, the tour did end in the company’s newly completed lobby.

The high ceiling of the room is adorned with an antler chandelier. On one side of the fireplace a full wolf mount stands growling toward a full African lion mount on the opposite side. Racks of T-shirts, jackets, caps and other Weatherby gear lined shelves. Nearby, a gun showroom has one of every firearm the company has ever made.

The facility and the tours were enough of an attraction for three generations of Dee McClure’s family to attend, including her husband, daughter, sister, brother-in-law and parents.

“We’re all hunters,” she said of her immediate family.

Her daughter, Andrea, won a Weatherby rifle during a recent Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation auction attended by Adam Weatherby.

“So we wanted to come see him,” said Lee, Dee’s husband. “He seemed like a pretty nice feller.”

Weatherby's Grand Opening in Sheridan, Wyo.

Eleven conservation groups set up displays and raffled off gear during the grand opening.

Crowds

Standing at the front of the line to enter the warehouse at 9 a.m. — an enviable spot considering the long column of people that stretched around the side of the building — was 79-year-old Loveland, Colorado, resident Dean Mizer and his wife, Carol. Wearing a National Rifle Association cap, Dean said he had only arrived 15 minutes early to snag the choice position in line. The couple was in the area camping with friends when they heard about the event and decided to visit.

After the tour, Dean said, “I just figured it would be bigger.”

“I think it could be something big in the long run,” Carol added.

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Moving

Adam Weatherby is likely happy he didn’t have a larger company to move.

“I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody I loved,” he said. “It’s a ton of work.”

Fifteen 53-foot-long truckloads of equipment were hauled to the new facility. Only 12 of the company’s 75-member staff moved, 15 new people came from out of state and the rest were hired locally. New hires were sent to California to learn the business. As much as possible, manufacturing was ramped up to increase inventory to help bridge the month when everything was shut down to move.

Why move to Wyoming? Weatherby took a deep breath to answer that question.

“People, first and foremost,” he said. “To have this sort of turnout is representative that we chose the right area. The culture, the outdoor culture, the work ethic, obviously the business climate, the tax climate and then the pro-Second Amendment is what we were looking for.”

He also praised the beauty and access to the nearby Bighorn Mountains and the wildlife the state contains, along with the local college to train graduates that may one day work at Weatherby. Closing out he thanked the state, former governor and local officials for helping to seal the deal.

The $12.5 million building was built with a grant from the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board to the Sheridan County Economic Development Task Force, according to the Associated Press. Weatherby has a 20-year lease to pay back the cost with an option to buy.

For Weatherby fans like Stalick, having the company move to his hometown is thrilling. Fifteen years earlier the “sickness was on” for Stalick when he bought his first rifle, just a hunter who wanted a “pretty rifle.”

“I’ve been collecting Weatherbys for the past 15 years, so it’s a pretty special thing for them to move to town.”

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