ERIE — Magpul Industries is departing for Texas and Wyoming, but it’s not leaving Colorado entirely.
The company, which designs and manufactures firearms accessories, announced Thursday that it plans to relocate 92 percent of its business out of state while keeping a toehold in Colorado in order to fight the state Democrats’ gun-control agenda.
Magpul’s manufacturing facility will relocate to Cheyenne, while its corporate office will move to one of three locations under review in North Central Texas. Both of those facilities are now in Erie, along with a workforce of about 200 employees.
“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” said Magpul CEO Richard Fitzpatrick in a statement. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”
But Magpul, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by 55 county sheriffs against the bill limiting ammunition-magazine capacity to 15 rounds, isn’t deserting the battle in Colorado.
“We made a commitment publicly that we would not abandon the law-abiding gun owners in our own state, and we want to honor that,” said Duane Liptak, Magpul director of product management and marketing.
Magpul’s intention to move was no secret—company officials announced in March that they would leave in reaction to the Democratic state legislature’s passage of gun-control bills—and the company had many out-of-state officials vying for its business.
In the end, however, Texas and Wyoming best met the Magpul’s criteria, which included “business friendliness, political stability, and respect for our company values: individual freedoms and personal responsibility,” said Chief Operating Officer Doug Smith.
Things might have turned out differently if the state legislature had waited another year, or even another few months. A year ago, Mr. Smith said the rapidly growing company was making plans to build a state-of-the-art facility in Broomfield.
But the magazine bill was a game-changer. Magpul officials became convinced that even the bill’s Democratic sponsors were unclear on the legislation’s meaning, thus exposing the company to risk.
Democrats tweaked the bill to address some of Magpul’s concerns, while Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a signing statement to clarify the bill’s intention, but in some ways that actually made it worse.
“[That] clearly exemplified in our mind that there was confusion around what the bill said,” said Smith. “Companies always have to work to manage and mitigate risk, and risk of this type, we have to eliminate. Our concern going forward is that through rulemaking or some other means, legislators would move the effect of the bill closer to the original language.”
Magpul has its roots in Colorado. Fitzpatrick, who served as a sergeant in the Marines’ Force Recon, started the company in 1999 out of his basement in Longmont, designing a plastic loop and pouch that could be attached to a soldier’s gear. It was named the “magpul” because it allowed a magazine to be pulled out easily under stress.
Within 12 to 16 months, all but roughly 8 percent of the company’s workforce will be outside Colorado. Magpul plans to lease a 58,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Cheyenne during construction of its 100,000-square-foot custom facility in the Cheyenne Business Parkway.
“Wyoming and Magpul are a great match,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican. “Bringing an innovative and growing manufacturing operation to Wyoming is a significant step for the state. We offer Magpul an attractive tax environment, stable and reasonable regulations, not to mention a firm commitment to uphold the Second Amendment.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement that he’s reached out to more than 30 firearms manufacturers in states that are “considering restricting sales and manufacturing in the industry.”
“In Texas, we understand that freedom breeds prosperity, which is why we’ve built our economy around principles that allow employers to innovate and keep more of what they earn,” said Perry, also a Republican. “I’m proud that Magpul is the latest employer to join the ranks of companies that call Texas home.”