To our valued customers,
Thank you for your continued support. Our company has experienced immense growth which would not have been possible without you. Because of you, we’re stronger than ever and proud to be able to continue supporting the Second Amendment.
What follows below is a statement to address some concerns we’ve seen sprout online, as well as address some misinformation. We’ve tried to provide a level of transparency to the community and a view into our business we’ve never done before. We hope you take the time to read it, but we understand if you’re just here to see an order status update.
2020 has been an unprecedented year for our business and the firearm’s industry in general. We take a lot of pride in the values and traditions that have allowed our small family-owned business to become the world’s largest supplier of 80% products.
However, we owe our customers a sincere apology for the speed at which our operation has responded to this increasing demand and for failing to keep you abreast of changes that impacted your orders. We were caught off guard by this exponential growth and are working hard to resolve the issues within our business to meet your needs and improve correspondence and shipment times. We also want to take a moment to address what we believe is a growing amount of incorrect speculation appearing on social media and forums.
Coming into 2020 our internal goals to satisfy our customers and provide best-in-class service included:
- Ship 98% of orders within 24 business hours or less. We hit that goal consistently until around March of this year.
- Respond to all customer inquiries within 24 hours. We hit this metric consistently until about February of this year.
Here’s an example of our correspondence support ticket volume from February 2020. If anything, we overstaffed our customer service because we take a lot of pride in reduced wait times, outstanding outcomes, and quick turnarounds.
Blue = Support Tickets Queued | Green = Support Tickets Completed
Customer Support Inquiries: Month of February
As you can see from these peaks and valleys, we managed to clear any backlog consistently within a day or two. We experienced a 99% customer satisfaction rating during this period. Based on our previous years experience and historical seasonal industry trends, even during election seasons, a seasonal slowdown or very modest growth in order volume and customer inquiries was likely in the following months.
Our thought, incorrect as it was, was that demand would normalize as the normal summer sales slowdown took place throughout the industry. We ran considerable overtime, reallocated capacity, and worked diligently on a catch-up plan. Then, as riots started breaking out around the country, and aggressive anti-gun political sentiment reared its ugly head, demand skyrocketed further.
In addition, much of the demand is being driven by first-time gun buyers who are often looking to us for additional guidance. We’ve prided ourselves on being a resource for people looking to build their first firearm, and it was clear we were not keeping up with this mission.
Even as we consistently broke records in our efforts to satisfy customer inquiries with new staff, it wasn’t enough to stem the tide:
Customer Support Inquiries: Month of July
In response to this unprecedented and sustained increase in demand that continued into July, we are doubling our customer service staff once again.
Why not just hire dozens more people?
It’s a fair question. We consider our employees like family. We pride ourselves on our Made in America factory, in California of all places. We have a tough hiring process because we want people here for years; not for weeks or months. We want staff that shares our Second Amendment values and are knowledgeable about firearms. If things slow down tomorrow, we don’t want to break this company’s tradition of never performing a large layoff. While we’ve shared some insight into our Customer Service challenges, these challenges carry through all aspects of our business.
As the industry leader, we are here for the long haul to support our customers and our products, and we also know that this industry experiences peaks and valleys; we don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the many companies that found themselves in financial hardship after miscalculating the result of the 2016 election.
Plugging in people and increasing capacity sounds easy, but quality suffers if you don’t have the right people with the right training performing each role. This is our company’s position, imperfect as it is. We want people here for years who understand the mission and how to deliver outstanding products. Our Operations Manager is a Marine, as is our Shipping Manager, and our lead Armorer. Rarely will you get an order that has not been handled by a veteran.
Why not just ship orders faster to reduce customer service inquiries?
We’ve been shipping orders faster, but we are still playing catch-up. We’ve dramatically increased our output with more CNC machines, and more CNC machine operators.
New Rows of CNC Machines Being Added to the Shop Floor
We’ve purchased more state of the art CNC machines that operate faster than anything we’ve had before. We’ve added rows of new CNC machines increasing the number of machines in our shop by 40% to meet the surging demand. Each time we think we’ve increased capacity sufficiently, the demand increases further.
We’ve also been manufacturing our products 24/7 during 2020. We are operating every single day. We even operated through holidays to the chagrin of our families. Whether you drive by our plant at 3:00 in the afternoon or 3:00 in the morning, you will hear the sounds of our machines operating nonstop. We can’t thank our team enough for their sacrifice to catch up during this time.
The GST-9 Release Delays, and an Update
We experienced a level of overconfidence as we started taking preorders in November of 2019 expecting to ship ahead of our estimated release date to the public. We were working with experienced partners and vendors and it all seemed so easy.
First, the good news. We think we’ve cracked the supply chain issues that have led us to produce at a trickle of what we expected, and get us to a solid stream. We believe we will finally produce in the thousands each week by September. That means all orders will be caught up very quickly. Again, quality is of the utmost importance to us and if we don’t find the quality acceptable, we will let you know. We can’t allow anything to go out the door that won’t be a gun for life.
Note that we also provide a lifetime guarantee on our products. Should you have any concerns or issues, we will take care of it. Period. The risk to you, as the customer, simply isn’t there. Our policies were created with the goal of building lifelong relationships.
Where did things go wrong? A few places:
- We encountered vendors, and backup vendors, who were unable to supply the volume and/or quality we required. This resulted in substantial delays and rework to meet our exacting standards and volume requirements despite our best efforts expediting alternative solutions. Some of the vendors’ inability to meet their delivery commitments to us was a result of COVID-19, which neither the vendors nor we could have imagined when we started working with them well before the pandemic started.
- When we found any quality or durability issues with a run, our only option was to reject the lot. We simply could not risk our reputation for quality in an effort to get products out the door faster.
- We believed we could quickly increase production, and that turned out not to be the case. We kept thinking we were on the right track, so our communication early on backfired as we attempted to be as transparent as possible. We relied on dates and commitments from vendors who relied on other vendors who through supply chain disruptions, lock-downs, and reduced staffing due to COVID-19 eventually pushed us well past our expected delivery dates.
- Near the end, injection molding equipment had to be changed out to reliably boost capacity while maintaining the quality we demanded.
- We failed to learn our lesson when the dates fell through and rather than increase communication, we decreased communication in effort to avoid inadvertently promising a date we could not deliver on. We were too optimistic about lead times, and should have informed you along the way of the setbacks so there were no surprises. We will strive to do better.
- We substantially underestimated demand for the product. Our conservative mindset backfired on us. We knew we had a winner on our hands, but we were caught off guard by the overwhelming demand. (Thank you!)
So while we’re optimistic we’re now over the above hurdles, we will be sure to share with you timely information as it happens which can have an impact on the timeline for shipping GST-9 orders.
Will the Gen 3 Jig Delay the GST-9?
Absolutely not! This jig was actually redesigned back in January by a separate engineering team. The Gen 3 jig is made on CNC machines in our shop, whereas the GST-9 is manufactured at a different location using an entirely different manufacturing process called Injection Molding. Gen 3 production has NO impact on our GST-9 lead times.
We want to address some of the misinformation posted online about our company, provide more transparency, and eliminate some of the rumors. We have only ourselves to blame for this, as we have not been as diligent as we should have been about our efforts to communicate. These questions were gathered from a variety of sources. While some of these seem outlandish to us, it’s the result of not providing the public with more frequent updates. From where we sit, again, we only have ourselves to blame and now need to set the record straight.
Q: “They [80% Arms] are insolvent and won’t ship your products.”
A: Unequivocally false. We are in the strongest position we’ve ever been in, and are shipping hundreds of orders a day. Our address is 12272 Monarch St, Garden Grove, CA. Drive by our manufacturing plant on any day of the week, at any hour, and you will hear our machines buzzing!
Q: “If they are shipping, why are so many people not getting their orders?
A: All orders are being shipped. While we are shipping daily the highest number of orders in our history, we have been receiving at times more orders than we can manufacture. This creates a backlog of orders and justifiably so, unhappy customers who post their grievances online about waiting longer than expected for their orders to arrive. This creates an impression that orders are not shipping, when in fact they are. (Just talk to the FedEx and USPS drivers who load up their trucks here every day.)
We’re working to implement new systems so customers can have much better time estimates of when their orders will be shipped. We should have done this once we saw that normal seasonal trends were being shattered, and hard. We deserve the criticism for lack of communication, but rest assured every single order is being manufactured and shipped as fast as possible.
Q: “80% Arms won’t let me cancel an old order.”
A: Again, FALSE. We never hold anyone’s money hostage. In addition, we have one of the best guarantees in the industry. If you want to cancel your order, you are able to do that at any time (though we hope you don’t!). Your order guarantees your place in our manufacturing queue and that you will get your product. But if for whatever reason you change your mind, you will get a prompt refund. As we mentioned earlier, the number of sheer inquiries from customers looking to learn more about our products has never been greater. While we do our best to prioritize changes to orders (including cancels), there may be a delay in responding to these requests. All of these requests will be honored.
Q: “Why Can’t I Get My Questions Answered?”
A: We are working on boosting our support staff (again) as quickly as we can find qualified candidates. As we’ve outlined above, the support ticket volume is still outpacing our capacity to answer questions in a timely manner, but your questions will be answered. Rest assured that we’ve also never had an order in our system left unshipped, and we don’t plan to start now.
We thank you for your patience as we continue to increase our staffing to adjust to these extraordinary market conditions.
ORDER STATUS INFO
Each backordered product will have a detailed status on its corresponding product page. You will see an estimated timeframe, based on what we are currently shipping, listed at the top of the description. Please be aware, this is the busiest the firearms industry has ever been. We have increased our staffing in all departments, enlarged our machine shop, and are running 24/7.
Your orders are our top priority during these turbulent times.
Please note, that if you have multiple items in your order, they will all ship together.