Traders News Source Senior Editor, Mark Roberts Interviews Fred W. Wagenhals, CEO & Chairman AMMO, Inc. (NASDAQ: POWW)
Fred W. Wagenhals, CEO & Chairman AMMO, Inc. (NASDAQ: POWW)
AMMO, a technology leader and premier American ammunition and munition components manufacturer, was founded by legendary American entrepreneur, inventor and visionary Fred Wagenhals in 2016. AMMO designs and manufactures products for a variety of markets including law enforcement, military, sport shooting, and self-defense. The company was founded with a single vision — to change, innovate and invigorate the complacent munitions industry.
AMMO promotes branded munitions, including its patented STREAK™ Visual Ammunition, the /stelTH/ subsonic munitions, O.W.L. Technologies®, and Night OPS (One Precise Shot) a lead-free frangible tactical line of munitions for self-defense. The company’s corporate offices are headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. Manufacturing operations are based in the U.S.; Payson, Arizona and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Prior to AMMO, Inc., Wagenhals was the powerhouse marketer, designer, promoter, and manufacturer in the world of motorsports as founder of Action Performance Companies, Inc. At Action, Wagenhals shaped the company by negotiating long-term, exclusive licenses with motorsports’ most popular drivers and teams by using diverse distribution channels and creating innovative and strategic branding; and, by maintaining an outstanding reputation for creativity, quality and authenticity.
In just nine short years, Wagenhals catapulted Action Performance from three employees working around a card table to more than $407 million in sales and over $45 million in profits. There was no one in the motorsports industry that was even close to what Wagenhals was creating with Action Performance Companies.
Action Performance produced die-cast miniature race car replicas sold through a collectors’ club at racing venues and through other mainstream distribution channels. Action also manufactured various racing souvenirs such as miniature replica drivers’ helmets, and sold racing-style clothing including t-shirts, leather jackets, and baseball caps for children, teens and adults.
The company’s enormous growth came in the 1990s as interest in stock car racing skyrocketed in the U.S. There were few other companies serving this niche market and Action Performance took advantage of its marketing acumen and rode the wave of racing popularity by strategically buying other companies and continually exceeding unique marketing expectations.
At the onset, Wagenhals clearly understood that for Action Performance Companies to get the significant funding it needed to be successful, he had to secure the rights to reproduce the most revered car in NASCAR — driver Dale Earnhardt’s black “number three.” Wagenhals sold his home, moved into a small apartment and paid Mr. Earnhardt his last $300,000, his personal bank account was now depleted – a fearless, but strategic move by Wagenhals that paid off significantly in time. Wagenhals knew he now had a corner on what would be a booming market.
By 1996, more sports enthusiasts and the general population were following professional auto racing than any other sport in the U.S. Action’s growth continued to soar as its sales climbed. Wagenhals continued to build the brand and expand his company by acquiring more related companies. Action also established a critical alliance with giant toymaker Hasbro in 1996. The two companies develop a line of highly popular and successful racing toys called Winner’s Circle.
Action Performance also acquired a marketing and distribution firm called Sports Image Inc., owned by NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt. Sales for 1996 exceeded expectations, increasing to more than $44 million from $26 million the previous year. This significant increase in sales was accompanied by a doubling of net income.
By 1998, Action had positioned itself as one of the major toy makers in the United States. NASCAR toys were said to be the third bestselling item in the entire toy industry, and Action Performance had approximately 60 percent of the NASCAR market. Wagenhals successfully navigated Action Performance onto the NYSE and in 2005 he sold the company for more than $245 million.
Wagenhals received the Entrepreneur Award from The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Inc. in 1997 – it’s sponsors included Ernst & Young LLP, the Kauffman Foundation, the NASDAQ Stock Market, and USA Today. Wagenhals also received the Anheuser-Busch Entrepreneur in Residence Award (1997-98) from the University of Arizona College of Business and Public Administration.
Now, as CEO at AMMO, Wagenhals and his experienced team negotiated a successful buyout of the assets of an ammunition manufacturing facility, ATAC, LLC, in 2016 and took ownership of the Payson, Arizona factory. The 25,000 plus square-foot, high-tech munitions factory can produce more than 100,000,000 rounds annually. The loading machines were upgraded with proprietary technology which increased productivity and quality. The Payson AMMO facility is also home to one of the premiere testing labs in the world. This was a strategic component to ensure the products would always outperform the competition through rigorous and propriety testing procedures.
To maintain the strength of its brands and drive strong revenue growth, the company invests in product innovation and technology to improve product performance, quality and affordability. AMMO uses only the optimum American made components and manufactures all products in the U.S. – either in Payson, Arizona or Manitowoc, Wisconsin and every round is meticulously inspected by U.S. citizens.
Ammo, Inc., continues to be a technology leader and premier American manufacturer, designer, and marketer of performance-driven, high-quality and innovative ammunition products, in the commercial and military markets worldwide. AMMO invests in product innovation and superior technology to improve performance, quality and affordability while providing exceptional support to its retail partners and dedicated consumers.
A native of Marion, Ohio, Wagenhals was Action’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, who, for more than 20 years, has distinguished himself as an accomplished inventor and entrepreneur. By the age of 21, Wagenhals established his reputation as an innovator with the various inventions he designed, built and patented. Those inventions included a two-man, jet-pumped boat design used in jet ski watercrafts; 1:3-scale, gas-powered mini-cars used in various television shows and films; and, a computerized motor that powered the mechanical bulls popularized by the 1980 move Urban Cowboy.
Through his business acumen, Wagenhals became a major force in motorsports. He is widely recognized as one of the industry’s most influential personalities. At Action Performance, he shaped the company by negotiating long-term, exclusive licenses with motorsports’ most popular drivers and teams; by using diverse distribution channels and disciplined branding; and, by maintaining an outstanding reputation for creativity, quality and authenticity.
In those 12 years Action Performance embodies Wagenhals’ entrepreneurial drive and innovative spirit. Over those 12 years Action Performance Companies product sales grew to over $400 million dollars in sales per year. Action was sold in 2005 for $245 million dollars.
Wagenhals is a 1997 Arizona Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipient for the Retail/Wholesale Category. He also was honored as the Anheuser Busch Entrepreneur in Residence for 1997 – 98 at the University of Arizona College of Business and Public Administration.
In 2010 Wagenhals was inducted into The Die-Cast Hall of Fame. In 2011 Wagenhals was named Professor of the Year for teaching a sports entrepreneurship class at the University of Arizona. Recently, Wagenhals has been involved in numerous projects ranging from real estate development to global digital print service for turnkey technical companies.
Thank you for giving us your time to answer our questions.
Could you give us a brief overview of your company, segments and revenue streams?
Page 4 on the investor deck outlines the Company history.
Page 5 on the investor deck outlines the two segments and its revenue streams.
OUTDOOR ONLINE/ACTION OUTDOOR SPORTS ignore those titles it should Read “Gun Broker and Ammo.”
FYE 2022 was a successful year for POWW looking at both the top and bottom line. Congratulations! The company’s value appears to be lacking when conventional valuation metrics are applied. Why do you think that is the case?
I think the overall markets are down of course. But investors are truly missing the value of the 2
segments. GB with $50 million Adj EBITDA at a 15 multiple which is very low for our marketplace should be $750 million valuation. Ammo with close to $50 million adj EBITDA at an 8 multiple would be nearly $400 million. We also get lumped into the gun space even though we don’t manufacture any guns and they carry a lower multiple.
What is your perspective on the guns and ammo market(s) you are in now and into 2023?
Continued growth is how we see the industry last year 5.6 million new shooters were added in the US. Continued conflicts around the world will keep demand high. Also, Biden has banned all Russian ammo imports.
POWW recently opened a large ammo manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. How will that facility impact overall production and add to revenues?
We will go from 350 million to close to a billion rounds. Blended mix we hope to avg $.40 to $.45 a
POWW has announced a plan to split the company into two distinct entities. What would those two companies look like post-split?
How would the proposed split company impact current shareholders?
The distribution is intended to be tax-free to both companies and their shareholders for U.S. federal
income tax purposes. It’s a 1-1 divided. Shareholders would own their current share and get an
additional share of the new Company.
POWW manufactures proprietary and standard ammo. What is the bestselling ammo produced by the company?
Standard 9, 223, 300 blk and Streak in all pistol calibers and stealth “proprietary”
POWW recently announced an e-payment platform and a marketing/data analytics suite to be operational early in 2023. Where will those new businesses fall post company split and can you describe the marketing plan for those new businesses?
As we announced we plan to Launch 1/1/23 that may or may not be before the split.
A shareholder has challenged the plan to split the company. Would you comment on that?
We can’t at this time.
Aside from the proposed company split, what near term catalyst at POWW could be the biggest benefit to shareholders?
If you look at the several announcements, you can see all of the hard work we have done. From the GB side we are adding marketing and analytics to generate additional revenue, payment processing and carting ability in the near future that we believe can have a major impact on revenue and profits in 2023.
From the Ammo side we completed construction of the new facility and will double our current
output. We are very proud of all these segments of our business.
Thank you Fred,
The Traders News Team