Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Live Free or Die"

With “Pirates” I have intentionally avoided crossovers between professional exploits and personal adventures, but sometimes an experience is significant enough that it affects both aspects of one’s life.

I returned Friday from a road trip that would have me steal away at 3:00am Tuesday morning and travel 11 hours across 9 States to a small New England town in New Hampshire.

Just so everyone understands where I’m coming from, I’m a southern boy, born & bred, and up until this week Atlantic City New Jersey was as far up the coast as I had ever ventured, and I readily acknowledge no previous desire of traveling further north.

While categorizing the nature of the trip is somewhat difficult, I would describe the experience as a cross between a “business trip” and ”training opportunity” with a healthy dose of “customer appreciation” as our sales rep Ken and Senior Instructor Scott catered to our every need and went well beyond the call of duty.

Exeter New Hampshire is home to “Sig Sauer” who manufactures firearms for customers ranging from private citizens to Law Enforcement and elite military units.

The Company has grown exponentially in the last few years from 90 or so employees to over 400.

During our brief visit to Exeter and the Sig Sauer facility we would have the opportunity of touring the factory, meeting with the Vice President of the company, shooting prototype firearms that “don’t exist” and cannot be named here, and participating in some training at the Sig Sauer Academy.

In short, the company rolled out the red carpet for our merry band of travelers.

That being said, this post is not a sales’ pitch for Sig Sauer, but more of an “ode” to the hardnosed employees who work for the company and represent the greater population of New Hampshire whose state motto is “Live Free or Die”.

As we meandered through the quaint downtown area of Exeter weary from our 11 hour haul I couldn’t help but identify with the small town vibe that reminded me of the country towns my wife and I so love throughout Virginia.
Downtown Exeter
Pickup trucks with lift kits and large wheels rolled by interspersed with Subaru Outback’s, and a healthy contingent of helmetless Harley riders whose exhaust pipes rumbled the glass windows as they passed.

A significant number of cyclists spun through town as well, as did several folks out for an afternoon’s run.

From an outsiders perspective Exeter appears to be an outdoor oriented, physically active town.

A short drive from downtown sits the Sig Sauer HQ and manufacturing plant where Sig Sauer firearms are engineered, honed, and fabricated, with almost all of the pieces and parts being created right there at the plant. That’s right, “Made in the USA”.

Sig Academy Pro Shop

Custom Sig Academy P-226
Previously I had mentioned what activities we were privy to during our trip but what struck me the most out of all of our opportunities was the tour of the Sig Sauer facility.

If ever there was an example of a physical structure taking on the presence of the people who worked inside the confines of its walls, it would be Sig Sauer.

I have never experienced the sense of pride that I encountered as I walked through that facility. It was as if the halls of the building resonated with the confidence and commitment of the people within.

That’s not an exaggeration.

In a time where outsourcing is the norm, and quality has taken a back seat to quantity, the employees at Sig are the personification of American pride that has been lost in so many aspects of our daily lives.

This pride was identified by a no-bullshit stance that could almost be labeled as arrogant were it not for the fact that you could see the honesty and integrity in every worker’s eyes.

This “portrait of America” sported monster goatees and endless tattoos under the backdrop of heavy metal music as it thumped through the bays throughout the factory.

Fabrication….heavy metal

Firearms range….heavy metal

Quality control….heavy metal

Firearms and rock & roll…Damn right

Front to Back; Tactical II .308 with can/ SSG conversion .22/ SSG 3000 .308 with can 

Messing about with the Sig  516 5.56mm
The people of Sig Sauer, from the guys on the floor working 7 days a week producing quality American firearms, to the Instructors out on the sun baked ranges of the Academy provided me with a supercharged stoke that I am still trying to wrap my mind around and am having difficulty conveying into words.

But then those words have already been written through time …

“Live Free or Die”

There is no better moniker for the pride I felt in the people of New Hampshire.

Special thanks to the following;

Ken, Scott, Jesse, Airborne with the 7.62, I don’t recall your name but thanks again…