In Conversation with…Pim De Waard
Gun Trade World talks to Pim De Waard, the passionate Dutch long-range rifle expert, to find out how business is going through 2020 and into 2021.
What inspired you to start Pirosport?
It was actually a childhood dream to one day make firearms, or any other stuff that shoots for that matter. As a sports shooter I was already tinkering on guns and one day I noticed I was fixing other people’s weapons as well. I decided I was going to be gunsmith and got the necessary papers to do that. Funny enough the government in the Netherlands requires you to start a gunshop in order to handle them….so next thing I knew I had a shop. I now have a partner running the sales department so luckily, I am still mostly working and inventing in my workshop, but I do enjoy helping and advising customers as well.
How would you describe your style of business management?
To be honest I am your typical slightly chaotic, easily distracted, passionate and ambitious inventor, but I do have a commercial look at things as well. We like to serve shooters and the motto of our gun shop (PIROSPORT) is “service for shooters”. Along the way we somehow found ourselves specializing more and more in precision rifles. So, I guess you could say my “regular job” is repairing, rebarreling, selling, importing-exporting and customizing anything that shoots, with a focus on (LR) precision rifles. My other business (daughter company) Dutch Long Arms has an entirely different approach. Here I can be the inventor with a passion for long range shooting, while still maintaining a commercial look at things.
How is Coronavirus currently impacting business?
That dreaded virus has had a lot of effect. Not only did the measures taken by the authorities affect sales of the gun shop considerably, it had quite some impact on myself as well. In February I was slightly fluish for three days, but then a considerable time after that it really hit hard. As it turned out on the long run my immune system was attacked causing me to be crashed for two months in a row and to this day I am still recovering. Luckily, I was able to transform my bed into a design studio and I used my time to design lots of other stuff.
What were your biggest business challenges in 2020?
Well, recovering mostly. And from more than one point of view. Although sales went down I still had a lot of rifles to make, repair, rebarrel and otherwise customize. Although this maintained a reasonable level of income for us, me being out of order caused quite a bit of a delay in my workshop. When work comes in faster than you can get it out, you tend to look at it with anxiety when you are unable to work at all. A luxury problem I guess, but as I like to say a problem nonetheless.
What are your key business objectives for 2021?
I would love to shift my attention to establishing more recognition as a brand (Dutch Long Arms) and, as a consequence, the production industry. Although I love my shop, my true passion is and always will be developing firearm related stuff. Recently we entered a few substantial military tenders where I found myself adapting some of my products to the specific needs of the end users. I still am involved in sales a lot, but if it were up to me I would be left in a machine shop and then come out every once and a while with new products that someone else can sell. Luckily, I am blessed with very capable business associates so that dream is not that far away.
What are the current hot products for your business and what do you see as the next ‘big thing’ for 2021 and beyond?
The Hyperion Tac passive adjustable scope mount gained a lot more interest than expected. In fact, we managed to increase the production somewhat so we expect to be offering them at a more competitive price soon. Next to that I am working on a more conventional rifle action with a Remington 700 footprint, but with a different primary extraction mechanism and some other innovative features. The intention is to not only sell these as a rifle, but also (preferably mostly) as rifle actions for other gunsmiths to use for a custom rifle build. Last but not least (and because a week has 8 days) I am working on an innovative .22 LR rifle. However, the latter one not from a commercial perspective, but simply because I think it’s a fun project.
What business changes have you recently made to ensure future growth?
I keep developing new products and broadening my view on the more international horizon. Holland is a small pond to fish in and even with the growing long range community it remains a niche market. I’m therefor also looking at hunting and other types of firearms use. Needless to say we are also open to business for professionals in the L.E & M market and I am looking at ways to offer my expertise in order to design products tailor made for specific end users.
Where do you see Pirosport in five years’ time?
I hope we will have grown significantly by then, with the focus on developing and manufacturing innovative firearm products. However, in order to keep a feel on the market and simply because I enjoy it, I hope my regular gun shop will have also thrived. I would love to see my manufacturing company as significant, but still small enough not to get swamped in huge manufacturing issues so we can keep a focus on developing new and hopefully ground-breaking products