AcuSport to be sold amid bankruptcy filing

AcuSport Logo

AcuSport Corporation announced Tuesday that the company is being sold as it proceeds through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The Bellefontaine-based nationwide firearms distributor has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Ellett Brothers LLC, a subsidiary of the hunting, outdoor and marine products distributor United Sporting Companies Inc.

Meanwhile Gearfire, a provider of digital commerce products and services for the firearm industry, is acquiring AcuSport’s V6 and AXIS point of sale software applications.

According to a press release filed Tuesday, AcuSport has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which will allow the company to continue to function as an auction of its assets proceeds, in which United — the “stalking horse bidder” — could be outbid by other interested buyers.

“We believe today’s Chapter 11 filing, in conjunction with the United asset purchase agreement, is the best path forward for our employees, customers and vendors. We plan to accommodate the needs of our customers to the greatest degree possible through our sales and customer service teams,” William L. Fraim, Chief Executive Officer of AcuSport, said in the press release.

The local firearms company’s workforce has already been reduced by 32 full-time employees, according to the release, but the remainder of employees will be paid without further interruption through the bankruptcy protection process.

Manufacturers, vendors and suppliers will also continue to be paid and AcuSport will provide periodic reporting on the process. They will not, however, buy any new inventory during the bankruptcy process.

The auction and subsequent closing is expected to take 45 to 60 days from the bankruptcy filing, according to a list of frequently asked questions. When the sale is complete, the new owners will then have the option to extend job offers to existing employees.

United Sporting Companies said in a press release that it intends to maintain local employment if it is the successful buyer.

“USC intends to acquire and operate AcuSport’s distribution center and related systems in Bellefontaine, Ohio, and will assume the leases for the satellite distribution center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and its Waite Park, Minn., sales office.

USC expects to offer employment to a significant number of AcuSport employees at the time of closing. USC has also offered to buy any remaining inventory from AcuSport’s creditors,” the statement reads.

“United Sporting Companies is pleased to be acquiring the state-of-the-art distribution capabilities of AcuSport and to provide employment to a significant number of its employees. We believe this purchase will allow us to combine the best of AcuSport and United Sporting Companies to create the industry’s leading shooting sports distribution company,” USC CEO Brad Johnson said.

The Gearfire sale include digital point of sale assets and will position the new company to improve its online services, company President J.W. Shultz said in its release.

“Gearfire team has taken a leadership role in the delivery of software solutions that integrate firearm manufacturing and distribution with retail operations, both in-store and via eCommerce,” the executive said. “With Gearfire now driving the AXIS POS platform, it will provide the industry with a seamless inventory management, ordering, POS and eCommerce solution designed to significantly improve the customer experience and drive retail sales.”

AcuSport began as a home-based firearms distributor started by Paul Wammes in the 1960s and assumed its corporate identity in the 1980s after acquisition by John Berry. The company built its 120,000-square-foot distribution center in 1990 and has continued to grow.

Recently, however, the company has been hit with reduced demand for firearms since the election of President Donald Trump.

Also, AcuSport invested in a state-of-the-art robotic inventory system, dramatically reducing need for new employees, according to a March report from the Logan County Tax Incentive Review Committee.

AcuSport had said it would have 301 employees at the end of 2017. Instead, there are 171 employees. Payroll projections fell short by more than $1.5 million, coming in at slightly more than $4.8 million.

However, the company’s real property investment was $15.8 million, more than twice as much as the expected $7 million.

United Sporting Companies reports it currently distributes more than 85,000 different products to 30,000 retailers nationwide through its two main subsidiaries, Ellet Brothers and Jerry’s Sport Center, which were founded in 1933 and 1949, respectively.

Additional information about the bankruptcy process and sale is available at www.donlinrecano.com/acusport