New Look, New Leadership at Martin Archery

Less than a month after the assets of Martin Archery, Inc. of Walla Walla, Wash. were acquired by Southern-California-based Diversis Capital LLC, the manufacturing company started in 1951 by the late archery icon Gail Martin has a new logo, and new CEO and an infusion of much-needed capital.

“We just added a second shift, and we’re back to where Martin was two years ago,” Rich Weatherford proudly Martin Archerytold The Archery Wire last week.

Weatherford is described by Diversis and the new management team as an accomplished leader with a track record of working with high-growth companies. Before starting his own practice, Weatherford was hired into the Crane Electronics Group (CEG) as VP of Operations to integrate and transform seven domestic and international sites with revenues approaching $300M. The markets supported in this role included aerospace, defense and medical devices.

Prior to Crane, Weatherford was at Rexnord where he was promoted after only 14 months from General Manager of the Cylindrical Bearing business to General Manager of the multi-site Rex Bearing Operations business after improving gross margins by 22 percent.

Now in his mid 40s, to hear Weatherford describe his new situation in southeastern Washington, he remains a company builder, though his company-hopping days are in the past.

“I’m starting with a 10-year plan, and this is where I call home,” he said.

The acquisition of Martin Archery also includes the Damon Howatt line of hand-crafted longbows, takedowns and recurves, an area where Weatherford says he’s currently concentrating his manufacturing expertise – mainly because of a strong demand for the product.

“We’re in the process of setting up an assembly line for traditional – there will be nothing automated – but it will far more efficient,” he said.

Despite his outward enthusiasm, Weatherford readily admits there were overwhelming problems at Martin in the past few years.

“My background is in supply chain operations,” said the new CEO, adding, it just needed management.”

As testament to the optimism that Weatherford says permeates the Martin manufacturing facility since the Oct. 21 sale became final, several of the company’s longtime employees who had gone elsewhere when times became tough have returned to be a part of what they see as a resurgence. Some of those personnel logged 30 or 40 years with the bow company built by Gail Martin and his wife, Eva.

And speaking of the legacy left by the Martins, it’s not something Weatherford takes lightly, especially after he recognized the unwavering loyalty embodied by so many of the remaining and returning employees.

“We’re respectful of the transition and we understand that legacy is important,” said Weatherford, noting he made the decision that he wasn’t planning to inhabit the same office where the much-respected Mr. Martin did business for so many years.

“No, I won’t sit at Gail’s desk,” he said.

For now, and for the next few weeks leading up to the Archery Trade Association annual trade show in Nashville, Tenn. beginning January 6, the new Martin Archery management team wants its dealers and customers to know the company is back in business and financially invigorated, building bows and shipping product.

– J.R. Absher

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