By Rich Creason
Mayville, WI –-(Ammoland.com)- As an outdoor travel writer, I am sometimes invited to visit areas not always open to the general public.
In the past, Susie (my wife) and I have taken tours of many different outdoor product manufacturing facilities. Each place has their own regulations about which areas of the business can be viewed and whether photographs can be taken of the operation.
One of our first “behind the scenes” was the Pure Fishing factory in Okoboji, Iowa. They took our cameras and cellphones to insure we wouldn’t be taking any pictures of “sensitive areas“. The Hummingbird factory in Alabama gave us a view of the making of marine electronics such as fish finders. Another tour was through the Stormy Kromer operation in Michigan to see how they make their hats, vests, shirts, and other products. We have taken special trips like these in other states over the years. We enjoy seeing how outdoor products are made.
MEC Shooting Sports Factory
But, closer to home, a couple months ago, we were lucky enough to take one of these tours in Wisconsin at the MEC Reloader facility. MEC is short for Mayville Engineering Company and was founded in 1945. At that time, their letterhead read “Tools, Dies, and Special Machinery”. Ten years later they began the Shotshell Reloaders market. They became the #1 shotshell reloader in the world, selling over two million MEC Reloading machines. Another 15 years passed by and they were 100% employee owned.
MEC Shooting Sports continued to grow and in 2012, they had 16 facilities in five states. They had over two million square feet of manufacturing with 2,000 employee shareholders. A year later, they acquired APEX Clay Traps and started MEC Clay Target Machine product line.
Then came 2016, and our visit to their Mayville facility. We had met Shawn Wozniak, MEC Shooting Sports Manager at a writer’s conference several years ago. We kept in touch and he told me if we were ever in his area, stop by for a tour. So we did.
The first thing we noticed was a huge banner stretched across the front of the building which said, “Now Hiring”. How many employee owned companies, producing all American made products do you know which are advertising they are hiring? MEC is expanding that rapidly.
Shawn met us inside the front entrance and quickly showed us some of their products on display, and awards on the wall. We then followed him back to the factory floor. Bins along the aisle were filled with various parts of reloaders. He picked up one and told us it was the base for most of their machines. Other pieces along the way were additional parts of their reloaders. Shawn explained these were in the order in which they were assembled to make the finished product.
Workers were building new machines as we watched.
He explained the various series of equipment they built reloading presses in 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 gauge and .410 bore. We learned some of the features of their mechanical reloaders included a Flip Top Measure to avoid spillage of the shot and powder, a Spindex Crimp Starter which rotates to perfectly align with the old crimp, a Cam Crimp to assure correct crimping and closing pressures, an Adjustable Rammer Tube to properly seat the wad column and many more special components.
We moved on to the other part of their operation, the manufacturing of the Clay Target Machines.
The MEC Clay Target Machine division offer sizes from a recreational backyard models holding 135 targets, which can be thrown 85 yards, to the heavy duty commercial clay target machines which can hold over 400 clay targets. These are all metal, built in-house machines, with the electrical wiring also done in the building. More information on these great products can be found at www.mecshootingsports.com.
Now, you might ask, “Why would I want to reload my own shells when I can just go to the store and buy them?”
I have three reasons which apply to me. They may or may not be important to you. First, if you figure the cost of a reloader, primer, wads, powder, and shot, (you already have the hulls which you have saved), then figure the price of buying a few boxes of shells, it won’t take long to pay for your equipment.
Next, reloading is a fun hobby you can do by yourself, with your kids or grandkids, or even with some of your shooting buddies (maybe split the cost of the supplies). I will be using my MEC .410 machine to teach our 11 year old grandson how to reload his own shells.
Last, just like when I caught a fish with tackle I made myself, I really get a great feeling busting a clay target, or downing a bird or small mammal with a shell which I have reloaded myself.
I have a friend from church who shoots targets at the range usually once a week. I asked him if he reloaded his own ammunition and, if so, what brand reloader he used. He told me he had six different reloaders and they are all MEC.
His next comment was, “MEC reloaders aren’t the most expensive, but I think they’re the best.” I thought that said it all.
MEC Reloading Resources:
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