American Rifleman - August 2017 - 63
shortly after his premature death in 1987. The award, or
standard, is decided by a panel that scrutinizes every facet
of companies' adherence to Baldrige's prerequisite criteria
that include the following: leadership, strategy, customers,
measurement analysis and knowledge, management, workforce, operations and results.
In 1997, Larry took interest in Baldrige's business
management standards, and in 2003, he and Brenda set out
to win the award that is given annually to only five U.S.
businesses by the president of the United States.
"I think my three best business moves," Potterfield said
when I pressed him, "were first, staying married to Brenda
for 47 years; second, getting our two kids-Russell and
Sara-involved in the business; and three, engaging the
Baldrige National Quality Award criteria.
In 2009, MidwayUSA won the Baldrige award. Larry,
along with his senior staff and family, accepted the prestigious award in Washington, D.C. "Winning the first Baldrige
award is probably my single best memory of running
MidwayUSA," Potterfield said. "It's something like making
it to the NCAA Basketball Final Four."
If that wasn't enough, Midway did something that made
itself elite, even among top businesses, when it applied for
and won the award again in 2015. And as anyone who has
ever tried to run a business knows, it wasn't easy.
"Building a great team of employees is more important than
most folks imagine," Potterfield said, "and more difficult."
During the hiring process, each candidate is given a sheet
containing MidwayUSA's culture statement listing 38 values
that employees are encouraged to follow. Number 16 reads:
"Supporting America, the NRA, and the 2nd Amendment."
Indeed, assembling a stellar team from members who
individually align with the company's stated values is what
the Potterfields have systematically done, and in doing so
they have hedged for their company's future.
"Matt Fleming is our company president; he leads
the senior leadership team in all day-to-day activities,"
Potterfield said. "But there are many more long-term
employees here who have contributed significantly to the
When asked how to create a successful business,
Potterfield offered the following:
"Figure out how to make a profit honestly, and never
cheat to win," he said. But he also returned to one key
While accolades validate MidwayUSA accomplishments in
terms of management, Brenda and Larry attest that Midway's
secret to success has been its customer service; they've
always strived to provide customers with what they want in
a timely and affordable manner. To that, I can attest.
I remember back in 2001, when I wanted to mount a red-dot
optic on my Ruger Mark II pistol, but I didn't want to send it
off to have it drilled and tapped for a mount. So I perused the
MidwayUSA website, and by merely inputting a few keywords-
something fairly new then-several options for a tap-less scope
mount to fit the rear dovetail of my Ruger popped up. I was
amazed. Where else could I have found that? I think I paid $19,
and I was delighted when it arrived on my doorstep in just a
couple days via extremely low-cost shipping. I didn't know it
at the time, but essentially, MidwayUSA was like amazon.com
before Amazon sold anything except books.
Today, MidwayUSA sells over 125,000 unique shooting,
hunting, gunsmithing, reloading and outdoor products to
customers all over the world. You've probably seen Larry on
TV actually using his products to tinker on guns. MidwayUSA
sells everything from unprimed brass to Under Armour hunting
boots, optics, freeze-dried food, gun grips and everything in
between. There's always a flash sale going on. Did you know it
even provides free downloadable targets on its website?
Perhaps most impressive, the 480-employee company
maintains a 93-percent customer satisfaction rate-
according to customer surveys. Still, another 2017 company goal is to improve that figure to 94 percent. This is
why Potterfield believes Midway is successful. (Its board of
directors thinks the satisfaction rate is 100 percent, thanks
to double-digit growth every year for the past decade.)
"Serving customers has always been the most satisfying
part of the business; providing good jobs for employees and
helping them grow is a close second," he said. But that's
not all MidwayUSA does to ensure its future success.
Giving Back To The Shooting Sports
In an age when political correctness is consuming the
country, and many retailers are afraid to sell shooting
supplies, Midway's role as a consumer forum for freedom
through its quality products is critical now more than ever.
The Potterfields have been fortunate enough to employ a
full-time professional whose sole job is to determine the best
charitable recipient of half of the Potterfields' annual salary
derived from MidwayUSA. That charity of choice is almost
always a shooting, conservation and/or youth organization. Currently the MidwayUSA Foundation supports more
than 50 youth shooting programs, and its youth shooting
fund is endowed with $100 million. In the next 40 years,
this money and the opportunities it gives to young people
to introduce and keep them in the shooting sports may be
one of our cause's saving graces. If your child's school has a
shooting program or scholarship, there's a good chance the
MidwayUSA Foundation supports it.
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