American Rifleman - September 2017 - 66

Photos courtesy of Brownells

Clockwise from left: Pete Brownell and
his father, Frank, flank Larry Weeks and
just some of the gang at Brownells, the
company Bob Brownell founded in 1939.
Frank and Pete man their trade booth in
the late 1990s. Pete enjoys competing in
recreational trap leagues along with 3-gun
competition and "zombie" shoots.

NRA Annual Meetings (the other was
Roy Weatherby). Three years later, he
focused full-time on mail-order, shuttering his gunsmithing business. Thereafter
followed many signature products:
Acraglas (an epoxy used to bed actions
in rifle stocks), the Latigo rifle sling
(1964) and Acraglas Gel (1977).
The February 1957 edition of The
American Rifleman presaged new leadership: Bob's son, Frank, was pictured
on the cover while hunting mule deer
near Devils Tower in Wyoming. Frank,
a 1961 graduate of Iowa with a B.A.
in advertising, attended his first NRA
Annual Meetings in 1964 then joined
the company full-time, his stint in the
U.S. Navy complete. He became president in 1983 then CEO in 1991.
Bob admired the Dall sheep as one
of North America's most majestic and
challenging species of big game, but
he was unable to hunt it due to health
reasons. In July 1967, Edward "Pete"
Brown, editor in chief of Sports Afield
magazine and a longtime friend of
Bob's, presented him with a mounted
Dall taken on a 1965 Alaska hunt; a
plaque accompanying it read, "To
Bob for his mark." The mounted head
appeared on the cover of Catalog No.
20 and for more than 25 years hung in
company headquarters in Montezuma.
That head of game became another

66

signature, a nexus for the company and
its customers. In many ways, the Dall
represents America's majesty, its promise for all who work hard and persevere.
In that light, it represents customers'
reliance on Brownells' tools and advice.
In 1991, Pete was graduated from
college shortly before his grandfather,
Bob, passed away at the age of 79.
As planned, he went to work not for
Brownells but for the Montgomery/
KONE Co. a construction subcontractor.
Growing up, Pete worked at his
family business, of course. "It was a
small company then," he says. "It was a
catalog company-I knew that. We had
typewriters. I worked in the business,
probably about 50,000 square feet
max; it wasn't the biggest employer
in town. I didn't become aware of the
competitive nature of it until later; I
didn't get a sense of where we stood in
the world until much later."
He also worked various construction
jobs. Then he was paid more as a concrete construction worker, and his stint
at Brownells ended (or so he thought).
At Montgomery/KONE, he sold elevators, escalators and moving walkways
and supervised their installation at
airports first in Florida then California.
"That was sales and management training," he says. "I was responsible for
construction. It was a great job. It was
September 2017

american rifleman

a fourth-generation family business; I
loved that. You felt like you were working for a person. You could see and
feel tangible results. I thought that was
going to be my career."
Life in California was eye-opening.
The 1990s witnessed the rise of the
"tech bubble," and Pete worked alongside it, managing, among other things,
clean-room construction for an Intel
microprocessor chip plant. Such proximity made him privy to the nascent
practice of Internet development.
When Montgomery/KONE was
sold in 1996 to a huge Scandinavian
company, what was a family enterprise
became stockholder-driven, focused on
profit only. "I realized there is a larger
social responsibility," says Brownell.
"I thought, 'What impact can I make?'
I talked to my dad, who was thinking
about what his next move might be."
And so Pete Brownell returned to Iowa,
and became executive vice president of
Brownells in 1997.
One of his first "signatures" was a
website, Brownells.com, launched in
1999. The promise of the Internet was
undeniable-Pete knew it.
"The only way we could grow was
to find new people," he says. "You
either expand geographically-the
website did that-or you grow product-wise-Bob and Frank did that-or
you expand categories-thus ammo,
archery and survival gear nowadays."
In succeeding years, as he took control of the company first as president in
2007 then as CEO in 2012, Pete doubled down on all fronts. Catalog offerings expanded (MIL/LE, 2005; 1911
and AR-15/M16, 2007). New growth
occurred online: In 2008, while searching for a method to reduce the effort
needed to order from its vast selection
of products, the company developed
and patented its own Internet ordering
system to enable customers to view
exploded schematics with a click then,
with another click order a part. A year
later, it launched AR15Builder.com,
a patented fully interactive website
that allows customers to build the AR
of their dreams; a year after that a
mobile app debuted. Alongside this,
organic product development continued: In 2006, the company introduced Brownells 30-round AR-15/M16


http://www.Brownells.com http://www.AR15Builder.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - September 2017

Contents
American Rifleman - September 2017 - CW1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - CW2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - Cover1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - Cover2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - Contents
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 3
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 4
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 5
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 6
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 7
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 8
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 9
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 10
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 11
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 12
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 13
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 14
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 15
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 16
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 17
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 18
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 19
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 20
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 21
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 22
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 23
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 24
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 25
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 26
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 27
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 28
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 29
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 30
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 31
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 32
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 33
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 34
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 35
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 36
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 37
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 38
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 39
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 40
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 41
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 42
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 43
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 44
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 45
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 46
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 47
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 48
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 49
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 50
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 51
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 52
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 53
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 54
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 55
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 56
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 57
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 58
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 59
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 60
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 61
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 62
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 63
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 64
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 65
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 66
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 67
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 68
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 69
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 70
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 71
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 72
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 73
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 74
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 75
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 76
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 77
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 78
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 79
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 80
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 81
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 82
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 83
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 84
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 85
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 86
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 87
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 88
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 89
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 90
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 91
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 92
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 93
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 94
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 95
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 96
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 97
American Rifleman - September 2017 - C1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - C2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - E1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - E2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - MW1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - MW2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - S1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - S2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - SW1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - SW2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - W1
American Rifleman - September 2017 - W2
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 100
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 101
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 102
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 103
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 104
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 105
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 106
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 107
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 108
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 109
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 110
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 111
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 112
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 113
American Rifleman - September 2017 - 114
American Rifleman - September 2017 - Cover3
American Rifleman - September 2017 - Cover4
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