Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clarification from STI

Saturday (April 16, 2011) I wrote about "STI UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP", describing (based on available media releases) that Dave Skinner (and Pauletta, too!) have retired, and that the new CEO --- Tim Dillon -- plans for the new version of STI [Would that be STI 3.0?] to lend a new emphases on Defensive Handguns rather than Competition Handguns.

Today I received an unsolicited email from Rabbitt Boyett, the Marketing Director of STI, who very kindly and generously helped me to better understand their new current marketing plan.

I will reproduce his email in total in a moment, but the main point is that STI current leadership has no intention of paying less attention to it's Competition Market. In fact, as Rabbit says:
"we are planning to offer MORE support than ever".

While it's quite understandable that STI is going to work harder to broaden their appeal to the "Self Defense Market", it's impressive that they intend to put another serious effort into growing another market. I don't know where they're going to find the resources in R&D and new manufacturing, but it sounds as if they have an infusion of cash and are willing to spend the money designing and developing new market lines. And I'm assuming that the manufacturing will be moved from Georgetown, Texas, to The Philippines.

(I have to say, I'm not so happy with that. But SWMBO and I visited the Georgetown facility in 2005, and even then they were running out of room in their SteelBarn building ... and there wasn't much room, either, to expand in their current Industrial park.)

I'm impressed. I know that they have spent a lot of time, effort and money lately in developing:
  • the GP5 (Polymer Frame, exposed hammer, double-action in 9X19 w/3.25" barrel)
  • the GP6 (Polymer Frame, exposed hammer, double-action in 9X19 w/4.25" barrel)
  • and the GP6C (Polymer Frame, adjustable sights, exposed hammer, double-stack,double-action in 9X19 w/4.25" barrel)
... these three choices make a "good start" into the Wide Wide Wonderful World of Self-Defense guns.

What can we expect to see in future Self-Defense pistols from STI?

the following are just my guesses, and yours are as good as mine, but I can identify a couple of niche markets which are becoming more popular, such as:
  • Sub-compact double-action with fixed sights in 9x19, Very Short Barrel (2"?), and 6-7 round single stack magazine;
  • Sub-compact in .380, similar to Compact or Kel-tec P3AT;
  • Mini-Compact in calibers larger than 9x19;
Those are just Wild Ass Guesses, of course, but they are, or have been, fairly popular in Self Defense handguns over the past few years. (And no, I don't really think STI is going after Kel-Tec; any improvements would be in ergonomics or power or magazine capacity, and by then you're automatically in the "Mini-Compact" genre.)

So ... yes. This is, indeed, a Marketing War and STI is late in getting into it. Can they develop their own niche? I don't see it.

Can they bounce early entry manufacturers? Well, Ruger has (this month) the hottest of the hot in their LC9, and it seems as if they have already set the standard; can STI make up for ergonomics and power with excellence of manufacturing ... and if so, can the set a competitive price? Can they beat $433 for the LC9? Or will they go for the larger frame/length/weight etc and compete against Ruger's SR* series?

We don't know, but it's an exciting Next Chapter in the Never Ending Story of STI-World!

(Full text of email follows.)

Hi Jerry-

I read your post about Tim Dillon taking over as President/CEO here at STI and while that is true, there’s a little misunderstanding about just one thing: when you say “he is going to move the company away from the ‘Competition’ market toward the ‘Self Defense’ market.” While we ARE going to be expanding our CCW/LEO offerings, we are NOT going to be diminishing our support of the competition market. We fully understand that it is our competitors who put us where we are today and we are not EVER going to turn our backs on those customers and friends- quite the contrary, we are planning to offer MORE support than ever: better guns, better options, better lead times, better customer service, and better communication between us and the public. The changes will be a little slow initially as Tim is using his experience in logistics and efficiency to improve processes around here (without sacrificing ANY of the quality people have come to expect from us, btw. I’m sure you can see how that might take a little time…) Some of those changes won’t be noticeable at first to anyone that doesn’t work here, but I promise you that in a year or two everyone will be able to tell how much better we’ve gotten as a company. Tim has a very clear vision of what STI is capable of and I speak for all the other employee owners when I say that I am just thrilled to be a part of helping this company to live up to its full potential to benefit ALL shooters- competitors, LEOs, self defense folks… everybody! Thanks again for noticing, Jerry, and if you or anyone else wants to weigh in you can always reach us at Feedback@STIguns.com

Rabbit Boyett

Employee Owner | Marketing Director

512.819.0656 | Fax: 512.819.0465

Description: http://media.stiguns.com/EmailLogo.pngl

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