Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc.: An Internal Strategic Evaluation
Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc. is the fourth-largest firearms manufacturer in the United States, having earned a strong position as a maker of relatively high-quality yet median-cost weapons marketed primarily towards the commercial sporting industry (Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012; Yahoo Finance, 2012; Reuters, 2012). Founded in 1949 by William B. Ruger and Alexander McCormick Sturm, the company known popularly as Ruger first made its name with a semi-automatic pistol that incorporated elements of German Luger and American Colt design, both in its functionality and in its aesthetics; the popularity and strong sales of this company were all but solely responsible for the continuation of the partnership and firm, propelling the company into the manufacture of other firearms and currently into the manufacture of casts for golf clubs used by a variety of club manufacturers (Sturm, Ruger, & Co. 2012; Reuters, 2012). The company does not currently engage in the distribution of its products or in the sale of any weapons save to the wholesale distributors that serve as its channel to the consumer market (Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012).
The following pages will provide an overview of the company's apparent internal strategy given its current position and operations. Analysis of stock performance and other financial indicators, statements of intent and other clear expressions of strategy made by the company itself, and external analyses of position and likely future moves will all be assessed in making a determination of several areas of strategy. Though the company does not have a strong international presence, at least not directly, the potential for future strategy in this area will be assessed as will the possibility of current international sales that are not a part of the company's stated strategy or its direct operations. In this manner, the full range of existing internal strategy and likely future strategy(ies) as well as strategy recommendations will be provided, with the information presented in as comprehensive and as detailed a manner as possible. Reference will also be made to current standard texts and theories so as to situate the analysis of Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc.'s strategy in current empirically- and scholarly-vetted frameworks and understandings. From this, it will be possible to make certain practical recommendations based on the analysis of the company's current strategic position and focus, and such recommendations will be provided in the conclusion.
Strategic Condition/Building Blocks
Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc. is currently performing far beyond the expectations of external analysts and of the company itself, and as recently as May of this year the company announced a brief (approximately one week) suspension of new order acceptance, as the backlog of orders that the company was faced with exceeded one million units (NASDAQ, 2012). Earnings reports have consistently exceeded most analysts expectations, as well, and the company is continuing to find ways to improve efficiency and improve capacity in order to meet the ever-stronger demand and sales numbers that it has been consistently experiencing, and this has also led to very strong stock performance for the company in the past year despite a relatively recent and significant drop (NASDAQ, 2012; MarketWatch, 2012). This drop, already partially corrected, could be due to legislative worries and other news items and does not appear to accurately reflect company performance; the company's strong sales and relative insulation in its process orientation -- the company only manufactures firearms, and much of its value chain exists with its client wholesale distributors and other un-owned firms (MarketWatch, 2012; Reuters, 2012; Yahoo Finance, 2012). Overall, the company's strategy appears to have remained largely unchanged over the decades of its operation save for the increased expansion when the company went public in 1990: it makes high-quality firearms that are relatively simple and affordable that meet the needs of sportsmen of all skill levels and varieties, and it is all but wholly focused on the United States market (Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012).
Borrowing from the "Vision" section of Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc.'s corporate website, the mission of the company is, to preserve our hard-earned reputation as a manufacturer of quality firearms and investment castings that simultaneously deliver value and innovation…Ruger focuses on serving our shareholders, our loyal customers and our employees. We strive to provide the high quality products demanded by our customers as efficiently as possible, which provides long-term value for our customers and promotes the interests of customers, employee and shareholders alike.
(Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012).
Simply put, the company's mission as derived from it vision is directly and explicitly in keeping with its externally visible strategy of creating high quality yet affordable firearms, and the company's stated commitment to its shareholders, current customers, and its employees can be seen in some ways as indicative of the strong domestic emphasis that the company has -- ensuring that current stakeholder's needs are being met is a more central concern for the company than expanding to new markets.
Functional Level Strategy
Because the company is very limited in its scope of operations and is very well integrated, consisting of just over one-thousand employees and only three primary facilities, there is not a great deal of difference between the various levels of strategy as they are typically identified (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Reuters, 2012; Yahoo Finance, 2012; (Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012). That is, the functional, business, and corporate strategies of the company are highly similar and very directly related given the singular area in which the company operates. That being said, key features of the company's functional strategy that demand mention include the company's current lack of debt and significant holdings of cash and cash equivalents, which are approaching one-hundred million dollars, which taken together enable the company to retain a great deal of flexibility in its operations and also give it the ability to remain somewhat insulated in price shocks in materials and transportation costs, as well as to weather larger economic downturns such as the recent recession (NASDAQ, 2012; Yahoo Finance, 2012). The company has a very steady workforce with low turnover and long-standing partnerships with its distributors and suppliers, all of which make for a very solid and cohesive functional strategy that again points towards solidifying and maintaining its position in the current domestic market (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012).
Business Level Strategy
At the business level of strategy, the company is again very cohesive and well-integrated, with very few divisions or even product differentiations and a wholly singular market focused on as a means of generating sales and profit for the company (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Reuters, 2012; NASDAQ, 2012; Sturm, Ruger, & Co., 2012). Though the company does manufacture many different firearms that are intended for different purposes and are meant to appeal to different types of sportsmen (i.e. end consumers), the products are all of the same general class and focused towards a rather narrow demographic, with further differentiation within this demographic boosting the sales numbers of individual products but not truly representing a strategic market differentiation on the part of the company (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Strum, Ruger, & Co., 2012; NASDAQ, 2012). Ruger Golf and its manufacture of investment castings for golf clubs is the only true differentiation that the business engages in, and as this is a very stable part of the company's operations with solid client relationships and a purely business-to-business (and even manufacturer-to-manufacturer) model, it does not represent a major strategy component at the business level, either (Yahoo Finance, 2012; Reuters, 2012). Instead, the business strategy remains almost solely focused on the core strength of firearms design and manufacturing upon which the company was built, and this is a strength of the company in the modern era of diversification (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Strum, Ruger, & Co., 2012).
Corporate Level Strategy
At the highest level, the company's strategy remains as singular and as cohesive as in lower levels. Ruger Golf is the company's only foray into an industry other than firearms, and with the limited and unchanging nature of this portion of the company's business it can hardly be considered a significant strategic feature (Morris & Pinto, 2007; Strum, Ruger, & Co., 2012). Instead, corporate strategy at the company appears to be simply perpetuating the legacy of the company's two founders and long-time heads, which consisted of making quality firearms at affordable prices and ensuring both efficiency and stability in the processes utilized to do so (Strum, Ruger, & Co., 2012). The company does not engage in speculation nor does it appear at all concerned with further diversification (Yahoo Finance, 2012).
Global Level Strategy
As mentioned above, Strum, Ruger, & Company, Inc. is focused entirely on the domestic market in the United States, and does not operate internationally (Strum, Ruger, & Co., 2012; Yahoo Finance, 2012). This does not mean that the company is wholly devoid of a global or international strategy, however; through some of its wholesale distributors and these distributors' own…