Bob Beckwith, The CEO Of Crosman Corporation, Talks To HAM – Part One.
Bob Beckwith has been the CEO of Crosman since June 2017. In this exclusive interview he talks to Hard Air Magazine Publisher Stephen Archer about the company and his plans for its future.
Hard Air Magazine: Bob, it’s great to see you again! You’ve been CEO for nearly a year now, but I know you’ve worked for Crosman for a long time. Can you tell us about your background in the company?
Bob Beckwith: Steve, it’s a pleasure! I started working for Crosman in July 1999. With a qualification as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), it’s been natural for me to work in the Finance side of the business. But I’ve always had a much wider interest in the company than that. I’ve been heavily involved with broader issues in management, sales, marketing and manufacturing over the years. My Dad ran his own business and that gave me an interest in how a company works.
Hard Air Magazine: Are you a shooter?
Bob Beckwith: Of course! I’m proud to say that my first air rifle was a Crosman 766 – the first version of what is now the 2100. I started shooting with my Dad and progressed to getting my Merit Badge as an Eagle Scout with 22s. Today I prefer shooting airguns – I can shoot at home in the basement and yard. It’s so convenient, there’s no need to go to a range. I have a .22 caliber Marauder, it’s accurate, quiet and smooth operating. I love it!
Hard Air Magazine: What are the main differences in Crosman between when you joined and today?
Bob Beckwith: Well, we’re much larger today. Becoming bigger means that you have to grow a company’s infrastructure and change the way the business is run. We’ve always had really good people throughout all areas of Crosman. But today we have much more strength in depth than when I started. We’ve also embraced a more cross-functional, teamwork-based approach. That’s most obvious in the LEAN principles we’ve applied to manufacturing. I like to get down onto the manufacturing floor as often as possible to see progress and how our teams are working. Customers don’t pay for waste! We aim to provide products the customer wants at prices that are attractive.
Hard Air Magazine: Bob, what do you see as Crosman’s core competencies?
Bob Beckwith: Service, retail, relationships and technical capabilities. We’ve always given outstanding support to Crosman customers at all levels. Knowing and understanding our distributors and dealers is key, too, because they are the people who keep buying from us. That keeps Crosman products on the shelves for your readers to buy. And we use a lot of management tools and technical capabilities that are not common in companies of a similar size.
Hard Air Magazine: How would you describe Crosman’s corporate culture today?
Bob Beckwith: Teamwork and winning. I like to win and it’s my job to listen then build consensus within the company that makes us succeed. Crosman is really pushing to win, we’re not interested in second place. We do that by working hard together and not just by hoping we’ll get lucky. I try to do the best I can for our customers and also our employees. More than 280 people work for Crosman – that makes it a serious responsibility!
Hard Air Magazine: Do you see Crosman bringing more manufacturing back to the USA in future?
Bob Beckwith: Steve, I’m proud that Crosman manufactures more than 60% of what we sell. That’s unusually high for companies in most any industry! Yes, of course, we would like to continue to bring more manufacturing back in-house. It gives us more flexibility and it makes us cost-competitive for our customers. We do whatever makes sense for the company and in-house manufacturing is a huge part of that. We also closely monitor US governmental policies, such as the falling exchange rate for the Dollar and new tariffs. There’s a lot happening there and will act accordingly…
Hard Air Magazine: Can you share some of the company’s strategic vision for the future?
Bob Beckwith: Crosman will service the outdoor enthusiast. We’re going to grow and win. Our expanding crossbow business is an example of this growth for the company.
Hard Air Magazine: Bob, what do you see as the biggest opportunity in the overall airgun market?
Bob Beckwith: Hunting with airguns is huge. It gives hunters different ways to hunt and different seasons for them to do so. And it must be ethical hunting! That’s why big bore airguns are important. We’re working with industry associations and individual states to increase and clarify the ways airguns can be used for ethical hunting. For example, what should be the minimum caliber and Muzzle Energy requirements for different types of game.
Hard Air Magazine: Customer service has always been a strength for Crosman. You have phone support, parts diagrams and supply, a repair center network and more. Do you see this as differentiator in future with so many customers buying from low support retail outlets like Walmart and Amazon?
Bob Beckwith: One thing that has not changed during my time with Crosman is our focus on customer service! Unlike many other companies, we’ve not forgotten the importance of this. At Crosman, we’ve retained our traditional core service values. For example, when a customer phones Crosman he/she talks to a real person who’s based in Bloomfield, New York. And our customer service folk are all long-service employees, many of them with experience in manufacturing. They really know what they’re talking about and they do their best to help Crosman customers.
Due to the large amount of interesting material, we’ve divided this interview into two parts. The second part will appear on 3rd May.
Thanks to Atticus Kiser of Crosman for taking the interview photographs.