HAM Movers and Shakers Interview:
1. Steve Lamboy
Background: Steve Lamboy is President of International Case Company (ICC), official importer of Negrini srl gun cases and Preseident at Micheli-Lamboy Marketing and Development, LLC.
He has worked as a consultant to many companies in the air gun and firearms world, including Crosman and Gamo. Steve’s past positions include Executive Vice-President at Gamo Outdoor Group and VP of Licensing and Operations at Realtree Outdoor Products.
HAM: What was your first airgun? What did you love about it?
Lamboy: My first airgun was a Daisy Red Ryder which I had in first grade. We lived in a new neighborhood where was limited room for shooting. My father decided to remove the magazine tube to prevent me from shooting BBs as I must have chosen the wrong targets from time to time. I quickly learned to stuff the muzzle in the mud and fire dirt clods all over!
HAM: Did you shoot air pistols as a kid, too?
Lamboy: As a young teen I swapped a recurve bow for a Crosman CO2 powered single action bb revolver. It was very accurate at 4 yards and I could shoot the center out of the ace of spades with little problem.
This was much fun to shoot moving targets!
My brother would toss Coke cans into the air and I learned to hit them easily. I also developed my own method to increase the power for hunting by modifying the hammer spring. I always had the quest for more velocity.
HAM: Steve, you’ve been involved with the airgun business over a long period. What do you feel is the most significant change to have happened in the last 5 years?
Lamboy: Having been in the industry since 1986 I have seen much change and growth, including the explosive growth of airgunning since the ’80s.
The biggest change that I see in the air gun industry in the last 5 years has to do with leadership and ownership. The two dominant companies in the airgun space are Crosman and Gamo. Both are now owned by private equity companies. Typically these owners have little or no emotional attachment for the companies they own. It is simply a financial play.
HAM: Tell us more about your concerns over airgun company ownership?
Lamboy: Since 2005 Gamo and Crosman have set the pace and created the products that have grown the use of airguns and dominated the market.
What is market domination? Simple – walk into several big box stores (Dicks, Academy, Bass Pro, etc) and Walmart and see which brands have more items listed.
This isn’t complicated. Crosman and Gamo, in healthy competition, have lead airgun development for the masses.
A succession of private equity investment companies has owned Crosman for some years. A different private equity investment group now owns Gamo and the previous owning family is out of it. The leadership has changed although some key managers remain. We will see what effect this has on their ability to bring new and innovative products to market.
Will we see genuine innovation like new power sources and designs? Or will we see costs driven out, products cheapened and more window dressing?
HAM: Many of us own airguns that you’ve played a part in developing. Can you tell us something about your approach to developing successful new products?
Lamboy: My approach is always the same- study the problem and understand human nature.
During the 90’s and early 2000’s Gamo developed a mass market in the US for their European made, 1000fps springers. Then along came Daisy and Crosman who copied their designs in Turkey and China and used the Winchester and Remington names to add credibility.
These guns were selling for 30% less than Gamo’s, and Gamo was no longer the low cost producer. Gamo was losing market share even when their quality was higher. What to do?
The solution was to understand the problem. As the new manager at Gamo I could say “why is there all this interest in these springers anyway?” and “what are they being used for?” The answer was very surprising and had two components.
Price and value was an obvious contributor- no secret there. However the biggest surprise was housing development. The 90’s and 2000’s saw the greatest period of housing development since WWII- suburban sprawl.
When new developments were built there came the inevitable “no discharge of firearms” laws in the neighborhoods. Thus the .22 rimfire guns we always had for backyard use could not be used but a 1000fps airgun could.
So now we developed a new gun that was higher velocity, was silenced and shot real hardened hunting ammo – the Whisper. What red blooded American can turn down more power and lethality without noise?
HAM: Steve, what are your predictions for future air rifle development?
Lamboy: Currently, the break barrel airgun market if overfilled with good offerings from the most inexpensive to high quality German offerings. But this is single shot technology and it has its limits.
I believe air gunners are hungry for new technology which makes cocking and charging cheap and easy, offers multi-shot capability and is controlled by good triggers. Where will this come from?
We all shall see what the future brings.
HAM: Recently you’ve founded the International Case Co, specializing in cases that protect many types of guns. Can you tell us something about this?
Lamboy: We formed ICC as a joint venture with Negrini Cases of Italy to distribute their products in North America. Negrini hold several patents on composite thermoforming and makes the lightest weight cases tough enough to pass International Air Travel Certification (IATA).
Although well known in the firearms world, we are now developing proper cases for air guns. We have several models now and more to come which will allow air gunners to configure the interiors. This will help with all the PCP guns which have so many accessories.
HAM: Steve, Thank you!
Note: Steve Lamboy will be contributing a regular column for Hard Air Magazine. It’s going to be provocative and interesting…