Pyramyd Air’s CEO Explains New Directions At The Company
Back in 2018, HAM published a very interesting interview with Val Gamerman, Pyramyd Air’s CEO. Now we have sat down with Val again to hear about the changes and new directions the company is taking.
It’s not often that we get to hear about company strategy directly from the man at the top. So sit back and read how Pyramyd Air’s CEO sees the future, both for airguns and other segments of the shooting sports market.
HAM: Historically PA has always been “the world’s largest airgun dealer”. However that’s clearly changing as PA adds non-airgun product categories. Can you tell us something of the background to this decision?
Val Gamerman: We still intend to stay the world’s largest airgun retailer. With that being said, we are looking to expand our success to other categories in the great outdoors. It’s how we go about that growth and what specific tools we are using to get there that will be interesting to watch.
HAM: What are the corporate core competencies PA has that can be leveraged into the adjacent market segments we are seeing?
Val Gamerman: That’s tough question to answer. The easy part – no “corporate” core competencies. The hard part – any company’s core competencies revolve around either product knowledge or approach to sales & service. Product knowledge can be built and acquired with time. Service and sales style are instilled.
HAM: The first step, clearly, was to add crossbows. The PA logo now reads “Airguns * Crossbows”. Why were crossbows the first addition?
Val Gamerman: In fact this is our second entry into the archery market! Last time was around 2010. Crossbows are a simpler category to enter compared to vertical bows. Powers and distances are similar to those of big bore airguns. POI shifts, hold over concepts are there, much like big bore airguns.
Through conducting a customer study we discovered that a large percentage of our customers already participate in archery so it seemed like a natural fit, although, of course crossbow buyers are all hunters, whereas the airgun world is a huge spectrum of uses and applications.
HAM: How important are The Bow Bully’s blog posts to PA as they share the previously all-airgun PA Blog?
Val Gamerman: They are certainly not as in depth as Tom Gaylord’s blogs, but we believe you can’t build a meaningful relationship with customers unless you start having a conversation. I see The Bow Bully’s blog as a prelude, a preface if you will. Hope it will go from introduction to the actual body.
HAM: How does Pyramyd Air differentiate itself in the archery market?
Val Gamerman: We just started selling crossbows in 2021, and are not really done setting up the category. One of the differentiators is that we offer services to customers who purchase crossbows from us. If you don’t enjoy the setup part, or simply don’t have the time, we will set the crossbow up, and zero it in for you, so it’s ready to go when you get it.
Val Gamerman: Airsoft is something we used to sell. Up until 2013 we even had a dedicated airsoft blog, and had some recognition in the airsoft community. Since then the world certainly has changed but we never really fully pulled out of airsoft. I hope both categories grow for us, as both provide limitless enjoyment, and as such is part of our mission statement.
HAM: How does PA deal with possible confusion among customers who want a “non firearm” but are not sure if they really want an airgun, a paintball gun or an airsoft gun? (That’s something that’s always worried me).
Val Gamerman: Education is key. Most people think of traditional BB guns and pellet guns as airsoft, simply because airsoft is more popular than traditional air guns, and even though they are picturing a traditional BB gun, they refer to it as airsoft.
With that being said, there is more confusion about self defense and whether airguns are appropriate for that purpose. You would be surprised how many phone calls we get asking for advice on that topic, and the obvious disappointment when we refuse to sell airguns for that purpose.
HAM: Now PA has an Outdoor Gear category. I can see that make sense – for example – PA has airgun customers who may also want to buy a knife. How can we expect to see PA’s coverage of that category expand with time?
Val Gamerman: I think you will see more outdoor categories on Pyramyd Air’s website.
HAM: It’s the new Firearm Accessories category that’s surprised me the most. Now I see PA selling aftermarket stocks for 10/22 air rifles, triggers etc. Do you see firearms accessories as a major category in the future?
Val Gamerman: A lot of our customers are also firearm enthusiasts. We are all part of a shooting community. There is no intention to sell firearms, but more items from firearm categories will be found on our web site in the future.
HAM: As an airgunner, I’m pleased to see PA innovating with new concepts such as the Customized Avengers and a complete new range of slugs from British manufacturer Wildman. Do you expect PA to continue to provide more innovations in the airgun category in future?
Val Gamerman: Absolutely. We have too much emotional investment in airguns to simply lose our focus due to growth in other categories. Airguns is our home, and they are not going anywhere, nor getting any less attention. We have over 150 years of airgun experience in the company, I hope to make it over 200 years in the next 3 years!
HAM: Most of the physical “big box outdoor stores” seem to have become largely dependent on clothing sales. Just walk around Bass Pro or Sportsman’s Warehouse, for example, to see this. Do you see PA moving in that direction too, albeit online only?
Val Gamerman: Apparel has become an important part for many sporting goods stores. I don’t see us focusing on it in the next few years.
HAM: It must be challenging for PA staff to add knowledge and expertise on such a wide range of new SKUs in new product categories. How do you keep-up the “knowledge base” of staff to PA’s historical high levels?
Val Gamerman: Training, training, and more training!
Crossbows knowledge has now become part of what we expect our sales, customer service and technical support teams to know. The demands will only increase with time, and so I can see dedicated teams being created. For example you can be on an airgun team, or on a crossbow team, and if you pass tests you can be a universal member who can work for either team.
HAM: Can we expect to see PA adding additional new product categories in future, or to concentrate on further expanding the ones we see today?
Val Gamerman: We intend to grow and strengthen our crossbow category. I think anybody who looks at the current selection can recognize we currently represent all the largest brands. We grew crossbows selection another 40%+ this year.
New product categories – yes, of course!
HAM: Many people were disappointed when the “PA Cup” was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Will it be back for 2023? And – if so – will it be an airgun-only event or will it include other disciplines like archery?
Val Gamerman: We were as upset as our customers and competitors were. Currently, we intend to hold the Pyramyd Air Cup in 2023. Late August/September as usual, is when we are shooting for. I do not see non-airgun competitions taking place in 2023. Future? Who knows? We called it Cup for a reason…
Val, thank you for taking the time to talk to HAM! Good luck with the new strategies and innovations at Pyramyd Air. I know that HAM readers everywhere value hearing directly from Pyramyd Air’s CEO.