CEO's Blog

CEO Blog: Winter Visits Highlight Challenges to Our Industry

Discussion topics include what he has seen these past few months, specifically federal excise taxes and how to protect our brands.
Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard

Author: Matt Kormann

As I check the calendar, I’m a little confused. There’s no way it’s been five months since I joined the ATA.  This first quarter of 2018 went by so quickly.

Even so, I’m looking forward to my first turkey hunt next month, something I’ve anticipated since first sitting in a treestand in Wisconsin last October. I’m also excited to continue visiting ATA members as I travel the West to meet manufacturers and retailers.

But, like all of you, I’m getting my feet back under me (and digging out from email) after a hectic trade-show season. Whichever events you attended – or even if you just followed along online – it’s incredible to see all the business that’s been done the past few months.

And no matter where I went in recent weeks, I heard similar concerns on two topics: federal excise taxes and protecting our brands.

Dan Forster worked with our colleagues through the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable to ensure the voices of bowhunting and archery were heard in Washington as the House discussed long-overdue modernization of how states can use Pittman-Robertson funds. Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard.

Federal Excise Taxes

If counterfeiting concerns dominated my first month on the job, FET discussions filled the past couple of months. Virtually every manufacturer, as well as folks who want to enter our market with new products, have asked me about FET eligibility, import tariffs and Constructive Sale Prices.

The ATA is more engaged than ever on these issues. Last month, Dan Forster worked with our colleagues through the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable to ensure the voices of bowhunting and archery were heard in Washington as the House discussed long-overdue modernization of how states can use Pittman-Robertson funds. This past week Dan also started collecting data on import tariffs in our industry. In addition, he began the research that will help us update how best to calculate constructive sale prices. All-in, Dan’s working with state agencies and his Washington contacts to improve our industry’s business climate.

Get ahead of threats by protecting your brand overseas. The process requires effort, but the ATA can help you get started. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

Protect Your Brand

If one issue causes me to lose sleep, it’s the potential for our members to see the value of their brands eroded by unethical businesses outside of our industry. During the past several weeks it’s become clear to me that each of our manufacturing members must protect themselves globally.

When I meet a manufacturer, one of my first questions is this: “Where do you produce your product?” In many instances, they tell me 100 percent of their inventory is made here in America. When I follow up by asking if they’ve protected their brands and other intellectual properties overseas, most say they have not. Those problems have become all too common – and not just in our industry.

Even if you never manufacture a single component outside of your own facility, your product and brand are at risk. In fact, threats to our industry’s brands are more nefarious than counterfeiting, because overseas manufacturers constantly change their tactics. You can get ahead of those threats by protecting your brand overseas. The process requires effort, but ATA’s membership manager, Wendy Lang, can help you get started.

Keep an eye out at the end of the month for our eBlast, which will link you to additional resources on this important issue.

What’s Next for the ATA?

Our next effort is to redefine who we are and what we’re here to accomplish. “Strategic planning” is a process every business should revisit regularly. Your Board of Directors has tasked ATA staff with accomplishing this job, and our efforts begin next month. I’ll provide more on that in my next post. Until then, stay in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

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