I noted in an earlier post on the United States Concealed Carry Association’s second Concealed Carry Expo, there were three times as many exhibitors showing concealment holsters and packs as there were gun manufacturers. This does not include the women’s specific carry businesses I mentioned in Part 1 of this series on the gun industry. Nor does it include those who make concealed carry clothing for both men and women. If we were to add all three of these categories of exhibitors together, there would be five times as many as the number of gun manufacturers at the Expo.
As I said before, the gun industry is about more than guns.
As businesses, if the operative cliché for women’s carry is “necessity is the mother of invention,” then the cliché that best describes the general holster and pack market is “how to build a better mousetrap.” In a crowded market, small points of differentiation can make all the difference. This helps explain why one of the exhibitors – one of the “WHOs” of the gun industry – was Randall Darby, who was displaying a single item: a clip. Well, not just a clip – the Ulticlip.
As in my previous post, I want to emphasize that “The Gun Industry” is a who as well as a what. Sure, the industry giant Blackhawk! was at the Expo. They are emphatically part of the gun industry.
But so too are smaller companies like Crossfire, whose CEO, Ron Martinez, made an appearance at the Expo on Sunday and excitedly described the benefits of his holsters to me.
Likewise, although Crossbreed Holsters projects a large image, it was started by Mark Craighead in his garage and is still run by his widow Carol (second from right on women’s panel below), after Mark’s untimely passing in 2012.
And there were many, many people there whose businesses are dwarfed by Crossfire and Crossbreed but are nonetheless part of “The Gun Industry.”
People like Larry Dirlam of Holster Partners, who came up with a product that can be attached to other company’s holsters to make them more comfortable.
People like Chris Tedder, founder of Clinger Holsters, who designed a clip attachment that holds the grip of a concealed gun closer to the body.
And serial inventor David Foster who designed the novel Urban Carry holster.
And Josh Sykes of Kinetic Concealment, whose holsters combine neoprene, leather, and kydex.
And Andre Proulx of Andre’s Holsters.
Not all of these companies are new upstarts, either. I spent a long time talking to Robert Boyce, business manager for Smart Carry which is over a quarter century old.
All of these people are the “WHOs” in “who is The Gun Industry.” And more are forthcoming in installation 3 of this series.