Beretta Relocates to Tennessee
Anti-gun legislation in Maryland prompts company move
Beretta announced it is moving from anti-gun Maryland and taking 300 jobs to Gallatin, Tenn..
"The Beretta family has manufactured products and done business from the same town in northern Italy for almost 500 years ... when Beretta chooses a location for its business, we plan not just in terms of a return on investment within the next few years. We also start with the possibility that we will be in that location for decades, if not hundreds of years, to come."
Yesterday Beretta's Jeff Reh used those words as a preamble to the company's decision to relocate its 35-year old U.S. manufacturing facilities from Accokeek, Md., to Gallatin, Tenn..
That announcement means distinctly different things to the governors of Tennessee and Maryland.
If you're Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, it means you've brought 300 new jobs to your state. If you're Maryland's Martin O'Malley, you're looking for a way to explain that the state's anti-gun position has cost state residents jobs with one of the world's most stable companies.
Beretta officials joined Haslam and Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty in Nashville yesterday to announce the move and the construction of a $45 million dollar state-of-the-art manufacturing and research and development facility in the Gallatin Industrial Park. That construction, according to Beretta officials, will be finished this year.
"Beretta is one of the world's greatest companies, and their decision to expand into Tennessee speaks to the standards of craftsmanship and quality our state's workforce embraces every day," Haslam said. "Attracting a legendary company like Beretta reinforces our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs. I want to thank the Beretta family for their substantial investment in Tennessee and the 300 jobs they'll create in Sumner County."
"Today's significant announcement by Beretta USA is a historic moment for the state of Tennessee, the Haslam Administration and ECD," Hagerty said. "Beretta is one of the best brands in the world. Tennessee's global reputation for manufacturing in an artisan tradition means we are able to attract companies like Beretta, with a proven commitment to excellence. Tennessee continues to earn global accolades for our business climate, and we boast the best balance sheet in the nation. I appreciate Beretta's decision to locate in Tennessee, and we look forward to a partnership that will last centuries."
Seems there's an attraction between the top-tier international company and a state known more for music than manufacturing.
"From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the State of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, Gov. Haslam and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee," said Franco Gussalli Beretta, executive vice president and director of Beretta Holding, S.p.A., "… we could find no better place than Tennessee to establish our new manufacturing enterprise. We look forward to building operations here and being part of your community for many years to come."
So how did Beretta come to choose Tennessee? According to Reh, it was a very exacting process begun from one strong position -- a consistent history of support for, and a likely continuance of that support in the future. That, apparently, was the called third strike on Maryland.
At that point, business factors like tax rates, cost of living, cost of doing business, the availability of both blue and white-collar workers, and other factors, including a tradition of high-level manufacturing, quality educational institutions, availability of job recruitment, screening and training narrowed the field down to seven possible states.
Over five months, Beretta officials visited 80 potential sites in those seven states. That list was cut down to six sites -they got second and third visits.
Reh says 20 grading criteria were applied to those six sites and Gallatin, Tennessee came up the winner. But the decision wasn't final until a personal visit from Beretta patriarch Ugo Beretta on December 30, 2013 affirmed the recommendation.
Now, as Reh says, "we move forward with confidence, knowing Tennessee is a great place to do business."
Maryland, on the other hand, is seeing more demonstrable evidence that anti-gun legislation does nothing to impact crime, or criminals. But it can impact law-abiding citizens.
Although the announcement was a closely-kept secret, it was no secret that Beretta wasn't happy with the anti-gun stance pushed by O'Malley.
Last year, while Beretta was talking of expansion, Maryland was introducing laws that would make Beretta guns manufactured in Maryland illegal for residents. Jeff Rea responded with a simple question: "Why expand in a place where the people who build the gun can't buy it?"
As the O'Malley administration very publicly pushed their legislation forward, the company quietly began seeking a new home. For Beretta, the company, enough was enough. Or as Ugo Beretta put it to Reh last year, "There always seems to be a problem with Maryland."
For Beretta, that problem will only be visible in the rear view mirrors of their moving vans later this year. For a company that's been in business more than five hundred years, the 35 years in Maryland will quickly fade from their collective memory.