U.S., foreign contracts lead to U.S. Ordnance expansion

U.S. Ordnance, a weapons manufacturer based at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, earlier this month broke ground on a 22,000-square-foot expansion to house its quality assurance and assembly divisions.

U.S. Ordnance Chief Executive Officer Curtis Debord says the expansion is one facet of a company-wide lean manufacturing program implemented several years ago that has allowed U.S. Ordnance to triple its manufacturing capabilities. The company makes the M2 50-caliber heavy machine gun and the M-60 7.62 millimeter belt-fed machine gun.

U.S. Ordnance also purchased a 14,000-square-foot building about 300 yards from its headquarters at Sydney Drive to store about a million pounds of steel and excess machinery, as well as to conduct preliminary manufacturing operations such as gun drilling.

"That much steel, you can't let it set outside, and it takes a lot of space inside," Debord says. "Between the expansion and the new building, it gives us a lot more space and allows us to properly implement our lean manufacturing program."

DS Allen Construction of Sparks is general contractor on the expansion, which was planned when U.S. Ordnance moved from Valley Road in Reno to its current facility in 2008. Work is scheduled to wrap up before snow falls this winter, Debord says. The contractor will erect the new structure off one end of the building and knock out the connecting wall once the shell is completed.

"It will be minimal disruption," Debord says.

The new building will increase the workflow of the manufacturing lines, as well as allow U.S. Ordnance to begin making additional weaponry lines.

U.S. Ordnance has been growing since the company was founded by Debord and his wife, Mary, in 2000. In the past two years, U.S. Ordnance has grown its workforce from 45 to 85 employees. The company also has added supplemental services, such as a chrome plating line to plate the inside of gun barrels.

Its primary customers are the U.S. and foreign governments. Currently U.S. Ordnance makes about 250 M2 machine guns barrels per month for the U.S. government, but the company's revenue stream is split between foreign and domestic markets, Debord says.

"It seems like when the U.S. government isn't ordering, the foreign orders come in. We keep a consistent flow of orders coming through. When everyone was chasing U.S. government business during the war, we were courting customers around the world. Now, so many (defense) contractors have gone out of business because the U.S. government is not ordering in big quantities. We were fortunate to spend the last 12 years building our foreign business, and we have managed to keep the work coming in."


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