Company History

1890s-1920s


     
Savage Arms Company was formed overtime by both Savage and Stephens to become one of the most powerful gun manufacturers in the nation. It gained high acclaim quickly when the company created the first hammerless lever action rifle. Originally started in Utica, NY, Savage Arms manufactured faster, cheaper, and more accurate rifles and guns. Today, Savage Arms is a successful producer of guns and weapons, but how did it get here? In the 20th century, Savage Arms Co. was already manufacturing high powered rifles, 
pistols, ammunition, and other weapons all in Chicopee Falls, MA. Eventually, the Savage Arms Co. would become the largest gun manufacturer in the United States.

            Before World War I, the Savage Arms Co. was run solely by Arthur Savage after being created in 1894. Looking to expand, though, Arthur Savage soon made a deal with Driggs-Seabury Ordnance Co. and joined as one gun manufacturer. During this World War I era, the company made Lewis Machine Guns, which are famous for their accuracy and speed, out of Utica, NY. While competing with other gun manufacturers, Savage Arms Co. soon acquired other small gun manufacturers and grew as the nations largest gun manufacturer.

            Joshua Stevens, a successful business man and gun manufacturer, entered the gun making industry with two partners, James Taylor and W.B. Fay, when he was 50 years old. Opened in Chicopee Falls, MA, along the Chicopee River, J. Stevens & Co. was a world leader in manufacturing until the 1900’s. After short decline and shift in ownership, J. Stevens & Co. was quickly purchased by Arthur Savage in 1920. Before purchasing the company, though, it is important to note how much the company grew from its start in 1864, from a mere 20 employees, to 1200 in 1907. Along with the factories in New York, and other areas in the United States, Arthur Savage moved much of his gun manufacturing to the Chicopee Falls factory where J. Stevens & Co. previously existed. Between 1920 and 1960, the factory was world known for manufacturing extremely accurate shotguns.

            Savage Arms Co. was in control by Arthur Savage until his death in 1938. From the little factory in Utica, NY, to the factory it is today in Westfield, MA, it grew an incredible amount. He acquired many small gun manufacturers during his control of the company, and in doing so he eliminated the competition and created the most accurate, affordable weapons of the era. His weapons were not only used domestically, but abroad in time of conflict. Savage Arms Co. would not have come to Chicopee, MA, if it had not been for Joshua Stevens and his creation of J. Stevens & Co. Joshua was unable to live to see the success his company truly brought for Chicopee, MA, for he died in 1907, but Arthur Savage lived out his company expectations and goals.

            What made Savage Arms Co. so successful was its manufacturing of the Lewis Gun. During World War I, the Lewis Gun was the most widely used warfare weapon. All Lewis Guns were either manufactured in other countries, or by Savage Arms Co. During World War I, Savage Arms Co. led the manufacturing of the Lewis Gun. Locally in Chicopee, MA, this gave the factory high employment rates and success. Chicopee employees working in the factory made weapons and ammunition that was used in the war.

            Savage Arms Co. was come a long way. It was a leader in gun manufacturing and a vital role in Chicopee’s economy. It factory, aided by the strong workforce of Chicopee, was known world wide, as well as its weapons. All of the world, people held weapons that would encrypt, “Savage Arms Co., Chicopee Falls, MA.”


1930s-1990s

Savage Arms Company, merged with Stevens Arms Company, became the most prominent arms manufacturer and technologies development leading up to WWII, through WWII, and after some switching of hands and economic setbacks, after WWII. This company was one of the most successful in Chicopee, and was incredibly influential to the economic, technological, and political contribution of Chicopee to the war efforts. Millions of weapons and arms were developed for the U.S. military, and went directly into combat, hot off the assembly line.  Savage Arms was in an incredibly good place after the First World War, and with its sporting weapons sales coupled with government orders, was maintaining a large profit.  When the Second World War struck, the company devoted itself completely to the production of large arms, munitions development, and the manufacture of military grade machines of war.  Many new weapons and technologies were created on a scale never before seen, and savage arms bore the full benefits of this situation. Factories were expanded and profits poured in from the military demand for the biggest, most bad weaponry they could get their hands on.  However, the benefits of WWII cold not hope to prepare the company for the retirement of its owner, and the shock of bad management (8).

The 1930s to the 1950s were the company’s hay days. The growth brought by war made it the largest company in New England, and well known throughout the world. Led by the founder, Savage himself, Savage Arms adapted to meet demand and thrived in creative, profitable ways. To make up for ending government contracts, the company swung its production from the manufacture of large scale munitions to commercial goods and sporting rifles and small side arms. The company also went as far as developing products that went completely against the original mold, manufacturing even a lawn mower to appeal to a new customer target: the general public. Savage was no inventor, for many of his patents were simply shrewdly bought in deals at the very start of the company, but he was a brilliant businessman. Savage built up a commercial powerhouse from a few pistol patents, and maintained that powerhouse even in times of peace. When Savage died, his inheritors sold the company, and incompetent owners stepped forward, the company went down in flames (9).

During the 1960s to the 1980s Savage Arms traded hands many times, each owner failing to stay in position long enough to make any major changes to the template left by Savage.   As the times advanced, and new technologies rose, leaving behind the Savage legacy, the company fell behind. The factories fell into poor quality disrepair, and over staffed production lines churned out more product than it sold.  The company desperately tried to stay alive, sacrificing quality for quantity.  In the 1980s, Savage Arms hit rock bottom. The owners frantically tried to simply increase production of the low quality arms, and only the name of Savage kept it from being completely liquidated. Savage was not around to save his creation (for he killed himself in San Diego in 1938) and so it would take the brilliance of another man to save the name of Savage as a reliable arms dealer, and this man was Ronald Coburn (9).

1988. Savage Arms declared bankruptcy, and its owners call to Coburn to either liquidate it, or save it. He steps up, files bankruptcy, and started a major reform of Savage Arms. In the first day of bankruptcy, Coburn fired 4/5 of the company’s employees, including all the administrative positions, and VPs.  His next move was to eliminate all of the products but two, focusing more on quality rather than quantity. No company can survive on a greater output than input of resources. The 110 bolt action rifle became the staple product of the company, and with a new focus and actual worth, the company began to rise from its burned wreckage. Within a year Coburn brought the company out of Bankruptcy, and paid off most debt. This man almost single handedly brought Savage arms back to life, and mirrored the work of Savage himself, raising a profitable organization from nothing (8).

With this new management and singular focus, the company flourished. Its innovative nature was restored in the 1990s, with new weapons technology and assorted manufacture capabilities exercised. A smokeless muzzle loader, a new Striker hunting hand gun, Accu-Trigger technology, and the environmentally friendly firing range, Snail, were all developed in a surge of advancement and success (8). The Savage Arms Company, put in the hands of the right man, from Savage to Coburn, will always succeed. It is the advancement of technology and the progression with time that keeps it alive and profitable, Steven knew that, and Coburn knows it. 

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