On Monday, Deana McPherson began work as CFO, treasurer and assistant secretary at arms manufacturer Smith & Wesson, the company shared in a press release. McPherson joined Smith & Wesson in 2007 as corporate controller, and has been chief accounting officer since 2017.
McPherson's promotion, which Springfield, Mass.-based Smith & Wesson announced in November, follows former CFO Jeffrey Buchanan’s retirement, and the completion of the spinoff of its outdoor business, American Outdoor Brands, also announced in November.
- In her new role, McPherson must navigate "the gun industry’s booms and busts, as a recent surge in firearms demand calls for a ramp-up in production even as the company looks to stay lean," the Wall Street Journal said.
McPherson’s promotion coincides with a surge in gun sales. According to The Journal, the number of firearm background checks the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted jumped 79% last month, as compared to the same time last year. In its most recent fiscal year, Smith & Wesson generated $526 million in revenue, 10% more than the year prior.
McPherson's new role comes as part of Smith & Wesson's separation from fishing and hunting gear manufacturer American Outdoor Brands. Brian Murphy, former co-CEO of the combined company, is running American Outdoor, while Mark Smith, the other former co-CEO, runs the stand-alone firearm business.
Smith & Wesson cited a number of reasons for the split, The Journal wrote, including "a reluctance among some investors to own gun stocks, differences in the two units' business models and possible legal liabilities facing gun manufacturers."
Given that, as of last week, Smith & Wesson is a stand-alone firearms company, one of McPherson's priorities is increased efficiency, she told The Journal. "We operate using a cost model that helps us protect profitability during lower demand years, combined with a flexible manufacturing model that allows us to take full advantage of any rapid increases in customer demand," she said.
McPherson will also prioritize managing supply chain strain resulting from the recent demand surge, Steve Dyer, CEO of investment banking firm Craig-Hallum Capital Group told the Journal. "The longer-term question and issue with this business is how do you manage a boom-and-bust business in a way that's financially viable?" he said.
Following a series of mass shootings, handgun deaths, and a New York attorney general's lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, arms manufacturers are under increased scrutiny. Additionally, retailers have tightened restrictions on its gun sales, largely in response to public outcry following mass shootings.
After the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. in 2018, Dick's Sporting Goods stopped selling assault-style rifles, Walmart imposed a 21-year age requirement on gun purchases, and in 2019, Walmart discontinued ammunition sales.
Remington Arms Co., a key Smith & Wesson competitor, filed for chapter 11 last month, the Journal reported, after facing litigation following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which the killer used a Remington brand gun.