Beaton’s 40th – Expansion in Perth
As part of our 40th Birthday celebrations I’m sharing a little of the history of Beaton Firearms and how we went from Bill Beaton’s back shed to become one of the larger and most diverse businesses in the firearm industry. This follows on from the previous blog – Beaton Firearms’ move from the outback to it’s shop front in Maddington in the year 2000.
The first few years in the city were hard for Bill. There were many challenges – looking for a new house to move into with his family; trying to get accounts with wholesalers; getting his name out as a gunsmith; stocking the shelves. Investing in capital is difficult when self-funding a store front.
After only a few months in the new storefront Bill Beaton was visited by David Littlejohn, a representative of Nioa Trading. With the exchanging of business cards and a handshake Bill was granted an account with Nioa Trading, giving Beaton Firearms a 30-day cash-gap. This created leverage for Beaton Firearms – instead of ordering what stock he could afford and paying cash, Bill could order stock he would expect to sell in 30 days and pay for it once he sold it.
Advertising as a machinist and light engineer gave Bill an additional revenue stream – Bill was able to use ability to ‘see’ how something was supposed to work to complete work for companies such as Compressed Air Repairs and Southern Wire. This sort of work was paying better than gunsmithing at the time, so Bill largely left the running of Beaton Firearms in my hands, only completing a small amount of gunsmithing in the morning and evenings. This was the first stage of the company that led to massive expansion.
Not having to support a family solely on the profit generated by Beaton Firearms meant that decisions regarding investing in capital were made much easier. The profits generated from Beaton Firearms were reinvested back into stock on the shelves – one cabinet of guns quickly became two – three – four. The storefront went from a single long counter to an ‘L’ shape to a ‘U’ shape for the extra stock to be displayed. A CNC machine was purchased; a new lathe; better hand tools. We experimented with muzzle brake designs; with different bedding compounds and different custom gun part manufacturers. We began fitting custom stocks from Richards and McMillan and buying dozens of custom-ground reamers as our custom rifles became more and more popular.
By 2009 the demand for firearm repairs was growing and Beaton Firearms was so busy that it became more profitable for Bill to return to Beaton Firearms than contract out to engineering companies. Nicole Lee (who later became Nicole Beaton) started doing the bookwork at Beaton Firearms and we contracted the services of an executive business coach by the name of Cameron Rogers who was able to provide the training and motivation required to take the company to the next level – this was the second stage of expansion for the company. By 2011 Beaton Firearms had grown from a small 1 person store to a business employing 4 people.
Beaton Firearms went from strength to strength to become one of the largest firearm organizations in Western Australia, with each risk and leap being funded out of Bill’s own pocket.
Beaton Firearms owes much of it’s initial success to Nioa Trading. Without their relationship, Beaton Firearms could never have grown to be as large as it is today. Rob Nioa, David Littlejohn, Phil Mules and Jason Dietrich all deserve special thankyous for their dedication that helped a small family business succeed in a challenging industry.
I would also like to personally thank Michael Cubis and Brad Stevens – these are both awesome guys that I’ve been mates with a long time now. Business success is about relationships and it was their friendship that gave me absolute confidence to invest in Nioa.
– Zaine Beaton