Firearms company to relocate to Fort Smith as part of $7 million investment


FORT SMITH — The U.S. headquarters for a firearms and weapons manufacturer will relocate to Fort Smith, officials announced Tuesday.

Thermold Magazines will relocate to Fort Smith from North Carolina. The company will be housed in the River Bend Industries building where River Bend will manufacture magazines for Thermold, and Thermold will assume assembly and distribution at the location, according to a news release.

Combined, the two companies will add 65 new jobs and invest more than $7 million, the release said.

“The entire Thermold team is excited to establish our North American headquarters in Fort Smith,” Sylvan Bednar, Thermold president, stated in the release. “Governor (Mike) Beebe, the AEDC (Arkansas Economic Development Commission), and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce have worked tirelessly to make this happen and we appreciate all of their combined efforts. Thermold Magazines is committed to helping get people back to work and being a positive influence within this great community.”

Thermold Magazines began in the 1960s as a molded plastics injection manufacturer serving the automotive industry. The company later began producing weapons magazines using a nylon resin known as Zytel that resisted heat and corrosion while functioning with high reliability, the release stated.

“This announcement does more than bring jobs to Fort Smith, it brings another center of activity to Northwest Arkansas,” Beebe said. “While Thermold Magazines and River Bend Industries will work together here to strengthen manufacturing processes and products, Thermold’s decision to also move its U.S. headquarters to Fort Smith shows the stability and manufacturing strength of this region.”

The company produces magazines for military personnel, law enforcement officers and sport shooters worldwide.

“The Fort Smith (Regional) Chamber of Commerce and AEDC put together a strategy to bring new jobs and investment to Fort Smith,” said Ron Embree, CEO of River Bend Industries. “It is a business plan that is truly win-win-win. The State and City get an additional business, Thermold gets an outstanding new home in Fort Smith, Arkansas and River Bend gets the opportunity to secure its manufacturing in Fort Smith. It’s an amazing ‘outside of the box’ solution for everyone.”

River Bend Industries is one of the largest custom molders of thermoplastics and engineering resins in the Midwest and Southern U.S. The company has three facilities in two states housing 108 molding machines in 444,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

“The decision by Thermold Magazines to locate its corporate headquarters and assembly operation to Fort Smith is exciting news for this community.” said Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith chamber. “In addition to Fort Smith gaining a new corporate headquarters, River Bend Industries will expand its operation and put more people back to work. Manufacturing in Fort Smith is still very strong, and it’s the chamber’s commitment to bring quality jobs back to this region.”

Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said the relocation “illustrates how Fort Smith continues to provide opportunity for both new and existing industries. The $7 million investment and addition of 65 new jobs is welcome news for our economy and demonstrates that local economic development efforts continue to be a high priority.”