By Randy Kirby
Starline Brass Manufacturing and its administrator, Barbara Hayden, were recognized for outstanding achievements by EDSPC (Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County) during a ceremony held at the EDSPC offices on Monday afternoon.
Starline was approved by the Missouri State Department of Economic Development (MoDED) for an EEZ (Enhanced Enterprise Zone) expansion at the company’s facility at 1300 West Henry in Sedalia.
The expansion will include a $1.4 million real and personal property investment and the creation of 10 new full-time jobs. Starline will receive $46,447 in tax credits for the project, EDSPC President John Swearingen said.
The project will also include a proposed underground storm shelter that will be constructed on site.
This is the second EEZ project that Starline has successfully completed; the first one was awarded from the state on Jan. 16, 2008. That award was for a $2 million expansion with the addition of eight full-time employees.
Starline completed the five-year program in four years and therefore was eligible to reapply for another EEZ award in 2012, Swearingen explained.
“We are proud that once again, one of our existing companies is moving forward, he stated. “Starline has managed to do this in times that are less than perfect, for certain, and we’re awfully proud of that.”
Starline produces high-quality brass casings for reloading ammunition for handguns. The company has more than 30 years of experience and ships their product worldwide.
“Over the years, we’ve expanded the business. We made a lot of private label stuff. We basically have three distributions of business — consumer direct, we have the wholesale network and we also have the industrial business, which is serving the ammunition companies,” said company founder Robert Hayden.
“I have to give my son (Bobby) a lot of the credit,’ Hayden noted. Bobby Hayden suggested catering to unusual items. “We have about 75-80 different casings in our line, and about 75 percent of that is servicing old-time weapons.”
Starline has assumed a good chunk of the cowboy mounted shooting business, Hayden pointed out, adding that the sport was again featured at the 2012 Missouri State Fair.
“Also, my son went to Hollywood and got them to buy a case of 5-in-1 Blanks. Just about every movie you see where there’s a shoot-em-up, they are using Starline casings,” Hayden remarked.
“Back in ‘08, we expanded (the plant) about 4,500 square feet,” Hayden explained. “That took care of us for a while, but we’ve got to the point where we need to make a major expansion, because we also want to (produce) some rifle brass. We kept putting it off for years, because we just haven’t had the time to do it, and our handgun business has just been so strong,” Hayden said, adding the currently proposed expansion is 15,000 square feet, and that will take us up to 49,000 square feet. And that should be adequate for the next five years.”
Hayden commented that he didn’t expect this kind of success for his business. “You just never know, we didn’t think we were going to be this big, we thought we’d be a small business,” he mused. Starline currently employs 56 people over three shifts. The manufacturing plant is also in operation on some Saturdays.
Hayden mention that California, where Starline got its start, was an unfriendly environment for small business, citing problems with taxation and workman’s compensation.
“I wanted to move an area that was at least 75 miles from anyplace,” he smiled. “We’re not influenced by those big cities, and that’s very important to us.”
He surmised that is the reason many corporations move their headquarters to the Sedalia area. “We have all the services we need, but we don’t have the big city influence,” Hayden concluded. “It’s a family business, it really is.”
Hayden complimented his production manager David Wolf and his workforce.
His wife Barbara pointed out that her husband retired from Sierra Bullets after spending 42 years with them.
Mrs. Hayden was presented with Governor Nixon’s “Minority and Small Business Award” at the Governor’s Conference held in St. Louis on Friday, Sept. 7.
The criteria for the award is that the business must be 51-percent owned, operated and controlled in Missouri by a minority or non-minority Missouri resident with 100 or less employees.
The company must have operated for a minimum of three years in Missouri, as well as gives back to the community through contributions, volunteerism or in-kind services. In addition, it must maintain a responsible and rewarding workplace environment.
Swearingen presented Barb Hayden with a bouquet of flowers and displayed the plaque given to her by Gov. Nixon.
Sedalia Mayor Elaine Horn congratulated the Haydens on their accomplishments at Starline.
“It is truly a privilege to have you and your company and your ethics in Sedalia. You have set the bar for all the other companies with your leadership,” Mayor Horn said.
Pettis County Presiding Commissioner John Meehan thanked the Haydens for choosing Pettis County to locate their company.
Robert Hayden estimated he may have upwards of 75 people employed after the expansion is complete.
“The product sells itself; we really don’t have a large sales force. We advertise quite a bit in the shooting sports magazines; we have a nice website. Sedalia’s really been good for us,” Hayden told the News Journal. When we first moved here, it really was a depressed area back in the early ‘90s with 10 percent unemployment and the workforce was eager to work.
“Septagon has been our builder ever since we started here; they built both of our plants and all of our expansions,” he said.
Hayden was hired in 1969 by Sierra Bullets to go California and ended up running the company for 42 years. “It’s all I’ve ever done in my life,” he noted.
Before Sierra, Mr. Hayden worked nine years for Remington.
“My hobby is field troweling water dogs,” Hayden said. “In fact, I just got back from South Dakota last weekend, and I’m headed to St. Louis this afternoon to go troweling this weekend. My son basically runs the business now and Barb handles the administration. Now I can play a little bit,” he laughed. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.