Walther USA is a company with a storied legacy famed for design and extreme high quality. Most customers think of the Walther PPK, but the company has become so much more than that gun. Today the new designs of Walther are still forward looking with features and refinement not always found on other guns.
Cody Osborn, Walther USA’s Marketing Manager and pro shooter, provided some insight into the company, a new product and future direction.
SSR: Many dealers would not know that Walther Arms and Umarex USA are under the same ownership.
Osborn: We are both owned by PW Group and in fact share real estate together in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Though we do operate more or less independently, the companies come together and work with dealers together frequently. Walther Arms offers all the firearms and Umarex offers all the non-firearm airguns and airsoft guns. For the dealer it is a great relationship that helps simplify offerings.
SSR: What is hot at Walther?
Osborn: The Walther PPQ is still our hottest selling handgun but the new PPQ SC, CCP and PPS series are also strong sellers. The PPQ has a huge fanbase of people who still seek it out. For dealers it is an automatic seller and stocking choice. We consistently still have new dealers coming on because of customer demand for just the PPQ handguns.
After our success with the PPS and PPS M2, the CCP series was a gun really focused at the newer shooter and the female markets — sales to that market with the CCP have been spot on.
SSR: What did Walther do to develop the CCP concept?
Osborn: It really has done well because it was designed correctly at the start. During development, we really talked to customers and dealers plus looked at additional survey information. What we discovered was that for the new shooter, the most recommended caliber was a 9mm. They wanted a small concealable form factor, and at the same time had recoil sensitivity as new shooters. Most newer shooters really did not like the idea of a gun without an external manual safety and were most concerned with overall safety. The CCP represents a design that incorporates all these customer specified design elements in a compact 9mm 8-round pistol with external safety and our own Softcoil recoil reduction technology. The CCP also has a prominent loaded-chamber indicator to further increase safety.
Although the vast majority of female shooters are not looking for colored guns, we did make some of those available as exclusives for dealers and they sell amazingly well. The CCP concept has been such a success, we are continuing to evolve the line with the CCP M2 model to release in late 2018.
SSR: What will the new features of the CCP M2 include?
Osborn: It really is more of a refinement. The main requirement is a new tool-less takedown feature, but we also provided more room in the trigger guard and a few other refinements that customers and dealers had noted.
SSR: How is Walther working with dealers?
Osborn: We have actually taken a different approach from most manufacturers. Generally dealers are left on their own with limited resources for support and marketing. Our strategy was to create a traveling Dealer Support Field Team that can be there on site with and for dealers with marketing, customer service, repair, event, training and stocking assistance. This is a great team that can help make sure dealers are successful and have complete access to all our dealer support resources. We found that oftentimes dealers noted they were not aware of all the tools, and our national traveling dealer support team ensures Walther can help maximize dealer sales. This is just one more step we take for our dealers to assure they are successful.
SSR: How does a dealer start selling Walther?
Osborn: Walther products are available widely in distribution and typically dealers will use a distributor unless they are a major national account. Even then, many large accounts will still leverage the deals the distributors offer to fulfill more diverse orders. If a dealer wants to sell Walther, most major distributors have stock. If a dealer needs help with marketing and promotion they can reach out to us directly.
SSR: Can you comment on the product diversity of Walther Arms products ranging from firearms, to airguns and airsoft?
Osborn: With Walther and Umarex USA under the same ownership, that relationship between the companies can really offer the dealer more than just firearms. Just across the Walther line, we have a PPQ in .40 S&W, 9mm, .22LR, pellet, airsoft trainers and recreational airsoft. If a shooter wants to train and shoot with one gun design across any shooting, training or recreational need, Walther & Umarex have a solution. Umarex expands that airgun and airsoft design concept to a number of other licensed brands including H&K, Tavor and many others. Hopefully dealers can see the value of having a relationship with Walther, which can support the shooting and training needs of nearly any customer while greatly increasing revenue. What customer would not want a pellet pistol version or airsoft trainer of the same gun they carry for defense?
SSR: As one of the few manufacturers who offers paddle magazine release handguns, how has the PPS been received?
Osborn: The PPS and PPS M2 have been polarizing. On one side we have people who love the original European paddle style release PPS and on the other we have customers who cannot stand it. The PPS M2 became an option for those customers who demanded a magazine release. The PPS really was the first to market sub-compact 9mm carry pistol. Glock and S&W followed after us. The PPS delivered everything the experienced CCW customer wanted in a 9mm format that was comfortable and light all day. The features of that gun, slide milling ergonomics and even integrated front rail still have made that a very strong selling gun.
SSR: Where do you see industry trends headed?
Osborn: From our perspective we are finally seeing stability coming back to the market. For the most part we have gone beyond the craziness of the back and forth glut and shortage we have seen across the manufacturers, distributors and dealers. Most dealers are now actually back to selling firearms with real salesmanship on features and functions versus just taking orders as customers throw money at them.
Despite the theory that dealers all got rich in the last decade, most dealers felt the political madness made it impossible to rationally manage and plan for the growth of their business. Though a lot of dealers were making money, both dealers and manufacturers unfortunately saw firsthand what happened to dealers who over-expanded, thinking the sales would never end — dealers became overly cautious. Coming from the sales side of Walther, I have heard from dealer after dealer noting they are glad sales are back to normal predicatable levels, and so are we.