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A New Home for The Sportsman’s Shop

We recently completed construction on a major renovation project for The Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland, PA. The project involved transforming a former bowling alley into a new retail store, training center and shooting range. Joe Keffer, owner of The Sportsman’s Shop, recently talked with us about the new facility and why he chose to work with Weaver.

“I’ve known some of the fellows at Weaver a long time,” Joe says. “That was one reason why I approached them when we needed a new facility. But I also made a point to observe some of their projects in progress and talk to the principals involved, and I was impressed. Unlike some other projects I’ve seen, their projects stayed on schedule. That was critical to me. We had to open on time to meet our cash flow projections. Early in the project, I told Mel Weaver if they get us in on time, you’ll be the first person to fire a shot in the range. Apparently it struck a chord with Mel because he reminded me about it throughout the build.”

Jerry Allgyer, Construction Superintendent, worked closely with Joe throughout the project. “I can’t say enough about the job Jerry did,” Joe says. “I’ve never encountered anyone with such a commitment to the job. He had an exceptional ability to work with me and with the subcontractors to get things done.”

Construction Sales Manager Steve Gerhart, who helped plan and design the renovation, credits much of the project’s success to Joe Keffer. “This was the first shooting range we’ve done, for us and for the client,” Steve says. “It was a learning process for both of us, and Joe really stepped up and figured things out. His focus and his drive, and the fact that he’s so open and easygoing, kept it even-keeled and sane.” The shooting range presented unique requirements concerning air quality control, safety, and noise containment.

Beyond the range, the project presented several interesting challenges. “Working with an existing building always presents unique challenges, but for us that’s actually what makes it fun, because that’s what makes it challenging,” says Steve. “There are very few folks here on the Weaver team who are happy taking the easy way—we’re a group who likes doing new things and problem-solving. That’s what lights us up and makes us come here every day. Sometimes what makes it challenging also makes it fun.

One early challenge facing the team was the building’s façade. “It was, and is, a big old box on the outside that sits far away from the road,” Steve says. “The challenge was to try to make it attractive, to set it up to look like a place someone would want to go. For that, we focused on the entrance.”

One interior challenge was exposing the concrete floors, which were covered with a mix of flooring. “When we tore out the various floorings, every portion had a different look,” Steve says, “but that’s part of what makes the building unique. Joe enjoyed refurbishing, bringing something old that could have been torn down and making it new. When a customer enjoys that, it’s great.”

Working with an old building requires a lot of troubleshooting as the work progresses. “In a job like this, trying to make the most out of an old building, there are a lot of adaptations you make as you go, and they were very receptive to that,” Joe says. “They never made me feel like I was imposing if I got a new idea. Quite often I looked at Jerry and said, ‘Hey, Jerry, what would you do?’ I trusted him to guide us through it.”

Joe worked throughout the build to repurpose materials and preserve some of the building’s heritage. “Joe made a lot of effort to find a good use for the old bowling equipment,” Steve says. “He made two tables out of the wood from the old bowling alley lanes, one of which became his desk. He was very interested in keeping some of the building’s history around.”

The new facility allowed The Sportsman’s Shop to provide customers with many new and enhanced services. The shop’s retail space expanded from 3,500 square feet to 15,000. Joe further enhanced the retail areas with custom shelving built by a local cabinet maker.

“Usually customers have to look at guns from behind showcases,” Joe says. “If they want to see a gun up close, they have to ask the salesperson to bring it out. We’re displaying the guns in glass cabinets along the walls, so customers can walk right up and get a close look at all of them very easily. And instead of being stationed behind a showcase, the salespeople are free to roam the floor and help customers see whatever they want.”

Customers interested in trying a gun can take try it out in the new 12-lane indoor firing range. “These things will allow us to provide better service and help people choose the correct firearm,” Joe says. “We’re also able to provide training, which is sorely lacking in the industry. Many of our customers are novices. We can give them the training to make them safe and to give them confidence.”

Linford Burkholder, Construction Project Manager, was responsible for keeping the project on track, and he must have done a good job, because the project came in on time—which meant Mel Weaver got to fire that first shot in the new range.

“In a nutshell, Weaver has great people,” Joe says. “Their standards of quality are high, their commitment level is very high. They’re concerned about the end result, not about just giving what I asked for.

Am I happy? Absolutely.”

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