If ever there is a testimony to the all-American success story, inventor and entrepreneur Fred Wagenhals has lived it. In a career spanning more than five decades, Wagenhals, by the age of 21, had established his reputation as an innovator with the various inventions he designed, built, and patented. Those inventions included a two-man, jet-pumped boat design used in jet ski watercrafts; 1:3-scale, gas-powered mini-cars used in various television shows and films; a computerized motor that powered the mechanical bulls popularized by the 1980 move Urban Cowboy, the Jolly Rancher motorized stagecoach; and the NASCAR die-cast miniature collectable cars, to name a few.
Chairman and CEO of AMMO, Inc. 2016 - PRESENT
Fred Wagenhals is Chairman and CEO of AMMO, Inc., (Nasdaq: POWW), a leading vertically integrated producer of high-performance ammunition and components and owner of GunBroker.com, a global online commerce leader serving the firearms and shooting sports industries that connects millions of buyers and sellers around the world, acquired in April 2021.
AMMO was founded in 2016 by Wagenhals with a single vision -- to change, innovate, and invigorate the complacent munitions industry for the next generation of shooters. Wagenhals and his executive leadership team have accomplished that and more in just six years.
AMMO has experienced explosive growth and is expected to continue in 2022 and beyond. The company has gone from an OTC stock to being listed on Nasdaq: POWW; the revenue in 2016 was $2 million and in 2022, AMMO’s annual revenue is projected to be $250 million. AMMO has quadrupled staff at its Scottsdale headquarters and Wisconsin manufacturing facility and is building a 160,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin scheduled to open July 2022.
AMMO has built a comprehensive ammunition and brass case product line with more than 60 different products such as STREAK Visual Ammunition which, through its patented technology allows the shooter to visually see the bullets’ path toward its target, patented armor piercing and hard armor piercing incendiary ammunition, ballistic match multi-purpose and signature-on-target ammunition, each supporting the Company’s US and ally nations’ military and the law enforcement community.
In 2021, AMMO acquired GunBroker.com for $240 million. GunBroker.com is an online marketplace matching buyer and seller together focused on the ammunition, firearms, accessories, and broader outdoors market. After transactions occur, the seller is responsible for shipping and the price is determined through site interaction. GunBroker.com then charges a service fee for supporting the transaction.
The acquisition of GunBroker.com provided AMMO access to a business model with consistent cash flow, low operating costs, and industry leading margins.
GunBroker.com promotes responsible gun ownership and offers its customers a safe, secure, and transparent venue to buy and sell guns online by strict adherence to gun ownership policies and regulations through licensed firearms dealers as transfer agents.
ACTION PERFORMANCE COMPANIES
Prior to starting AMMO, Wagenhals was the powerhouse marketer, product architect, promoter, and manufacturer in the world of motorsports as founder and CEO of Action Performance Companies, Inc. At Action, Wagenhals shaped the company’s success by negotiating long-term, exclusive licenses with motorsports’ most popular drivers and teams by using diverse distribution channels and creating innovative and strategic branding; and, by maintaining an outstanding reputation for creativity, quality, and authenticity.
In just nine years, Wagenhals catapulted Action Performance from three employees working around a card table to more than $407 million in sales and over $45 million in profits. There was no one in the motorsports industry that was even close to what Wagenhals was creating with Action Performance Companies.
Action Performance produced die-cast miniature race car replicas sold through a collectors' club, at racing venues, and through other mainstream distribution channels. Action also manufactured various racing souvenirs such as miniature replica drivers' helmets and sold racing-style clothing including t-shirts, leather jackets, and baseball caps for children, teens, and adults.
The company's enormous growth came in the 1990s as interest in stock car racing skyrocketed in the U.S. There were few other companies serving this niche market and Action Performance took advantage of its marketing acumen and rode the wave of racing popularity by strategically buying other companies and continually exceeding unique marketing expectations.
At the onset, Wagenhals clearly understood that for Action Performance Companies to get the significant funding it needed to be successful, he had to secure the rights to reproduce the most revered car in NASCAR -- driver Dale Earnhardt's black “number three.” Wagenhals sold his home, moved into a small apartment, and paid Mr. Earnhardt his last $300,000, his personal bank account was now depleted – a fearless, but strategic move by Wagenhals that paid off significantly in time. Wagenhals knew he now had a corner on what would be a booming market.
By 1998, Action had positioned itself as one of the major toy makers in the United States. NASCAR toys were said to be the third bestselling item in the entire toy industry, and Action Performance had approximately 60 percent of the NASCAR market. Wagenhals successfully navigated Action Performance onto the NYSE and in 2005 he sold the company for more than $245 million.
Awards, Accomplishments, and Accolades
2021 – AMMO acquired GunBroker.com, the largest online marketplace dedicated to firearms, hunting, shooting and related products for $250 million
2010 – Inducted into the Die-Cast Hall of Fame
2011 – Named Professor of the Year for teaching a sports entrepreneurship course at the University of Arizona
2005 – Wagenhals sold Action Performance Companies for more than $245 million
1998 – Wagenhals successfully navigated Action Performance onto the NYSE
1998 – Action had positioned itself as one of the major toy makers in the United States. NASCAR toys were said to be the third bestselling item in the entire toy industry, and Action Performance had approximately 60 percent of the NASCAR market
1997 – Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Inc.– sponsors included Ernst & Young LLP, the Kauffman Foundation, the NASDAQ Stock Market, USA Today
1997 – 1998 Anheuser-Busch Entrepreneur in Residence Award from the University of Arizona College of Business and Public Administration
1996 – Wagenhals established a critical alliance with giant toymaker Hasbro in 1996. The two companies develop a line of highly popular and successful racing toys called Winner's Circle