At least one local business is already feeling the aftereffects of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.
Payson’s first ammunition manufacturer was shut out of a lucrative deal with Los Angeles County law enforcement after several California cities boycotted all trade with Arizona.
In its opening month of operation, Advanced Tactical Armament Concepts LLC (ATAC), manufacturer of “HPR” ammunition, has cranked out more than a million rounds. Boxes and boxes of cartridges sit neatly stacked in an industrial building near the Payson Airport — ammunition the owners had hoped to sell to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
However, ATAC hit a wall after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors boycotted all trade with Arizona businesses over the newly adopted immigration law, SB 1070.
ATAC partners Jim Antich, Jeff Antich and Josh Phair say they are fired up after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors banned all travel and trade with Arizona.
“California boycotting Arizona just because Arizona is trying to enforce the law is ludicrous,” Jim said. “We support legal immigration.”
Jim added he 100 percent supports 1070, which he feels is Arizona’s way to enforce existing federal immigration laws.
“Arizona is doing what it needs to do,” he said.
Mike Vogel, a former Payson councilor and economic developer with the town, who played a crucial role in bringing ATAC to Payson, said it is a shame to see political motives get in the way of good businesses.
“This is a great, outstanding manufacturer. There is no reason for it,” Vogel said.
Jim explained, for the last six months, ATAC has worked with former members of California law enforcement including retired Los Angeles County undersheriff William Stonich, to become the department’s official ammunition supplier.
If ATAC had landed the contract in Los Angeles County, Stonich speculated it would have opened the door to police departments around California and the country.
“As California goes, so goes the rest of the country,” he said.
ATAC was ready to enter the supplier bidding process, when the L.A. County Board of Supervisors banned most contracts with Arizona firms. In late June, however, L.A. council members made an exemption to the boycott, extending a contract with red-light camera operator American Traffic Solutions, based in Scottsdale.
L.A. lawmakers have argued Arizona’s law requiring police to check the immigration status of those legally stopped and suspected of being illegal immigrants is unconstitutional and will lead to racial profiling.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the immigration law. So far, however, Governor Jan Brewer remains supportive of the law.
With a ban on Arizona businesses, Phair said they are at a standstill with Los Angeles County, but are looking into other towns still willingly to work with them. ATAC is also hoping to supply all Arizona law enforcement departments.
“We are wearing it as a badge of pride,” Jeff said of the boycott.
Despite the boycott, ATAC owners say the company is quickly establishing itself in the ammunition business as an affordable, reliable manufacturer of “HPR” ammunition. Internet sales are up and the business is expanding its customer base daily.
“HPR is an accessible brand for shooters of all types,” Phair said.
Besides online, HPR is available locally at Bill Armstrong Jewelry & Pawn in Star Valley.
So far, the company has two machines, each with an operating staff of four.
Each machine is capable of cranking out 4,000 to 5,000 rounds an hour, but currently operate at 3,600 rounds an hour. Over the next year to two, they hope to add four more machines, with each machine potentially supporting 10 employees.
Jeff said each round is made with 100 percent American made products and assembled by American citizens.
“We want to provide a good quality product,” Jeff said.
“We could be cheaper if we used foreign products, but we are committed to keeping it in the U.S.,” Phair said.
To ensure quality, each round is inspected and packaged by hand in Payson.
Ironically, Jeff said 50 percent of the projectiles that go into making their rifle rounds are bought from California-based companies.
Jim said he is frustrated with California politicians, not law enforcement, which he suspects support Arizona’s immigration law.
When and if the boycott is lifted, Jim said he doesn’t know if he wants to work with Los Angeles County again.
In the meantime, Jeff said ATAC supports the “BUYcott of Arizona.”