State News

The hunt for 'Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin' ends with Big Boy Rifle on top

Henry Repeating Arms’s Big Boy All Weather Rifle was voted first place in the fourth annual “Made in Wisconsin” competition at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Business and Industry luncheon in Milwaukee on Oct. 8. 

Henry Repeating Arms’s Big Boy All Weather Rifle was voted first place in the fourth annual “Made in Wisconsin” competition at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Business and Industry luncheon in Milwaukee on Oct. 8. 

Image By: Will Cioci

The fourth annual “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin,” competition presented its grand prize trophy to Henry Repeating Arm’s ‘Big Boy All Weather Rifle’ Tuesday in front of 500 of the state’s leading business influencers. 

With over 240,000 votes cast on over 160 products initially nominated, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce alongside Johnson Financial Group awarded the Rice Lake-based company the title after over two months of campaigning across the state. 

“When a product is ‘Made in Wisconsin,’ it means something,” Jim Popp, CEO and President of the Johnson Financial Group, said. “We are proud to have meaningful partnerships built with local manufacturers in communities throughout the state. Wisconsin is a true leader in manufacturing, and we congratulate all manufacturers who choose the Badger State as their home.”

After speaking with staff members of Henry Repeating Arms, the strong dignity associated with manufacturing products in Wisconsin was evident — especially for those within the small Rice Lake community of under 10,000 people. 

Andy Wickstrom, General Manager of the Race Lake manufacturing facility, said the recognition gained from winning this competition was a real “coming-together” moment for the company and the community it serves.

“We’re proud to be from Wisconsin. To be recognized as the coolest thing in Wisconsin is very rewarding. We’re very appreciative for our community,” Wickstrom said. “Just walking around the community, everybody tells me how many people voted. Some people have said to me ‘I’ve voted for you everyday!’”

Wickstrom takes great pride in the active support and involvement Rice Lake showed in appreciating the local value of the company. 

“I know that there is a sense of pride, you know, for everyone who works at Henry just because of the quality of the product that they’re involved in bringing to fruition,” Headquarter Communications Director Dan Clayton-Luce said. 

Henry Repeating Arms offers many opportunities for workers to move up in the company, such as training programs — education classes and a series of tests — that allow employees to qualify for job promotions and pay increases. 

“I can think of someone right now. He walked through the door at an entry level position, and five years later, he’s our top level operator on our CNC work,” Wickstrom shared with admiration. “So we encourage education and testing, and if you can prove you can pass our test, you get a bump.”

The company completes the entire process of making their gun at its 137,000 square foot facility in Rice Lake. Aspects of assembling their gun include casting, stamping, polishing, finishing and much more; each element is supported by engineers and other professionals in areas of expertise. 

“The coolest thing about Henry Repeating Arms is the fact that every part of the rifle is American made and is backed by a lifetime warranty and satisfaction guarantee. I think that, in a nutshell, is what separates us from pretty much every other company in the firearms industry,” Clayton-Luce said. 

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