The following is a Q&A with James Cassells, Glock Inc.’s sales manager for Canada.
Cassells joined Austria-based Glock about 5 years ago after more than 30 years with the Toronto Police Service, including 10 years with its SWAT unit, the Emergency Task Force.
TheGunBlog.ca spoke with Cassells by telephone on March 22 about Glock in Canada and the company’s plans to lower prices. (Glock Cuts Pistol Prices in Canada, Leading to Industry Shakeup)
The questions and answers were edited for readability.
How many guns do you sell on average each year in Canada?
Around 5,000, 4,000 to 5,000 for private civilians.
Law enforcement is a different market.
[A single order to a police department can total 5,000 firearms, he said.]
What’s your outlook for business in Canada?
There’s increased interest in the sport — it is a recreational activity, and I’d include competition as recreational.
There are ranges being built across the Greater Toronto Area. They’re growing across the country. The sport is growing with women.
How’s the U.S. market?
There’s a slowdown in the U.S. on the gun side because of the election. Sales of all guns have slowed down a bit.
Americans typically look to Canada when things slow down there. Our situation is such that we can’t consume all their excess inventory.
How did Glock develop in Canada?
Glock was for sale in Canada before it was available in the U.S.
The mechanism for having firearms approved in Canada is somewhat simpler than it is in the U.S.
[Canadian authorities look at the type of action and length of the barrel, while U.S. authorities use “a much more convoluted process,” he said.]
Glock started being purchased in Canada by law enforcement in the early 1990s. Some of the bigger agencies that first adopted Glocks were the Quebec provincial police and the Toronto police. They were the bigger agencies that jumped on board. Today, we probably have 80 percent of agencies in Canada now.
What drives demand for Glocks?
We have had pistols in the hands of Quebec provincial police for 23 years. That’s 23 years of exposure and use, albeit limited use. It’s that length of time that really shows the durability of their pistols.
Our growth has been at the expense of our competitors. Not because their pistol design wasn’t doing the job. In many cases it did the job for many years. It was a good pistol. … They just stopped making that gun. There’s no more service and support. It’s like when a company doesn’t make a car anymore, you’re forced into a change.
We still make the model we sold 23 years ago. We still support that model. All our models use each others’ parts to a certain degree. We’re not about to make a model go away.
The design that Mr. Glock came up with was revolutionary. It changed the design of pistols forever. If you look at pistols today, there’s a lot of other polymer pistols out there. There was a time, for the first 15 or 20 years, when people just didn’t acknowledge that polymer could do the job. Same with the striker-fired design. A lot of people have copied the basic design and now try to use a minimal number parts.
I’ve noticed lower prices for Glocks, and heard that you plan to work with a new distributor?
As of March 1, we restructured our prices.
We always keep a close eye on things. We work with distributors in Canada. We try to address their concerns.
We made a decision here in Canada … to restructure our pricing. We were able to bring the price down by close to $100 on one of our most popular pistols, the Glock 17 in 9 mm. We were able to bring our prices down.
The price in Canada is largely dictated by the exchange rate. Firearms in Canada come from the U.S. for the most part.
We’re running things very tightly. We may have to adjust prices, depending on where the dollar goes, but I don’t see any dramatic changes.
AmChar [Wholesale Inc., from New York state] started about a month ago, Korth [Group Ltd., from Alberta] will stop on March 31.
We left on very amicable terms with Korth. They were a very good distributor for us. We’re sorry to see them go. I’m very happy for them. I don’t want to leave any kind of impression of a falling out. We’re on good terms.
How do you view customer service?
We have a huge customer following, in law enforcement, armed security and commercial. Service and support is hallmark.
The product is what the product is. What we can control is the service and support.
We don’t rely on the U.S. for anything except the supply of the original product. We don’t ship back to the U.S. We have to have that support mechanism.
What do your clients like about Glocks?
They’re cost effective, easy to maintain, reliable.
It’s utilitarian in design.
It is a military-grade pistol as far as the quality goes, and that’s one of the reasons it’s popular in the professional market.
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