ILION, NY - The question mark has been replaced by an exclamation point; new owners say that Remington Arms will remain in Ilion.
"No matter what, we will keep a footprint in Ilion. That's 100%. It's the legacy of the company, so I don't see Ilion ever going away, not as long as I have anything to do with the ownership," says Managing Partner Richmond Italia. "So, definitely, we will always keep a footprint there. Question is, how big will that footprint be?"
It will be much smaller, at least to start.
"We've agreed to bring back 200 hourly employees, as we discussed earlier. Anything more than that basically comes down to our negotiations with the state," says Italia.
Roughly 700 people worked at the plant recently, including the 200-250 who worked on the Marlin line, which was bought, at auction, by Sturm, Ruger & Co. Italia says Remington Arms will be strictly an outdoor/sporting company, and will not make military weapons.
Local state lawmakers are already working on making sure Remington stays in Ilion... or close.
"I even have calls in to the governor's office today, to get the governor involved in the effort," says Senator James Seward. "Those connections are being made as we speak and those conversations will begin in earnest very very soon."
While the new owners are aware of Remington's iconic name and presence in Ilion, and are committed to preserving both, they say the Ilion plant is outdated and does not lend itself to safe, large-scale, efficient production.
"Unfortunately, the legacy building that we have in Ilion, based on four floors is just not ideal for manufactuirng in today's age," says Italia. "So, the ideal scenario is to basically find and move into maybe retrofit another building that somebody had left behind or build new."
Senator Seward is on that, as well.
"We've already started discussions in terms of alternate sites, locally, right near their current site," says the senator.
Italia says the Round Hill Group, which recently bought Remington Arms at auction, is committed not only to growing in New York State, but also to preserving the jobs of the people who work at the Ilion plant, who, he says, are the best at what they do.
"Am I open to other areas of New York? Only if they're within commuting distance of our employee base. Because the only reason we're considering New York is because of the employee base."
Both the company The United Mine Workers of America say the union isn't going anywhere.
"We don't anticipate the union leaving Remington at all," said Phil Smith, Director of Communications and Government Affairs, UMWA. "I don't want to presuppose what our position would be at bargaining, but our goal here is to make sure all of our members get back to work, back to the same jobs they were working before, back to the same pay rate they were working before."
Smith says the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is taking over the pension plan, and members should see no change in benefits.