In what the company calls an “internal restructuring,” the makers of the high-tech TrackingPoint precision-guided rifle have laid off 45 employees — including engineers and research and development specialists — multiple sources tell Grand View Outdoors, with more layoffs to come.
A source with direct knowledge of the layoffs says the cuts represent about 50 percent of the company’s workforce, adding there are only 48 employees left.
The layoffs coincide with a Feb. 23 announcement that the Pflugerville, Texas-based company experienced a 281 percent sales growth in 2014 with a 107 percent increase in orders over 2013.
TrackingPoint also announced it has appointed Frank Bruno as CEO, replacing interim CEO John Lupher who led the company since late 2013.
The latest workforce cut comes about 16 months after the company fired 31, including its then-CEO and CFO.
TrackingPoint manufactures sophisticated rifles that use specially designed optics to execute precise shots at extremely long distances on moving targets.
In an interview, TrackingPoint CEO Bruno declined to disclose precisely how many employees were let go, but he did confirm that the layoffs focused “principally in research and development.”
“If you consider the last four years and the amount of money that was invested, the heavy lifting is done,” Bruno said, adding that the company has spent nearly $40 million developing its so-called “Precision-Guided Firearm.”
“The core technology is foundationally mature,” he said. “There is no major transformation that needs to be done with it.”
A resident of Austin for over two decades, Bruno assumed the role of TrackingPoint CEO about a month ago after a career running companies in the electronic components sector. He said the company needed his experience in operations and supply chain management to help TrackingPoint grow in the consumer and defense markets.
“As the company matures the way TrackingPoint is, we’re transitioning from strictly R&D to actually an operating company,” Bruno said.
Despite claiming an over 280 percent growth in sales, Bruno declined to say how many guns TrackingPoint sold. A source told Grand View Outdoors the company had sold about 300 rifles by mid-2014, but that sales had dropped to a trickle since then.
The source added the company was in deep financial trouble, an allegation Bruno denies.
It is still unclear whether shooters have embraced TrackingPoint’s technology, which essentially uses a computerized sighting system to execute a shot on moving game. The company has also developed computer-assisted sighting systems for AR platforms and has even designed a way to tie optics similar Google Glass to its guns.
And though costs have come down on some of TrackingPoint’s guns, the Precision-Guided Firearm system is still expensive — with a .300 Winchester Magnum bolt-gun costing nearly $13,000 and an AR version costing over $7,000.
And as if cost wasn’t enough of a barrier, some state game officials are moving to ban the technology from hunting, saying it’s contrary to fair chase ethics.
Despite some market trepidation, Bruno claims interest is growing in TrackingPoint’s products in both the civilian and military markets.
“As the brand becomes more popular and the technology is adopted more, and as we’re able to refine the PGF in terms of cost and all the other functions … the consumer market is going to grow,” Bruno said. “There’s exponential growth that is going to happen with TrackingPoint, I can promise you that.”
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