CHICAGO — The road to financial success started in H.J. Mennie’s garage in rural Illinois, where the tool and die-maker built a parts manufacturing business selling to Fortune 500 companies from Caterpillar to Cummins. His strategy worked for four decades, until the last recession and global commerce’s volatility slashed the firm’s profits and workforce.
H.J.’s children now run Mennie Machine Co., and they’re turning to what they believe is the great economic equalizer: producing semiautomatic rifles and handguns to satisfy growing American demand. The factory last week shipped its first orders of the AR-15, among the most popular guns in the nation. A variant of the weapon was used in the Dec. 14 massacre that killed 26 children and staff in Newtown, Conn.
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