Blackhawk Closes Norfolk Headquarters

It was the mid-2000s and business had never been better for tactical gear manufacturer Blackhawk. The real estate market was booming as well. After moving the company a couple of times around the Tidewater of Virginia during the 90s, Founder Mike Noell purchased a prime piece of real estate right next to the Norfolk International Airport in an industrial area. Fortuitously, the Norfolk Police Department’s training facility was just around the corner. With a fully stocked ground floor pro shop showcasing Blackhawk’s latest products and an inhouse design team, it became a tactical mecca for those visting Hampton Roads.

The plan was to raise two buildings on the property. The headquarters building would house the company with an entire extra floor for lease to outside businesses in order to help offset the bank note. The second building would be another source of additional income. It was never built. By the time the HQ was complete, the housing crisis began to take hold. Not long after, Noell sold Blackhawk to ATK.

Since then, ATK has tried to use the space as much as possible, moving various business units in and out. Last week, ATK’s Utah-based Vista Outdoor Inc closed the facility.

According to Vista Outdoor spokeswoman Amanda Covington “The decision to close this facility was made after careful consideration of the facts and benefits to the business, customers and stockholders.”

This closure affects 43 employees. About a quarter of them were laid off and the remainder reassigned to other facilities in Virginia Beach or Overland Park, Kansas to Vista’s outdoor-products segment.


18 Responses to “Blackhawk Closes Norfolk Headquarters”

  1. Ryan says:

    Having to make a business decision like that must be tough. I feel bad for this laid off. I hope they find new jobs quickly.

  2. ThatBlueFalcon says:

    Do they still have that massive building with “BLACKHAWK!” emblazoned across the facade off of the interstate bypass (I think 264)?

  3. SlickRick says:

    Sad to hear…. Have some of there bags. Work well! and have been very useful for me. On the flip LBT someone I have been buying gear from for over 20 years now is doing just fine….and it is a 757 gear manufacture.

  4. plong says:

    I feel bad for those losing their jobs. As for the company, Meh… no real loss as far as I’m concerned, many better options available.

  5. SSD says:

    The answer is in the story.

  6. CircleOne says:

    Orbital and ATK merged to form Orbital ATK, this year. Rumor has it, the ATK name will go away, within a year or two. Orbital is “leaning” the organization. Orbital ATK laid off 75 management in Utah today.

  7. Matt says:

    The decisions that ATK has made since purchasing Eagle Industries and Blackhawk has been nothing less than extremely disappointing. Two companies built from the ground up by regular Americans built on hardwork torn down and at the expense of hard working Americans. Well hey at least folks in Pureto Rico have jobs anyway.

    • Glen says:

      Never been to Puerto Rico…but last time I checked, they are Americans too. Pick another country/not a US Territory.

      • z0phi3l says:

        Yes we are citizens and can even join the Military!

        You’d think by now people would know PR is almost a State in many regards, just not officially

  8. Will says:

    I really dislike Americans losing their jobs. However, since most of Blackhawks gear was made overseas, I won’t lose too much sleep over this. After all, ATK swallowed up Blackhawk and Eagle. And then promptly ended almost all of Eagles American manufacturing. When will we learn? Massive companies purchase smaller successful companies, and then promptly destroy the business in one way or another. I sincerely hope all the American Blackhawk employees find work promptly. As for the foreign made, copy-cat Blackhawk gear, good riddance. I’ll be supporting companies that employ Americans. On a side note, TYR Tactical made me an admin pouch in black, even though it wasn’t listed on their website, for $19.99, in less than 60 days, and made it in the USA. That’s the kind of service that makes customers for life.

    • Terry says:

      I’ve not got any Tyr equipment, but I really should show them some love. I understand that their stuff is top-notch.

      Being Australian, I usually buy SORD.

  9. Major_Northeast_City says:

    Imo, SORD rules, and I’m an Ausie.
    I own and really like LBT, TYR, HSGI and Tactical Tailor.
    Never cared for Blackhawk.

    • Terry says:

      HSGI make top-quality gear, but I find some of their design choices to be “quirky”; things like placement of buckles and their over-reliance on bungie cord – I like their stuff, but don’t really like to use it.

    • Major_Northeast_City says:

      Darn keyboard.. the word “not” should have been in: “I’m not an Ausie” but really like SORD.
      (I’m American)

  10. Matt K. says:

    If ATK knew what they were doing, First Spear never would have happened.

    So, thank you ATK for encouraging talented people to do amazing things, elsewhere. First Spear is just one example.

    The strengths and weaknesses of the Blackhawk model taught many companies how to be successful and thrive in this market.

    Hell, some of them copied what Blackhawk was doing exactly, or were huge dealers before burning bridges with the crates their sewing machines were delivered in.

    Someone will start using the fire and diamondplate design scheme again soon, and pretend they thought of it first.

    • Haji says:

      Ya gotta admit, though, that Pyramont’s layout was brilliant at the time. There was no question it was their work. In cookie cutter marketing that much differentiation is not all that easy to get.

  11. F'n B says:

    Funny joke… Some of the people who lost their jobs have been there since day 1. Their Customer Service dept fought tooth and nail trying to assist customers as much as they were allowed to. Most of the time going beyond that putting their jobs in jeopardy just because they cared that much about helping soldiers and LEOs. The people who got hurt by this “business decisions” are not those who have any pull to drive the direction of the company. They’re the ones who attempted to lived the motto “Honor as a way of Life.”