Editor’s Note: The author is sponsored by Leupold. He was not paid by Leupold to write this post.
Leupold is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon where I was given a factory tour to see the magic happen. I also happened to be there the same day as the U.S. Marine Corps Shooting Team, so I got to meet them which was great. I’m excited to share what I saw during my tour.
Leupold employs about 700 people in their Beaverton corporate headquarters and factory. It is situated in beautiful, natural surroundings with lush trees which make it an ideal area to test their products.
On the factory floor, there are numerous CNC machines, all cranking out parts for Leupold products. The machines run 24/7, and even at that rate Leupold says they cannot keep up with demand at this time. For someone like me who came from the computer software world, it is quite neat to see physical products being made in real time.
We saw the process around how stand alone lenses are tested to ensure they have maximum clarity. A combination of scopes, lights, computers, and other gadgetry put these lenses through their paces. And this is all before they are even installed in a product.
What was also nice to see is how Leupold focuses on reducing waste by recycling aluminum shavings. They make a good chunk of change each month selling the aluminum leftovers to a third party. Not only does this reduce waste, but it is good business when you can make money off of your trash!
They have a sizable assembly area which is buzzing with activity. Parts going to their appropriate stations, line workers assembling scopes, then final products head off to packaging. I got to watch line technicians dutifully assemble a number of scopes, each station has a number of quality control checks with many hands and eyes touching each product. If there’s any problem with a product, it goes into a reject bin whose contents are later analyzed to figure out where, how, and why things fell short.
I was most impressed with the hand assembly line was the part of the tour. I assumed that a company as big as Leupold would have fully automated the production line in order to keep costs down, and to help keep up with orders. No matter the industry, slowing things down for TLC usually increases the quality of the product. Additionally, the need for hand assembly produces jobs to help support the local community.
Leupold has an intense stress test room where they push not only their products, but their competitors’ products to the limits. The details of their tests are proprietary information, but the lead tester told us stories about how he literally “sweeps up the floor” when competitor products fall apart during stress tests. All Leupold products have to pass stress tests which go far and beyond most real-world uses and applications.
For a closer look at the factory, Leupold created a factory tour video:
And for fun, to give you an idea of what kind of abuse a Leupold scope can take: