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State of Boss 2024

Greetings fellow Bossmen. It’s hard to believe another year has passed since the last State of Boss message went out. Typically, and in the most atypical fashion, I stick to the talking points, discussing only the facts at hand and communicate using as few words as possible. Anyone who has spent time with me during work hours will understand that in reality, that’s not how I roll.
I want to spend a minute discussing some of the highpoints of 2023 as they will provide insight into what you’ll see in 2024.
The Program
We launched our loyalty program late last summer with hopes of hitting our membership goal over the following 12 months. Turns out we filled up the allocated slots in a few short weeks. We will be opening up more Program slots later this summer as Meg puts the finishing touches on some of the backend website buildouts currently under construction with our web people. The loyalists who got in last season have saved on products, swiped members only apparel (when they could) and even seen some new products and have been testing them with great success. We will have more stuff headed out to the members in the coming weeks. 
Hugo Boss
Lawyers doing lawyer things forced our web developer to take down any merch that had the word Boss on it. Unfortunately we had no recourse but to file a federal lawsuit against them. It’s still ongoing. No end in sight. Look for non-Boss named apparel soon. You never know, a name change might happen if the Germans prevail. When life give you limes, make Margaritas. 
The new shell and it’s functional technology sold better than some on the team had predicted. Who would have thought that getting into wad manufacturing would lead to new ideas and opportunities for growth? Funny how that works….
The Hoodie
We FINALLY have a stable process for our hoodies. Ricardo, one of my top guys at Ultra Seal, the same guy who moonlights as our Money Bag manufacturer, transformed his pole barn into a full service garment manufacturing facility. Dirk found a mill down in the Carolinas to manufacture and dye fabric woven to our specs using USA grown cotton. The damn things are expensive but as I sit here wearing a Warchief hoodie I can confidently say that they are the best in class. Bar none. Good shit ain’t cheap and cheap shit ain’t good. 

Powder Shortage
In late December I had a conversation with our powder guys at Hodgdon and got some shitty news. It was reported to me that powder prices were going up and supply was going down. I'll try and keep this short. Nitrocellulose is still hard to get, most of the low cost Chinese material seems to have been diverted to other areas of the world (I think Russia). The largest European manufacturer of NC lost a significant amount of manufacturing capacity last summer with a plant explosion and is 9 months behind in production. The USA made NC is “military weapons grade” and about 10X the cost of commodity material. On top of that, the DOD is ordering insane amounts of ammunition, the powder plants have all the military business they can handle and Hodgdon is only going to get 80% of what they got last year. They also have been asked to service some OEM’s that the plants serviced directly over the last year or so. Not good. Worst of all, our prices shot up 25-50% depending on the powder used. The last time things got tight like this was during covid. 

I promised myself that I would never let this happen again and to our credit, we have managed to build a small surplus of powder over the last few years which should allow us to fare better than others in terms of production capacity this year. More than likely, we will have to adjust pricing at some point as our new powder deliveries arrive. I do envision shortages in 2024. We will do our best to stay ahead of this issue. Out of stock items will be available for pre-order in the coming weeks before the new price increases take effect. Program members pricing will not be affected. 

Expanding the Product Lineup
Launching new products in times of supply shortages may be less than ideal and controversial at least, but we refuse to let outside issues kill the momentum inside Boss. When I developed the wad we now use in Warchief, I quickly learned that there was a lot we could do with our newfound “expertise” in plastic molding. During the process of designing wads for the various Warchief offerings I wanted to design and build a wad specifically for Tungsten/TSS and we did exactly that. Here is the backstory on what inspired me to get into the wad business:
During Covid and the ensuing ammunition panic buying and resulting shortages we received a call one day with “Tudor Investment Corp” displayed on the caller ID. The caller was looking for #6 shot and anyone familiar with the early days of Boss knew that there was about a 2 year span when we didn’t make 6’s. The caller was rather insistent and told us that his boss had to have 6’s and later asked us to develop a very specific load for him. Not knowing at the time that the man behind the specific demands was Paul Tudor Jones. Paul not only happens to be a self-made billionaire but also one of the most prominent conservationists of our time. As I have come to learn more about this cool guy, it turns out that he has been a rather silent partner in many well known initiatives with some of the most respected conservation groups not only here in the USA but also the world over. As an aside, I was instantly a fan of him once I realized that his daughter Caroline toured with my favorite musician of all time, Jimmy Buffett, back in 2018. I was fortunate enough to see her open for JB as well as watch her play a few songs alongside him. Although I have never met Caroline and never got to meet Jimmy, both musicians had the ability to capture a crowd in a fashion reserved only for the greats. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stapleton, Tom Petty and Crosby Stills & Nash are the only ones that I have seen live that have pulled off such a feat. It seems that Zac Brown saw the same thing the rest of us did, as she is now a full time member of his band. Small world. Back to the point. Guys like Paul don’t achieve the success they did by taking no for an answer and while I think I have the same affinity for being stubborn, I graciously let Paul win that one. While Paul did get his special run of 6’s in 2020, the load he really wanted turned out to be a jointly developed creation which he fondly refers to as “Kryptonite.” He and his team pushed for the best shotshell possible not only for Paul’s consumption but also for the environment. The end result was a lineup of low recoiling, light payloads of 18g/cc Tungsten 9’s with the bio-consciously engineered LDPE plastic wad complete with Bio-Tec’s Eco-Pure additive. Paul was able to inspire a change in my perspective based upon an exacting set of demands. The trickle down effect lives on in not only the upcoming Tungsten lineup but also in Warchief. In time the same technology will trickle its way into our Legacy shells. There’s also more ideas being kicked around, some of which are currently being tested. Suffice it to say, the future is looking bright and my inspiration continues to be derived from a relentless pursuit of consumer satisfaction. 
As a result of Paul’s special project, program members got but a sample of that very shell (in their favorite caliber) to test at the tail end of the 23-24 season. The feedback has been unanimously positive and is moving into production. Look for 3/4oz 28ga, 7/8oz 20ga and 1oz 12ga later this summer. We are still working on the name and logo. Trust that it will be cool and “on brand.”

Market Demand
As Boss has continued to grow beyond my wildest dreams, one of the internal struggles I continually fight myself with is product related. Where do we stop? How far do we go? Is good enough ever good enough? When Boss was founded there was 1 shell. Bismuth. Later on I developed the process to plate copper onto the shot and the running change was made. We were able to build a business on 1 single shell. Last year we developed Warchief, still using bismuth. Customer feedback told us there was demand for more expensive, as well as lower cost ammunition and since I had the knowledge to build the wads that would allow us to mass produce the shells we felt it necessary to answer the call. Steel. Just like with TSS, there is value in the shot and just because I will never shoot it doesn’t mean that some of our customers won’t. (This brand is bigger than the sum of it’s parts and not exploring the viability of an in demand product, or better yet, running with a half-crazed idea in the name of conservation is not only self indulgent but harmful to the Boss Mission.) In my mind 50% of the work we do at Boss relies on educating our audience. We know that not everyone can afford a premium priced shotshell, but by offering a premium product-albeit with range limitation-we can offer a lower cost entry point into the Boss community. Not only inspiring proper conservation and woodsmanship at an entry level price, but offering them a path to more premium products as their budget allows. 

Steel Reserve
I grew up in the early Steel era of waterfowl hunting and grew to loathe the stuff. It patterned like crap, it wasn’t fun to shoot and the only reason I shot it was because the alternatives were too expensive for the wages I was earning at the time. As Boss grew I never gave up on the thought that there was room in the stable for a steel product and if the message was communicated in crystal clear fashion, the product line will lead to overall success not only for Boss but for our customers in the field. I’ve been so focused on the development of this product that I will admit my time spent trying to figure out the nuances of marketing the product have been virtually non-existent for all the right reasons. In my mind, product performance trumps marketing, especially with a known technology with inherent flaws due to the lack of pellet density. At the same time I was on the fence about doing a steel shell, my buddy Joel Strickland, owner of the ever growing YouTube Channel “Surviving Duck Season” nudged me one day and said that he would love to see me try to make a Arkansas Timber load for ducks using Steel 3’s. As stubborn as I am, I’m also better at seldom saying “No” so I jumped on it. Head first. Without going into too much of the technical nitty-gritty I’ll give a little background. By changing the “core” of the wad tool that forms the “inside” of the shotcup we were able to take the Warchief wad and thicken the petals to allow for steel shot to be used. What we wound up with is something that patterns in the high 90’s with ease at 30 yards moving at speeds that will kill very cleanly anything inside that distance. Keep your shots inside 30 and you can get by with an extremely budget friendly steel shell. My initial push to develop the shell’s identity was to aim for the younger guy wanting to shoot Boss but doesn’t have the cash to spend on a $1.50-2.00 shell. That thought instantly took me back to 2001 when I was a broke college kid who wanted to shoot the OG Remington Hevi-Shot but also needed to save some money for chasing girls and buying beer on a fake ID. Because I was a down and dirty blue collar guy back then and still am today we decided that the new load shall be properly named….. Steel Reserve. Let’s be real… what 20-something duck hunter has never had too much month at the end of the money, especially during duck season……

Growing older, not up.
In short. Boss is growing. By design. I am a firm believer of the adage that says “Businesses are either growing or dying.” The best ideas, products and initiaitives can literally sink a business if there is not a team ready to support them and we have come to the point where we need help. Let’s face it. We have not done a great job self-promoting our brand. We always chose to let the product speak for itself and it largely has. In order to keep the Boss ship afloat, we need more dedicated, smart and hardworking people on our team. Video. Production. Web. If anyone has any interest, shoot us your resume at careers@bossshotshells.com.
There you have it. Another year in the books. Another year of exciting challenges ahead. On behalf of the Boss team, I want to personally thank everyone for believing in our brand, our mission and our products. We couldn’t be in a better spot for continued growth and success if it weren’t for the chance you took on us. Thank you. It’s time for me to get back to work….. 
Brandon Cerecke
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