Brownells believe strongly in the NRA's mission.Throughout its history, Brownells has been a staunch supporter of our men and women in uniform. Today, the company continues that tradition as the presenting sponsor of the NRA Life of Duty program.
Deep in America’s heartland, there’s a thriving business with small-town roots stretching back over three generations. Guns, guts and love of liberty built this business into something special as Brownells expanded into a shooting and firearm supply store extraordinaire. Today, the firm supplies the worldwide needs of all aspects of the gun industry, including police, military and emergency responders. And, remained a rock solid pro-Second Amendment mainstay, a solid cornerstone in a part of the world where corn may actually grown as high as an elephant’s eye, and people continue to lead the lives our Founding Fathers envisioned.
Charting a progressive course for this Montezuma, Iowa, business is Pete Brownell, 42, family man and father of three children ages 6, 9 and 11. The energetic Midwesterner became the third Brownell to run the business when he assumed day-to-day operations from his father Frank, 72, a former Navy man who remains chairman of the board. Pete’s a hunter, enthusiastic shooter and fierce defender of the Second Amendment, both in conscience and through his duties as a member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors.
Brownells often rub shoulders with members of the military and law enforcement at Big Springs Shooting Complex.
Brownells began as the vision of Pete’s grandfather, Bob Brownell, who decided in 1932 that the art of gunsmithing needed a little less time under the rural shade tree and a lot more professional identity. A writer as well as a competent firearm mechanic, the original Brownell put all his energies and talent into a business promoting the supply side of quality parts and tools originating from under a single roof. At the same time he continued to innovate, developing new products like the original home bluing kit, special wrenches, and even gunsmithing encyclopedias allowing hobbyists to do more quality work, learn faster and maybe even turn pro someday.
In time, Brownells became the focal point for the firearm parts, tools and service trade, and that original Brownell vision became reality. In a way, the former horse cavalryman who signed up to swing a saber at 16 changed the world of gunsmithing, growing his business into a household word among those seeking to better understand the intricate working world of fine firearms.
his grandfather established a solid business philosophy.
Pete Brownell says his grandfather established a solid business philosophy when he simply did his part by following his heart. Nor did his grandfather ever forget those World War I veterans who were among his first customers. Therefore, when the NRA made a decision to reach out to the men and women who preserve the peace and protect our way of life, it just seemed natural that Pete Brownell would be offered a chance to play a vital role.
Plans called for a new program: NRA Life of Duty. Among the benefits to police and military would be exclusive membership, multimedia communications, and opportunities to preview and purchase the latest high-tech gear.
The program would hinge on corporate sponsorship, and Brownells was an obvious choice. When Pete learned the program would benefit American men and women in uniform, he didn’t waste any time or breath. “We’re all in,” he said. As Pete points out, the Brownells business model is based on three words: selection, service and satisfaction. And for more than 70 years, much of the service has focused on Americans in uniform. It’s always been a Brownells tradition to offer the best in tools, firearm parts and equipment for professionals ranging from SWAT to SEAL to forensics to K-9, from explosive ordinance disposal to fire and rescue.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to support law enforcement and the military for over seven decades,” Pete points out. “Involving Brownells with the NRA Life of Duty program just seemed natural, a way to say thank you to all the outstanding individuals who put their lives on the line for us every day of the year.
Tammy Johnson and Harriett Gott work in the fulfillment department, ensuring orders are complete.
Brownells president Pete Brownell and his father Frank.
“Brownells has strived over the years to make sure that police and military have access to the latest quality equipment, all the gear that allows them to do a better job,” Brownell added. “Serving these men and women through a sponsorship role just seemed an extension of what we’ve always sought to be, and who we are today.”
For Pete, NRA Life of Duty plays a “supporting role in providing tangible benefits to people who risk their lives to support us.” Brownells is the presenting sponsor of NRALifeofDuty.TV, and Brownells LE Division, PoliceStore.com, sponsors the Gear Channel on the NRA Life of Duty Network.
"actually, it has been an honor for us to become a title sponsor."
Pete admits he’s always felt passionate about what America stands for. This passion has helped him play a key role as an NRA Board member, and figured strongly into Brownells steady climb to its position as an industry leader.
“We’ve watched with enthusiasm all the industry-wide growth, and feel that we’ve played a part in helping the entire industry grow,” Pete said. “It’s been a gratifying experience, considering how much the firearms industry does to support the overall security of this nation, and also our individual freedoms as citizens of the United States.”
Pete Brownell is equally proud to serve in a leadership role within the NRA. “I’m enthusiastic about the National Rifle Association because it functions as a big, extended family, presenting millions of Americans with a way to stay focused on keeping this country headed in the right direction,” he said.
Pete acknowledges that the NRA Life of Duty program seemed from the start to be a perfect fit for his prestigious firearms firm.
It presented an opportunity that doesn’t come along too often,” he said. “Actually, it’s been an honor for us to become a title sponsor, NRA Life of Duty allows us to give something back to all the Americans who wear the uniforms and do the serious business of keeping the rest of us safe and free. Believe me, those of us at Brownells understand and take to heart what it means to have the rights our police and military protect and oftentimes give their lives for. Our involvement with NRA Life of Duty has been a great marriage, one we’re proud of, and one that’s allowed the American people to hear the news and be moved by stories that rarely get told.”
Pete and his family live in Grinnell, a town of around 10,000 east of Des Moines in central Iowa. The spick-and-span community likes to refer to itself as the “jewel of the prairie” and is home to Grinnell College, an excellent Midwestern liberal arts school. Brownell likes to point out that the college hasn’t always been a bastion of pro-gun sentiment, and this omission of pro-gun common sense presented Pete with an obvious hometown problem to rectify.
“We started by opening up a dialogue,” Brownell said. “It wasn’t that the folks on the faculty really hated guns, it’s just that they didn’t know anything about them.”
So Pete volunteered to lecture on Second Amendment issues and, in time, managed to start a shooting club on campus. Then, when several of the professors expressed a desire to help with wildlife habitat enhancement on Brownell land bordering the company shooting range, the CEO sensed an opportunity to open even more philosophical doors. When the educators finished with the hands-on work involving plants, seed and soil, Pete introduced them to the shooting range.
For most it was a first. And, as is generally the case, the majority of the faculty left Brownell’s property giddy with excitement over having actually fired a real handgun. Today these same educators are regulars at the range. The newly committed gun owners have been known to take their guns with them when they return to New York for civic events. The professors hate to miss out on even a few minutes of range time, and the previous anti-gun sentiment at the college has been offset by an open-mindedness that never would have exited without a little push from Pete.
Frank has now handed down day-to-day operations to his son.
But then the guns and the Second Amendment are a firm commitment for Pete Brownell. He understands that service represents a higher calling for those who wear the nation’s uniforms, both on the field of battle and at the corner of a busy downtown street.
He sees NRA Life of Duty as a seed, one that’s germinated and destined to grow into a focal point for telling all the stories describing what it means to walk that thin red, white and blue line.
“I can foresee the day when NRA Life of Duty is backed by page after page of corporate sponsorship,” Pete says. “I see it as an opportunity for all of us who’ve been successful in business to give back to those who’ve given so much of themselves. There is so much to be done, so many vital services that need and deserve better resources, so many individuals out there who put their lives on the line for America.
They have needs that can be met through the generosity of those who benefit from the American way of life they fight for and protect.”