The Powder Keg started serving customers in 1975.  Some things have not changed, like our focus on superior customer service.  Many businesses have come and gone; TIME is the corrector of businesses that are not able to adapt to market changes.  We believe less in the survival of the strongest but more in the need to adapt to market changes.

2 years ago we recognised that businesses that focused on marketing only were falling off the bus because the world of marketing had become noisy. Advertising prices increasing and conversion rates falling. We recognised that social media was not what it used to be, the space had gotten “crowdy”.

In searching supply partnerships we considered companies with a strategy in ” its all about the product” and manufacturers that practised continuous product improvement.  We were not interested in the delusional marketing bullshit of lifetime guarantees because the quickest way to go out of business is to be trapped in returning product overseas for repairs (unhappy customers and administrative burdens).

The correlation we found is that manufacturers of gear that focused on having the best product value had been around for many years.  Proof again that TIME is the ultimate corrector of the market place.  These companies differentiation was in their product and not in their marketing.

We questioned companies about their differentiation.  We wanted to ensure that we represented gear that was different in reality and not in perception.  People say that perception is reality, maybe for 2 years but certainly not for a longer period of time.  It has always been about making good product better.

The Powder Keg represents exclusive lines for wholesale and here are the reasons why. In any product there is normally 1 competitor controlling the line share of the market; all others fight it out for the scraps.  In this framework competition is for losers. At The Powder Keg we will not be in the noise (competition), rather we must and will be different in product value and service.

Another subtle difference at The Powder Keg, we focus on value over fame.  The gear we choose must deliver the highest value in terms of price-to-performance.  We are not chasing short term marketing hype but long term success which requires word of mouth testimonials.  We could not rely on word of mouth at the beginning but it is fast becoming our best friend.

We focus on specific brands and not a multi brand strategy.  Suppliers and The Powder Keg committed to mutual exclusivity AFTER each party had satisfied themselves about the others ability to deliver on needs.  Primarily suppliers needed to know that The Powder Keg was customer eccentric and we needed to know that their product was best in class.

We biased to focus vs. diversification. Often businesses motivate diversification in order to spread their risk but more often it is because they do not know what works for them and feel a need to try everything. This is the reason we spent years upfront choosing a product portfolio and being prepared to hold until the brand we wanted became available.  We able to ignore stuff that does not fit our strategy.

Did we make all the right decisions? Hell no but we able to adapt when needed because we never take positions.  We learnt how to say NO (saying yes is easy – jabroer).  Where do we need to improve?  We need systematised processes that are machined and machined again. For reliability we need to remove human interventions.  We need to improve our metrics and tracking systems.  We no longer operate in the cowboy era!


More than ever before the hunting industry needs ambassadors.  Social media is like a hyperactive grapevine; it requires good communication skills and self reflection to portray our industry in the positive light that it deserves.  It is less about what we do and more about what we are seen to be doing.

I support legal, ethical and responsible hunting.  I understand the contribution that hunting makes to conservation. The commercial value of hunting is a big reason that many animal species have thrived vs. becoming extinct.  

Some time back I wrote about why The Powder Keg avoids publishing pictures of shot animals.  The anti hunting groups feed off pictures of hunters posing with shot animals; especially with trophy animals. If you do not believe this then post a picture of yourself next to a trophy animal and add your contact details. See the intrusion in your and your families lives.

Unfortunately even within us hunters we get a few who destroy the good work and reputation of hunters.  I will never support those few who bring our industry into disrepute.  This extends from the field (hunting) and into the business of shooting gear.  Even at The Powder Keg we come into contact with the odd “bullshitter” from time to time who does not embrace the ethos and goodwill shared by the vast majority of hunters and sport shooters.

This weeks “bullshitters award” (substantiates The Powder Keg decision to stop the storage of firearms and the selling of 2nd hand firearms) – we received a communication about a .22 BRNO that was stored at The Powder Keg in December 2003.  After us trying to locate the owner of the rifle between 2016 and 2018 it was eventually passed to a dealer who trades in 2nd hand guns.

Emails from the “claimed owner” (different person to the original owner details in our register) were in extreme bad taste and threatening. Our responses to the “claimed owner”  were measured and respectful. We do not know any other way of doing business.  Normal people understand that it is not normal to store a firearm at a dealer for 15 years without compensation and without making contact.  Below is an award more fitting such an “ass-hole”.

Such incidents result in strategic restructuring of The Powder Keg.  We do not need to interact with such people given that we are doing everything in our power, ability, and in the utmost good faith to further the good of hunting and gun ownership; and to deliver the highest value price-to-performance gear.

On the positive side, my association with The Powder Keg has yielded great friendships and new experiences. Last week I had the privilege to show Slovenia to a gun lover and a true ambassador of hunting and shooting.  This person is now the proud owner of an Ales Spendal masterpiece, a double gun in 9.3x74R.

Eveyone gets the gist when you say “I am gatvol”.  There are times when we use the word “gatvol” to describe our irritation of “kak praat”. Below is a culmination of my irritation of media “kak praat” that got me using Afrikaans slang extensively even after living in Europe for 12 years.

Risk and passion are closely linked; in my opinion you cannot have either without the other.  When I entered the business of selling shooting gear I did so because of a passion, and I knew with that passion I was engaging in an arena of misinformation and division.

The Powder Keg

I am talking about anti-gun groups and animal rights activists who are either absolutely ignorant or simply unwilling to listen to or to recognize another points of view. Media exacerbates the divide between lawful and responsible gun owners and those claiming for a total ban of guns; or between ethical and responsible hunters and those claiming a total ban on hunting.

When you listen to debates in the US around gun control it is clear that everyone has taken a position. When people take positions, on both sides of the argument, their egos get embedded in those positions and it becomes impossible to make real change.  Divisions have gone beyond compromise. Hopefully proven wrong below with the upcoming summit.

I personally feel no threat from anti gun groups or so called animal rights activists, probably because of my responsible behavior with guns and my love for animals and my charitable work in the management of game.  Allow me to briefly jump into a comparison I recognized in corporate business that may explain why …

Managers not respectful of their subordinates were literally “kak bang” of their bosses.  I had immense respect for everyone in my team irrespective of their role and I had zero fear of leaders higher up in the organization.  I think that this same behavioral phenomena plays out in my passion for guns and hunting; my love for animals and guns has created a self confidence about doing the right thing that I am not intimidated by “kak praat“.

I have learnt to talk with data.  Most of the “anti” sentiment is without facts where their emotions are moved quicker than their intelligence. A friend shared a post on Facebook in which a hunter posed next to a bear in the snow and the heading was “cowardly hunter poses next to the bear he shot in hibernation”. “Strond”.

There are instances where hunting of bears is appropriate and instances where it is not appropriate. In this instance I was “die moerin” by such purposeful misrepresentation of the facts. In extreme cold conditions bears will go into a cave and sleep.  No-one enters a cave where a bear is laying up.  The most bears that I have seen were in the middle of winter and very active. It was later proven that this bear was shot in the spring of 2014.

Another friend shares misinformed social media posts about anti-hunting. Try to capture his inconsistency; he shared a post by PETA / News24 in which the entire mohair industry was placed in disrepute as a result of isolated findings with his message “what the heck is going on. Sabotage this industry and a lot of people in the Karoo are going to be out of a job”.

“Gatvol”.  I responded “similarly ethical and responsible hunting has been sabotaged by these same groups for over a decade. Like in this report on Angora goat cruelty the facts about ethical and responsible hunting have been purposefully distorted in social media …. “.

“Seriously gatvol”. I started a business in Europe which is based on mohair products.  I am again faced with willful misinformation for some ulterior motive. Real people with good intentions focus on solutions and work constructively to a solution while those looking to further personal and selfish agendas seek every means to reap havoc. “Gaan K”.

I learnt the meaning of “vasbyt” in the shooting industry. I carry this grit over into our mohair business in Europe. It is normal to be “gatvol” for some moments about all the “kak praat” but how I miss the days of solving stuff with a “snotklap”. What matters is that we stay on the right barrel and true to our values.


What did we learn from Huntex 2017? Successful businesses reflect and adjust their strategy. We listened to what the majority of Huntex visitor expectations were.  More than 95% of customer feedback was around the expectation to buy product at discounts; or more specifically referred to as “Huntex Specials”.

The purpose of The Powder Keg at Huntex in 2017 was to expose the value of products that we represent exclusively in South Africa and to enlist dealer interest from around South Africa.

It can be concluded from our customer surveys that we were not aligned at Huntex 2017 with customer expectations. We have therefore decided to rather support dealer sales of our products at Huntex 2018 instead of ourselves promoting brands only.

At The Powder Keg we take every precaution to support our dealers and foster trust between the dealer and us. Product specials to customers (like at Huntex) must be made through our dealers, or as a minimum in full disclosure giving dealers equal opportunities to promote.

Huntex is primarily a forum for customers to shop and we respect that. Huntex is about exhibitor discounting. We have listened and adjusted. Our intentions of promoting brand value and not selling is an approach more suited to dealer trade shows than Huntex.

The Powder Keg is synonymous with “customers for life”.  We did not sell gear at Huntex 2017 because we believed that buy decisions must be made in the appropriate environment, a place where product features and benefits can be demonstrated.  For instance, we avoided selling Huglu shotguns at Huntex because in our opinion customers could not choose wisely between the different models in the hustle and bustle of full aisles.

There may be occasions where customers know exactly what they want and they visit Huntex to purchase the item from whoever gives the largest discount.  In this instance we prefer to sell through a retail network because we understand channels to market and we value our business partners.

We found most Huntex purchases to be impulse purchases, based on perceived value of discounts offered. In order for us to be true to “customers for life” we put the real interest of customers first.  This is the reason why at Huntex 2017 we encouraged buyers to first compare gear and then to visit The Powder Keg in order to make informed buy decisions.

An incident at Huntex 2017 that puts all of the above in perspective – “I am buying my first gun; what is your price on a 300 H&H Mauser M12?”  After 3 minutes of discussion it was obvious that this person was being offered a discount by an exhibitor selling his slow moving inventory.  We encouraged him to visit The Powder Keg in order to have a better chance of making an informed decision on his first firearm purchase.

The Powder Keg is different from others; we focused on lifestyle and not the selling of products. Everything we do is about giving customers a life long journey of enjoyment.  It is not about how much we can sell but how we can get our customers enjoy their outdoors more.



Another year has come and gone and we are left to ponder “did we grow the business or did we just exist”?  Human selfreflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence. Without this capacity we are beast?

I am skeptical of businesses that do not have the ability of self reflection. At The Powder Keg we do. In people it is easier to recognize because they know it all and have done it all before, but in business it takes real leadership to have self reflection. Normally those that contribute the least have the most to say.

On numerous occasions we have been asked who the owners of The Powder Keg are.  Let the truth be known, customers are the owners of The Powder Keg because without customers there is no business. Paul Luff and I pictured with one such owner of the business since 1976.

Our successes in 2017 were focused around brand development of products that we represent in South Africa. The South African market is strongly influenced by American gear whereas my living in Europe has changed my perspective of value. Broadly speaking, Americans have the gift of marketing and Europeans the gift of product quality. Huntex was a successful branding event for The Powder Keg in 2017.

In Europe many successful businesses started out by producing a product in an area of their engineering passion, and over the years became successful because of product quality and innovation. In America wealth is created quicker but it can be less sustainable. We are biased to European shooting gear except for reloading equipment and components where the sheer size of the USA market drove big investments in reloading.

I live continuous improvement, it is in my blood.  This time last year I reflected and adjusted because it was my belief that I was pushing The Powder Keg too fast.  I was living “legacy is a 1 day problem”.  I then communicated to the team that 2017 was about “better today than yesterday” and not necessarily about being the best.

Now we are left to reflect on 2017 and adjust for 2018. There was significant transformation at The Powder Keg but I see a year that we existed. We achieved a lot, but I have high expectations. Champions have the ability to forget their achievements and set up new goals all the time. 

We will ensure that The Powder Keg achieves greater heights irrespective of the economy. In corporate you get “sand-bagging of targets” and the excuses like “we did not grow because the market did not grow”. Bullshit to all of that.  Leadership is a fine balance between driving urgency which inspires people and panic which has teams freezing up and delivering even less.

The SA economy is down but we must deal with it. There are many businesses that rest on their laurels and cannot change with the times. The Powder Keg will grow by taking market share in ways that deliver more customer value. 

The opportunity to the industry is that “the market is not the market”.  Only a small segment of the population participate in shooting of one form or another; we must promote shooting to all South Africans. Look at how the auto industry performed over the past 15 years vs. the shooting and hunting segments.

The Powder Keg represents a few “gems of products” and 2018 will be about taking these products to every corner of the country.  We chose carefully those products that were the highest value-price-to-performance shooting gear. We also looked at the people driving these organizations; they determine tomorrow. 

In comes Kirsten Knox, a new member of the team who brings leadership and discipline. Discipline is not only about being on time but includes many aspects of life and business such ensuring words and actions are consistent and staying focused on the golden thread.  Kirsten often brings us back to much needed FOCUS.

I have been part of successful teams. My successes were always as a result of others contributions.  Be weary of managers who keep telling you what they have achieved, or when there is a problem they blame others. Kirsten will help The Powder Keg build winning teams, he recognizes others contributions. Shaun (above) has blossomed into a star that we are proud of!

The Powder Keg is all about LIFESTYLE. In 2018 we will invest further in lifestyle abroad such as family safaris and tourism. The Powder Keg will build on its participation in a 10 year hunting concession in Slovenia, and tourism property that is well located and unique.

An area that The Powder Keg focuses a lot on is its communication. More and more customers will be interacting with The Powder Keg via email and over the phone. Their judgement of our professionalism will mainly come down to how we communicate and follow-up.

No-one knows the value of communication more than myself; living 12 years in Slovenia and so pathetic that I don’t speak the language, meaning I have honed other skills to help me connect, especially in hunting which is the only forum I have encountered where not everyone speaks English.

With passion and from the heart The Powder Keg wishes everyone who reads this message a great Christmas and the best for the new year. Don’t rely on luck only, take charge of 2018.   


I start this BLOG with the penguin lesson,  relevant in most real life situations and relevant to The Powder Keg initiatives of real change.

10% of the penguin colony are leaders searching new territory, 80% are undecided, while 10% are blockers refusing change. The Powder Keg is seeking ambassadors in the 10% to focus on the undecided 80%, to pull them to the side of leading change, while ignoring the 10% blockers who require inordinate energy to change.

By communicating this message The Powder Keg may risk losing a page like or worse, a customer;  but that is acceptable if it means getting to the bigger issues that matter.  By focusing on the 80% who only need reassurance that change will improve their space we can increase the hunting and sporting shooting fraternity exponentially.

More and more our love for the hunt and the adrenaline of sport shooting is threatened by the anti-gun establishment and animals rights activists. If we do not react in a different way then we cannot expect a different outcome.  Doing nothing is 100% wrong.  We have a responsibility to protect our space in hunting and shooting and to nurture and grow interest among a larger group of people.

There are thousands of hunters and sport shooters that know this industry better than we do; all we ask is that of the 10 concepts we introduce, search those 2 that might be game changers and don’t focus on the 8 that may be stupid because we know less than you do.

There are numerous articles defending our rights and communicating facts around the contribution that ethical hunting makes to conservation. But the needle has not moved, we slowly losing ground.  Educating and reversing the ignorance of anti gun and anti hunting groups is impossible without increasing our numbers and gaining support for hunting and sport shooting from the entire demographics of our population.

Social media is an ideal platform for false coverage of guns, hunting and sport shooting.  Extremism and a few individual lunatic gun shootings further push sentiment against legal gun ownership. We have to do things differently, with purpose and with heart.  We need new ambassadors.

This BLOG is focused on encouraging more people of all races to get involved in ethical and responsible hunting; and sport shooting.  The traditional group of hunters and sport shooters are a white male dominated group. In countries like the USA and SA we tend to associate certain communities possession of guns with violence. We must be united with proper initiatives to halt and reverse the growing anti-gun sentiment.

Dr Danie Craven took rugby to Argentina and today they are capable of beating traditionally recognized teams. Mandela wore a Springbok rugby jersey because he understood the power of sport to unite. Look at the increased black talent in cricket and rugby which were traditionally white sports.

I recently went to the West Rand shooting range near The Powder Keg.  Every shooter was white and the range officer a black gentleman. It was a privilege to witness the comradery and the adherence to instructions from the Range Officer proving many different values within the shooting community and between races.  It is time to think out of the box.  To behave differently. To be proactive. 

At The Powder Keg we have approached national shooting institutions to work together on development programs, but progress has been pedestrian. We identified a talented and aspiring black trap shooter to sponsor with a shotgun but we were unable to conclude with his employer. Time out.

Our suppliers are supporting The Powder Keg initiatives to promote responsible hunting and sport shooting among all South Africans.  Our actions will be consistent with our words.

I have enjoyed many days in the bush with Manne Dipico and Anthony Rooiland. We we were continuously  entertained by Manne with his incredible sense of humor and humility. Anthony is a great shot while Manne was a man of two extremes, the best dressed hunter our group ever seen but also the worst shot. Manne simply loved to be in the outdoors with hunters even though he preferred not to shoot. We need such ambassadors.

The future of ethical hunting and sport shooting relies on attracting more responsible hunters and sport shooters into our world. Nothing more and nothing less. The gun industry in South Africa will die a slow and painful death if we are not bold and urgent in encouraging more black shooters to participate. Our industry feels the pain of the recession more than any other; have you ever asked yourself why? 


In a recent post (hunting wild boar in Croatia) I expressed an opinion on the need to encourage more woman folk to participate in what for many years has been a male dominated sport. I appreciate the feedback in whatever form or content, and decided best to respond in a Blog under the category of “leadership and philosophy”.

I have strong opinions, in the corporate world I would tell my teams “my opinion vs. your opinion, I win. Your facts vs. my opinion, you win”. I respect others points of view but I must be convinced with facts. I have no personal ego for my position and will change when others have a better way forward.

I have received no creditable feedback that changes The Powder Keg commitment to encouraging woman in shooting. 

Ego, another leadership pitfall where woman mostly fare better than us men.  Ego is a big downfall in becoming an exceptional leader because ego gets people to take positions, the deeper the argument the more entrenched positions become. People with strong egos typically keep digging their hole deeper. Maybe Trump has a bigger ego than rocket man.

I learnt hard lessons after moving to Europe; I was too quick to judge. You must live in a country to understand WHY before opening your mug. For instance, I was extremely critical of the fact that woman had 12 months of maternity leave and companies had to protect their positions during this absence.  I came to Europe with a tunnel vision of my perspective of how things should be; just as I was ignorant about custom guns.

In managing the European business I found that woman have extreme competence in business, dare I say more than many men folk. Finding competent workers is a big challenge that leaders have; for me to protect the positions of competent woman during their maternity leave was worth every cent.

I am reminded of the penguin story; 10% of penguins look for a better place, 80% wait to see which way to go, and 10% are blockers.  For hunting and sport shooting to gain a better image we should focus on the 80% and get them to our side. Forget the 10% blockers. Woman will be influential in that 80%.

In Slovenia on average 99% of woman work, it has been like that for generations. The system nurtured that outcome. Woman never compromise their independence. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction; in my opinion the men are no-longer “manne” and that is not a positive trend either. Fewer and fewer younger people are joining the hunting families (in Slovenia); they were too slow to involve woman and now the woman have got them by the “balls” and the woman are not interested in shooting.  Too late. 

A reason that I quickly came to recognize the strength of woman in Slovenia was due to a precondition that all my direct reports had to be stronger in their functional roles than I was. Many woman fulfilled that criteria. Good leaders have a high level of self-confidence; with self confidence they surround themselves with strong teams.

In Austria in recent years a greater number of woman are enrolled in the hunting system than men. Woman folk want to enjoy the outdoors too. Ask professional hunters here and they will tell you that woman quickly become competent marks-woman because they do not have that testosterone and ego which can be a handicap in precision shooting.

Unlike all other sports where testosterone gives men the advantage; in shooting it can be the opposite. Off-course this is not relevant in every shooting discipline; like when shooting guns with heavy recoil, strength does count.

Nations that enjoy the greatest woman rights, in my opinion, will have the greatest advancement.  Children spend most of their childhood with mothers.  Characters are mostly formed as children. Minds are the most absorbing when young. Spending those early years with a respected and competent mother count a lot; hence I question the advancement of those nations that depress woman’s rights and rely on oil reserves only.

Maybe I am an Alpha male and that is what allows me to empower woman and still know that I am in charge:) Oysters not needed but they are good.

One of my leadership philosophies has been “2 balls in the hand vs. 20 in the air”; probably because I am an Alpha male I am limited to doing one thing at a time. I have observed that woman (and Omega men) have a better ability to multi task.  I am not suggesting that is better, simply an observation.

We shoot better when our actions are subconscious; in the conscious state we are deliberate, slower and clumsy. Maybe our testosterone might keep us men away from the subconscious state more than woman,  meaning that we need more practice (repetition) to be in that ideal state of precision shooting.

Congratulations Lauren Parsons for your silver medal in the ladies division of the Field Target World Championships held in Wales!  We pleased to read your reliance on Kahles optics in your achievement.



There have been observations and some criticism that The Powder Keg does not publish pictures of shot animals on its Facebook page. There is no easy answer but we have chosen to limit pictures of shot animals for a few reasons.

It is partly about trying to understand today’s connection with people.  For example, although the anti-hunting establishment are dangerously uninformed about hunting we seek ways of positively influencing them vs. giving them material to put at risk our passion for the outdoors and hunting.

The anonymity of social media gives the opportunity to publish widely misleading information without consequences. But we (the hunting fraternity) also “shoot ourselves in the foot” from time to time by posting unsavory hunting scenes and videos which do us harm.

Paul Luff and I are proud hunters and every animal we shoot is shot in a legal and ethical manner. We know the contribution that hunting makes to conservation.  By not publishing pictures of shot animals we are not “sitting on the fence” … and here is WHY.

The Powder Keg is not focused on hunting alone, and we are not focused only on selling products and services; we are passionate about selling an experience, a purpose and a lifestyle.

We are passionate around getting more people of all sexes and all races involved in hunting and sport shooting.  We are passionate about responsible and ethical hunting practices. We are passionate about changing the negative image around guns. We do not expect overnight success. 

Money is not our key driver; we believe that relationships are our real capital; we are focused on fostering relationships that will bring new hunters and new sport shooters into this great space.

There are reasons in favor of publishing pictures with legally and ethically hunted animals, “fishing where the fish are”. With every decision there are compromises. Twenty – 30 years ago we were encouraged to get “dirty and rough” in rugby scrums and now with cameras you a scorned upon for being sent off.  We have to change with the times, sometimes whether we like it or not. The business we are building is wider than hunting alone.

I have hunted in different countries and in all they have their own culture around hunting. Keyboard “bashers” have no right to impose their cultures on others provided hunting is conducted in a legal and ethical manner – BUT THEY DO! In every country I have hunted in their are rules, regulations and laws around the management of game.



The clarity of our mission, vision and strategies; and our principles of transparency, fairness and consistency make it easy to explain our pricing strategy. And we are proud to share this. Even though we operate in a retail space we limit specials in favor of consistent and fair pricing. Creating trust is an important element of our team.

We do have product promotions where we aim to increase product exposure. Promotional awareness is communicated on Facebook and via email to our data base. Our distributors are informed in advance and they are encouraged to participate in promotions.

There are instances where we decide to discontinue a product line or product brand and offer prices to clear the goods. We do not expect many clearance sales because we test products thoroughly in advance and we stay with the golden thread of our strategy. We do however make mistakes, what matters is less the mistakes vs. how quickly we get back on the mountain.

In some cases we change our strategy like we did for our 2 brand strategy in clothing; we will no-longer carry an entry level local brand because this space is too crowded. Our resources are better spent elsewhere, hence our current pricing to clear clothing and focus on Chevalier. Clothing takes space, we do not have a space issue, but space must anyway be used effectively. Normal clothing can be purchased in most shops. We focus our attention on a premium quality and style of clothing from Chevalier that is not otherwise available.

Pricing of our imported products are adjusted when the Rand moves +-5% from the last adjustment in order to have pricing relevant and current to global pricing. For example, our optics cost the same in SA as in any other foreign country. The days are over where every country had its own pricing level, internet has created a global trading village. Rand weakness & volatility of 2016 was costly, but like Kahles optics we in business for the long term.

Huntex Gallagher Estate was an example of our discipline to keep to our business principles. Everyone around us was discounting products, we even had a first time gun buyer say that he was advised by a dealer to rather buy a 300 H&H vs. his choice of a 30-06.  We focus on value and life-long customers vs. short term dumping of excess products. The success of our pricing strategy reflects in a 40 year legacy, we in business for the long term.

When customers ask there are normally more with the same thoughts and questions. In this blog I will address why The Powder Keg stopped selling and trading in old firearms when others have started to do this as a new initiative.

When we bought The Powder Keg from the estate of the late Dr Lucas Potgieter there were approximately 500 second hand firearms in the safe. I best describe the situation as fog; a distraction to running a disciplined business with proper controls and clarity of vision.

Every business operates under different circumstances; good strategy in one business is often bad strategy in another. Also, good strategy is normally a differentiated approach; a copy strategy is normally not good strategy.

When fixing a business, do it quick. The number of second hand firearms on our premises was a cancer that could not be cured in a reasonable time frame given the licence procedures in SA. Our business needed surgery.  We boxed 2 crates of our old pistols and after 6 months of trying to have these destroyed we gave them to another dealer with a different strategy.


Similarly we got rid of our second hand rifles with little or no value and asked customers to collect their storage firearms. The storage of firearms is a good business if that is your main focus and if you have a warehouse for storage. We needed to focus elsewhere.

The average value of the 500 firearms approximated R1,000 each. At best we could realize an average margin of R250 per firearm.  Consider the effort to sell, complete license applications, control stock and the cost of insurance while compromising stock control and the opportunity cost of not doing what matters. Waste, we had to cut fast and deep.

A lesson I learnt from Carlyle Private Equity in the financial crisis of 2007- 2009, cut deep and then cut again, better to make corrections later than not being around to have that chance. My biggest frustration in the firearms industry is that you cannot make legacy issues a 1 day problem; you simply cannot get rid of an accumulation of unwanted firearms quickly.

In every decision you have benefit and compromise. Employees who were part of The Powder Keg for many years could not understand why we refused to compromise on keeping second hand firearms.  To get rid of the second firearms we needed decisive action, no grey areas,  even though in some instances (viewed in isolation) this was a lost profit. We had to be clear and decisive on our goals and time to implement.

In China there is a no drink and drive policy (ZERO). No grey area. A limit allows for subjective evaluation i.e. “I should be fine with one more”. The same rule for new drivers in many European countries; kids in these countries will not risk losing their license; there is nothing not to understand about a ZERO allowance rule.

Similarly, when the production director of a manufacturing plant in our business needed to reduce the cost of overtime worked he banned overtime and stomached the impact of those instances where there was a cost to production shortages. At The Powder Keg we implemented lessons learnt from our past.


To be a good leader you must be courageous. At The Powder Keg we have clear strategy and we focused on that golden thread. Selling second hand firearms might be a future strategy at The Powder Keg but not until we are perfect and successful in other more important matters.

Doc Lucas was in the business for 40 years, he sold second hand guns and he stored everyone’s firearms, why would we now consider this bad strategy? New eyes are important in all businesses. If you throw a frog into hot water he will jump out. If you place a frog in cold water and slowly heat the water the frog will cook to death because the slow temperature increase is not recognized as an event to act upon.

A police inspection that took 5 hours is now possible in 30 minutes.  As we continue to implement lean principles at The Powder Keg we should get a police inspection down to 15 minutes – our next goal.