Chairman & CEO
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Fred Wagenhals, Chairman and CEO of AMMO Inc., offers these three keys to entrepreneurial success.
Hire key people: “I am fortunate enough to be at the top of the action and smart enough to hire the best people who made it happen.”
Never quit: “Success is not a one-shot opportunity. There is always another chance.”
Never let anyone outwork you: “Work as hard as you must and then some.”
AMMO was founded in 2016 by Wagenhals and his business partner Chris Larson with a vision to innovate and change the munitions industry for the next generation of shooters. The company produces products for law enforcement, military, sport shooting and self-defense.
Since its founding, AMMO has acquired GunBroker. com for $240 million. The website matches buyers and sellers focused on ammunition, firearms, accessories and the outdoors market. AMMO has grown from one of about 100 companies worldwide manufacturing ammunition to one of the top five such companies in the United States. Revenue continues to grow, with projections at $350 million in 2023, $500 million in 2024 and $1 billion by 2025. The growth plan includes more acquisitions and hiring key people.
Wagenhals arrives at the company’s Scottsdale headquarters at 5:30 a.m. and meets with employees every day, from the CFO to the maintenance professional. He caters lunch for his team four days a week and urges his team to leave at noon on Fridays. “Employees are assets that hold more value than money,” he said.
Wagenhals has received numerous recognitions and awards over the years. He was named professor of the year for his sports entrepreneurship course at the University of Arizona. He was inducted into the Die-Cast Hall of Fame in 2010. Wagenhals previously ran a business called Action Performance Companies, which became one of the largest toy makers in the United States. He eventually sold the company for $245 million.
Wagenhals is passionate about mentoring young people to become future entrepreneurs. During a 15-week course he taught at the University of Arizona, he shared with his students the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur and how he persevered. “It was his hope that the students would have a better understanding of the hard work it takes to make it as a young entrepreneur, that it is not a 9 to 5 job, they would have to work holidays and weekends, and there are many sacrifices each would have to make going forward,” his team said. “Wagenhals shared with his students that there was no instant success.”
Wagenhals had established his reputation as an innovator with the various inventions designed, built, and patented by the age of 21. Those inventions included a two-man, jet-pumped boat design used in jet ski watercrafts; 1:3-scale, gas-powered mini-cars used in various television shows and films; a computerized motor that powered the mechanical bulls popularized by the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, the four-wheeled quad-cycle; and the NASCAR die-cast miniature collectible cars, to name a few.