Otis Technology was born from the practical inspiration and need to keep firearms in service, through outstanding cleaning solutions, not only at home but in the field. Creating innovative cleaning equipment that’s portable, functional and ideally suited to the needs of any hunter, target shooter or soldier’s most important gear has been the Otis hallmark since day one.
Founder Doreen Garrett’s mission, to rethink and redefine gun care, was born from experience in the field, and that is where Otis’ products continue to shine; firearms only have problems when they’re in use, after all. Thanks to cleaning solutions that are easily carried into the field, a problem doesn’t have to mean the end of the day.
Born and built in upstate New York, Otis Technology is proud to support the American military and routinely gives back to the communities and citizens who have helped them grow and who trust their products to keep their firearms in the best possible condition from season to season and from one generation to the next. Marketing Director Heather Pleskach has been sharing the Otis story for 12 years. Through that span, she’s seen the SHOT Show® innovate and expand, and that’s helped her company do the same.
Heather Pleskach (HP): My first SHOT Show was Orlando in 2009. That was actually the first trade show I ever attended, so I was a deer in headlights. So many people, so many booths and so many fantastic events. I hoped for a lull in booth traffic so I could step away and wander through the exhibit hall, but the traffic never let up.
Over the years, SHOT Show has settled in nicely at the Sands, and I commend NSSF for its willingness to listen to feedback and make improvements. This is most obvious in the NEXT exhibitor section, Supplier Showcase and Exhibitor Academy. We’ve made connections with exhibitors in NEXT, met new suppliers at the Showcase and learned helpful tips and tricks to plan a better event and improve return on investment at the Exhibitor Academy.
Kevin Tate (KT): Connections and innovations at SHOT Show go hand in hand for sure. What does SHOT Show mean to a well-established business like Otis?
HP: SHOT Show helps us reaffirm our relationships with our customers and industry partners. We can sit down and chat at the show or after hours to cement those relationships and develop action plans that are mutually beneficial. It affords us the opportunity to have one-on-one time with new customers we may not easily see otherwise. We have the opportunity to demonstrate our products and give customers and the media the opportunity to see our great gear firsthand. It puts all the manufacturers and industry partners in one room. We can collaborate on initiatives for the betterment of all parties, and it allows us time with industry media so they can help get the word out to consumers about new products. It really gives us positive momentum to kick the year off right.
KT: Tell me about your plans for the 2021 SHOT Show. I understand that you’re the show’s official hand-sanitizer sponsor.
HP: Of course, as we all know, the show and booths will be different this year. We’re modifying our booth layout for improved traffic flow and to support proper safety precautions. We’ve proudly partnered with the NSSF to supply hand sanitizer to attendees to help keep the event and its attendees and exhibitors safe. As always, we will be in the same location ready and eager to showcase our great products. We’ll also be attending Industry Day at the Range the Monday before the show opens.
KT: What do you look forward to most for the upcoming show?
HP: Without a doubt, it’ll be simply seeing people in person instead of over a web conference. I didn’t attend SHOT Show 2020, so I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with industry friends and partners and chatting with new and current customers, as well as talking to media folks about Otis, Shooter’s Choice and DRD Tactical.
KT: What’s your favorite SHOT Show-related memory?
HP: I don’t know about favorite, but I’d say one of the most memorable shows I’ve had was during a time when I was transitioning into a management role in marketing here at Otis. Our trade show coordinator had left the company, and I had picked up the slack in terms of managing the show planning until we’d hired her replacement. It was a big responsibility and, while I had always been involved in show planning, it was a lot on my shoulders with a lot of very small details to consider.
I headed out to the show the weekend prior to help our exhibit company set up. Somewhere along the line we had overlooked the fact the single-sided graphics printed for the top of our booth were visible on the interior of the booth, leaving the white backing visible. It didn’t give a polished look and was less than ideal. That’s when I learned that, as much as you plan in advance, hiccups will happen, and you need to stay calm and be nimble enough to work through a solution. Black fabric did the trick for us that year.
KT: Tell me about your company’s involvement with tactical and military shooters.
HP: Otis is a defense contractor, so we have several contracts with the military, and we have a law enforcement channel we sell to as well, so that’s where Otis is more well known, in the military realm. We’re a small company in upstate New York, and we’re proud our products are made in America and supply our troops tools that keep their firearms functioning when their lives depend on it. But our passion runs much deeper than that. We like to help out whenever and however we can, supporting different organizations that support the military and sending care packages to troops overseas. We also donate a portion of our law enforcement sales to organizations that help officers and their families.
KT: Part of your company’s founding platform is a commitment to not relying on old cleaning technologies just because they’re familiar. Tell me how your process works. How do you come up with new gun-cleaning mechanism ideas?
HP: We have an R&D team, a product development team that helps us innovate new and different ideas. A competitive advantage of ours is in listening to the voice of the customer. Our relationships to the military and the hunting and sporting channels help define problems they have, and then we’ll engineer a solution. That’s kind of how the Ripcord came about. There was a need for a pass-through cleaning solution for a weapon in a ready position, one that could be used while a weapon stayed in a ready position and that didn’t melt in the barrel.
KT: It’s been interesting to see the innovations Otis has pioneered through the years. What product launches or highlights do you have in mind for the 2021 SHOT Show?
HP: We’ll have new offerings in our DRD Tactical line, and our rifle lineup will definitely be a highlight and one you won’t want to miss.
Last October, Otis purchased DRD Tactical. That brand has five rifles known for their quick barrel change; you can do a quick barrel swap and go from 5.56 to .300 Blackout in less than a minute. The rifles are in a small, discrete case and you can go from box to build in under 60 seconds, and they offer the option to fire with the stock folded. They’re a pretty unique rifle and we’re proud of them. They were introduced at the 2020 SHOT Show, but they’re still very new, so we’re continuing to innovate and focus on those rifles.