No doubt you’ve heard the saying “when one door closes, another one opens.”
A Sioux Falls man found that out firsthand after losing his job as a pharmacist a few years ago. He turned what he called his hobby into a multi-million dollar business.
A lot of hunters these days are putting silencers on their guns.
“You can make it quieter, reduce recoil, help your accuracy and protect your ears and give you an advantage while hunting,” Brandon Maddox, owner of Dakota Silencer, said.
Maddox, who was once a full time pharmacist, has always loved to hunt.
When he moved here from Florida, another avid hunter convinced him to buy a silencer for his rifle. He was so impressed with it, he decided to start a small business on the side, called Dakota Silencer.
“Sort of a hobby job, something fun to do on the weekends,” Maddox said.
Maddox would travel to area gun shows across the state selling his silencers. Only when his pharmacy company learned of his second job, they told him it was time to part ways.
So, Maddox decided to quietly grow Dakota Silencer into something much bigger.
“The thing with silencers, you can’t sell them to people, unless you actually have a physical location in the state where the customer lives,” Maddox said. “So at the Aberdeen gun show, a lot of customers were from North Dakota, it kind of felt like a missed opportunity.”
He began to set his sights on neighboring states. Now, Dakota Silencers is one of the largest dealers of suppressors in the country, with locations in seven states.
So far this year, he has $6 million in sales in just the first six months.
It helps when his manufacturer is also located in South Dakota. Mack Brothers in Sturgis produces 95% of all the silencers he sells.
“Everybody thinks they’re scary,” Mike Lawrence said.
Mike Lawrence has bought several silencers from Maddox. He uses them while hunting, mainly to protect his hearing.
“We can go out and we can be shooting and I could be talking to you just like this and there could be someone over here, four feet away shooting and we’d never raise our voice any louder than this,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence has several guns with silencers, including this .30 caliber semi-automatic.
There’s a big difference in noise; one Lawrence says benefits everyone.
“If I was this guy’s neighbor and I lived here and I liked to shoot, he’d love me for having them,” Lawrence said.
Critics might wonder why anyone would need a silencer unless they were going to shoot someone without wanting to anyone hearing the gun go off.
“There’s nobody who’s going to go through the extensive paperwork to get one of these just to commit a crime,” Lawrence said.
There is a lot of paperwork to fill out, mandated by the federal government.
Maddox says there are some similarities between selling silencers and selling prescriptions drugs as he used to do.
“A lot of it’s detailed oriented, right product, right patient, right doctor, right pills, right bottle,” Maddox said.
All those details, Maddox says, turned out to be the right prescription for a successful business in selling silencers, too.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be done correctly and the paperwork to buy them is somewhat cumbersome, kind of the same idea, how do you streamline it, make it easier, so you bring that level of detail, but make sure it’s done correctly and you find a way to scale it up,” Maddox said.
Maddox is still licensed to practice pharmacy in three states, including South Dakota. Only now, he aims to please an entirely different clientele.
“It seems like almost everyone we sell to, they end up wanting another one and they will tell two friends,” Maddox said.
That he has a hard time keeping quiet.