Lone Wolf Distributors: How the parts powerhouse carved its own path
Lone Wolf Distributors has been a staple in the industry for two decades and is well-known among Glock gearheads. A go-to source for parts and accessories for a variety of gun models, the company supplies gun owners with a bevy of parts in a range of patterns, colors, and themes. It wasn’t always fancy slides and smooth triggers, though. The company sprang from humble beginnings, courtesy of a CEO determined to turn his experience and expertise into success.
Like any good origin story, LWD’s begins with one man — head honcho and CEO, J.R. Shepard. Shepard grew up a lover of guns. As a kid, he was an avid hunter, shooter, and reloader. As an adult, he continued the love affair with firearms, opening a small gun shop in the 1980s attached to his family’s welding shop in Rathdrum, Idaho. In the offseason, he busied himself as an elk hunting guide which eventually led to meeting Larry Jones. Jones made elk calls as well as videos of his calls in action. The two teamed up to create a cable access show called Sportsmen of the Northwest.
“We featured shooting sports of all kinds, pistol, rifle, MG’s and cannons, anything that would go bang! We would do some shows on hunting when possible and even stoop to fishing on occasion. Our motto was: We will go fishin’ when we’re out of ammunition,” Shepard told Guns.com. “The show was fun, we had a lot of fans, but it hardly paid the bills. I was out begging for sponsorship funds and product when I ran into an aftermarket Glock parts manufacture named AroTek out of Pacific, Washington.”
Little did Shepard know this would set him on the path to what would eventually become known as Lone Wolf Distributors. Looking for sponsors for the show, Shepard met with AroTek’s owner Morris Dagley. The two quickly became friends and soon Shepard was filling in for associates during vacation days. Unfortunately, a series of tragic events unfolded leaving AroTek struggling to make ends meet. It was at that time Shepard decided to break from AroTek and create a separate entity to sell AroTek parts.
“With [Dagley’s] blessing, customer list and a $15,000 LOC in parts, I stepped out on my own. I chose the name Lone Wolf Distributors because it could easily be associated with outdoors and camping equipment if we decided to expand our Glock parts offerings,” Shepard explained.
Opening its doors for business in 1998, LWD began selling aftermarket Glock parts made by AroTek in addition to a handful of OEM connectors. A couple months in and LWD’s accessory lineup was already growing, Although the company was successfully distributing aftermarket parts, it wasn’t enough to just sell. LWD wanted its own brand in the market and soon set about finding a means to manufacture its own goods.
In the early days, the company relied on Floyds Custom Shop to produce LWD branded products; however, it became apparent that its own CNC machinery was needed. Today the company boasts a bevy of branded products that proudly stand amongst the best aftermarket accessories in the Glock business. The reason for its continued success? Drive and creative ambition.
“We live the experience,” commented Shepard. “We keep our ideas alive by writing each new product down on our meeting room whiteboard. There is an average of 20 new products staring down from the board at us every day. They scream ‘build me quickly.’ Talk about motivation!”
LWD is chock full of experienced shooters whose focus is on delivering quality products to serious shooters. The company’s commitment to quality assurance, ensuring every step in the process is performed perfectly, yields consistent, reliable and durable products that are routinely touted among Glock and aftermarket fans. From connectors to triggers to barrels and slides and frames, Shepard says the company pairs the best materials with expert workmanship to provide the best parts for consumers at affordable prices.
“LWD barrels are the best bang for your buck. We are the uncontested leader, the number one manufacturer of the industry. We provide more models, more calibers, and more configurations than anybody! Our success is simple — we deliver premium grade materials, expert workmanship and superior performance at an affordable price,” Shepard said. “LWD slides are a huge success because we know what serious shooters want. From day one we offered custom features like lowered ejection port, beveled slide rails, no-snag corners, front and rear serrations… we have more models and more custom patterns that anybody.”
While the company has big things on the horizon for 2019, LWD says its most exciting development will come in the form of Next Day Service for custom slide machining. Currently, LWD offers a one-week turnaround for its custom slide machining; but it’s employees stand ready to kick it up a notch.
“This Next Day Service is unheard of in our industry, many will say it is impossible. All I can say is we spent most of 2018 practicing the principal and now that we are ready to launch, 2019 will be the proof. Our customers will be able to order a complete custom top end and get it shipped the next day.” He added, “One Day Turnaround! Yah, we are that good.”
Continuing to do what it does best and elevating it to new heights, Lone Wolf Distributors is poised to take 2019 by storm.
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