The History of Starline | Starline Brass “The Brass Facts” Episode 11

[Machine gun sound] Starline presents
“The Brass Facts” Hello and welcome the
Starline’s “The Brass Facts.” I’m Hunter Pilant and today Robert, Barbara, and Robert Hayden Jr
share with us the Starline story. Sit back and enjoy. One of the previous owners of Sierra Bullets, which I was running at the time, I was the president of Sierra bullets and Frank Snow who was one of the previous owners, he’d retired and
his wife had passed away and he really wasn’t ready to retire. And he and I had become very
good friends during that transition period when they sold the company,
when they hired me to run the company and and we were some real good friends. We were at a ball game, watching the Dodgers play, and we were talking about business and things, and he said, “We
ought to do something together.” And I said, “Well, lets go
into the case business.” We incorporated in 1976. We brought another gentleman into the business. His name was Paul Nip. He was a tool and die maker. And we had acquaintance with
Paul by making tools for Sierra. And so he was going to make our tools,
and he was going to be that side of the business. Frank was a genius at
making equipment, designing equipment that
would do this kind of function. So he was going to work on the
equipment and I was going to do more of the sales of the product. I couldn’t do a lot except on weekends and nights because I was still managing Sierra Bullets at the time. So that’s how we got started.
So what really got Starline off the ground was that Federal Cartridge got a contract
from the FBI for 10 millimeter. We started making 10 millimeter
brass for Federal. And that was some big numbers. We were making, we were selling, shipping in about probably
750,000 cases a month. And so that’s when we really got kicking, we got real orders, we were making money. We could no longer satisfy the drive for the business through custom head stamps. We had to go in and
start marketing our own head stamp. And it took us a while. It probably took us the better part of better part of 10 years for
people to really recognize Starline as a case manufacturer. I came up with the idea to move Sierra
first. That was my first– actually that’s what I did
for a living at that point in time. And it was kinda funny, when I made that decision in about ’80– we made that decision in about ’88, I think it was. So we started finding a site, right? I used to come through Sedalia all the time
going to the Lake of the Ozarks for vacation and stuff and I always liked the town of Sedalia. So I picked out Sedalia ’cause I liked to have this business, and move Sierra, ok, and so that’s when we started putting together a plan to move Sierra. And we got with ACI, and we built the, you know, we got a custom building built, and moved Sierra in 1990, the fall of 1990. We actually moved
in October of ’90. And we’re not thinking about Starline at that point moving. In fact, when when I left California, you know, Barbara was still in California ok, she was mayor of Downy at the time and
she had her politics going. I had put Bobby working in the business,
he’d come out of high school and did not want to go to college. So I put him in the business and he did every nasty job you can do in this business. I mean he was wash and polish operator. I remember down at the Quonset Hut down there in Covina, California, summer time it would be 120 degrees inside that building and we had fans blowing on everybody, but he learned to do everything
from the ground floor up. We were created from a group of gentlemen that were very, very knowledgeable as
far as tool and die makers and I had the opportunity to learn from
those people. They taught me my craft basically and I was very fortunate in the fact I
had those gentlemen to learn from. They taught me to over-design the equipment,
build it better than it needs to be, to keep it simple, and then to always keep track of the quality, be able to check the quality
of the case before it goes and is mixed and goes to the next operation. And so, taking that background, I was able to, as we’ve evolved,
continue to apply that philosophy to, you know, the every day-to-day operation and keeping things simple, and yet over designing them and making them probably more precise or a
little bit better than they need to be in order to hold the tolerances we have to hold and to have these machines
run day in and day out like they do and be able to maintain the caliber of the quality that we are used to providing. And I told both, I said, “I’m leaving,
I’m going, I’m going to Missouri, ok? You guys are going to have to run the business.” And he said, “I’ll give you a year, ok and Bobby, I don’t know what his age was
at that time but he was still a young boy, in my mind, ok, a young man. And Barbara hadn’t been involved in
business too much at that point in time. I said, “You two are going to
have to run the business and if you can’t make it go, and you
can’t do it, and you can’t handle it then we’ll put it up on the market and sell it. Bye I’m going to Missouri.” And that’s exactly how it went down. He told us when he left town, and came back to Sedalia with Sierra, that we either had to sink or swim, and if we couldn’t make it work then
we’d just sell the business. So Bobby and I made a pact that it will work and it did and it has worked very well. We’re pretty proud with what we’ve
accomplished in his absence. I think he thought we couldn’t do it,
[laughs] but we surprised him. So I got back here, started the Sierra Bullet business up.
Got it running rolling good. And I noticed these 5 acres
next door here were for sale. So I say, “We might just– I’m doing this, I just built one building, just built the one company and got it going good.” And I said, “We might as well do the
same thing and bring Starline back here.” So they came in and as
we were producing the last cases, they were taking the machinery off-line and rigging it and shipping it back here. Bobby came back here to receive
the equipment as it came in, and Ann and I stayed in California
and closed down the Covina plant. But it was a very interesting process. We had to do– we had to get
a niche in the market place. And I said, “Well, Bobby did an excellent job.” If we were out and competing with
the 9 millimeter and .45 and some of the standard brass, against Remington and Federal and Winchester, it’s hard to compete with them
because they make so much of it at one time. It’s hard to
compete with that. But we decided we were going to
make a lot of different types of whole line cartridge cases.
Have a look at our product line. We have about 75 cases in our line. And had a lot of this stuff that’s, you know, cartridge cases you couldn’t buy any place. People have guns and they want to shoot these guns, pistols and old time buffalo rifles like the
45-70, 45-90, 45-120, the Quigley gun you see in the Quigley movie, all those kind of old firearms. So we decided we were going to
build the cases to support those. We are a smaller company
which allows us to react to customers’ requests and feedback
from the shooting community so we can fill niches: Cowboy shooting or old vintage firearms. We’ve also been able to work with new companies who develop cutting edge calibers. So it’s been kind of, you know, I guess really being a smaller
company that can react quickly to shooters needs, listening to the feedback and then applying what you’re hearing to
the product and the process, is probably one of the biggest
ways that Starline has been able
to be innovative and fill niches and gaps that some of the bigger companies
probably can’t get to as quickly as we can. I believe our product to be better, or
as good as anybody else’s out there for the simple fact: our process is
based on quality first. And so, it may take us a little longer to produce X amount of parts. However, the quality processes
and the checks that we perform after each operation are instrumental in making the quality of our
product as good as it can be. In 2012, I received notification
from the governor’s office that Starline was being honored and there was a lunch in Jeff City that
we needed to go to, so we did and they presented us with the best minority, women-owned business of the year in 2012. So I was really, really tickled with that. That meant a lot to all of us. So they recognized that we had come here and done a good job,
and become a good part of the community and a strong viable business. So, that was a real plus for us to have
received that recognition. Where we expect to be or
hope to be in the next ten years is anybody’s guess.
If this market continues to grow and remain in a similar growth pattern, we are just going to
being more the same. There is no point in if I can’t fulfill the requirements of the customers
that I have with the current product then we’ll just be working on doing
more of the same, as good as we can. If things change and things slow down, we
have several new calibers that we’re looking at. They’re new to us, but have
been in existence a long time and then also some
different projects whether it be rifle cartridges, or just adding
to our cowboy line or whatever the case may be depending on the feedback we have from
our customers and what direction the market place takes us. So we are going to continue to at this point to just increase our production capabilities and to wait and see what the future brings, I guess. We hope you’ve enjoyed the history of Starline. For more information on our quality American
made brass check us out online at

11 thoughts on “The History of Starline | Starline Brass “The Brass Facts” Episode 11

  • Years ago (in the late 80's maybe), Midway (before they were MidwayUSA) sold brass with the Midway headstamp.  Any chance that Starline made this brass?

  • Not sure if you make brass cases 577-450 but lots of shooters would love to be able to have it.  The RCBS forming dies run about $600 alone and if you can find them. 

  • how come you guys won't mass market .45 cowboy special?  I had been told, Starline required a large order of cases (100,000?), before they would tool up to make a specific case…with cowboy action shooting so popular, why don't you offer it in your normal line?  I can't order in ammo in my state mail or internet, and no one but one company offers it in loaded ammunition…I have been cutting down .45 Colt brass to make .45 CS, but it's not perfect…

  • What a great story. I only use Strarline Brass for .357 mag. What a story !! I can’t say that enough. Great America ! There are dreams and people still making it happen. Robert, you seem very knowledgeable and well spoken. I will be a customer for life. Thank you for making such good brass for a fair price. Funny , I just made a video on Starline brass saying how much I like it. Always good !!

  • Been shooting your straight wall cartridges since the early 90's. I was very pleased to see that you have gotten into bottle necks and have ordered and used your .243 cases with fantastic results and have 6.5 Grendel on the way.

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