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Why South Dakota?

A Question & Answer Session Lehigh Defense
Company Recently Announced South Dakota Expansion Plans
Company: Lehigh Defense
Owner & President: Dave Fricke
Locations: Based in Penn., recently expanded to Rapid City, South Dakota

Q: What does Lehigh Defense do?
A: Lehigh Defense is the world’s largest monolithic projectile manufacturer. We focus on personal defense, hunting, target shooting, as well as serve a wide range of interests and custom designs for the U.S. military.

Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Five years. We are a spinoff from Millennium Manufacturing, which is a large machining shop producing parts for the auto, medical, and aerospace industries.

Q: When will Lehigh Defense be running in Rapid City?
A: We are moving this week, and our first couple of pieces of equipment have arrived at the South Dakota facility. We should be up and running by January 1.

Q: What was appealing about South Dakota?
A: A couple of things were appealing about South Dakota. First, the atmosphere, culture and Midwestern values (attitudes, work ethic, ect.) were more similar to what I was accustomed to, having grown up in Ohio. The educational system was also appealing, from k-12, to the School of Mines and Technology, to the technical schools – it is spot-on for a manufacturing environment.

Q: How do you think SD’s business and tax climate are going to be beneficial to Leheigh Defense?
A: There is an ease to conducting business. Everyone is pro-business and people want to get things done. Processes are simpler and there is less bureaucracy. For example, when we needed to transfer the electric meter at the new facility, it literally took 10 minutes. That task would have taken days in Penn.

Doing business in South Dakota is also beneficial from a cost standpoint. Natural gas, electricity, and taxes are all lower, and South Dakota recognizes that manufacturing is necessary to make the economy more viable in the future.

Q: What are your long-term plans in SD?
A: In 3 years, we hope to be somewhere close to 30 employees. We are also pursuing contracts to design projectiles for other companies in the firearms cluster in the Black Hills. Our technology is new to South Dakota in this industry, and I’m optimistic that we can create some mutually beneficial relationships with companies that are already based in the state.

Visit Lehigh Defense online at

Find us in Booth #2950 at SHOT

The GOED will be exhibiting at the 2016 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show Jan. 19-22 in Las Vegas. Look for us in Booth #2950! For more information on how operating your shooting, hunting or outdoor company in South Daktoa can improve your bottom line, contact Business Development Representative Joe Fiala.

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This is a publication of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Commissioner-Pat Costello; Deputy Commissioner-Aaron Scheibe; Marketing and Public Relations Director-Mary Lehecka Nelson; Editor and Designer-Jennifer Lambley. © Copyright 2015