On this episode of the Riton Podcast, host Brady Speth dives into the history of two members of the Riton team, John Piscione and Tony Tarantino. Listen to their start in the firearms industry and the stories that come with it.
Be The Riton Revolution
Brady Speth 0:08
Alright guys, welcome to the Riton podcast. Today we’re in for a treat.
I say that as everyone has a smile on their face. First off, we got a couple Riton employees, friends. Part of what we’ve kind of talked about what the Riton podcast is, bringing in, this is gonna be a rough one today. Part of what we talked about with the Riton podcast is gonna let you know us a little better letting you know our team a little better. So today, we have John Piscione and Tony Tarantino
John Piscione 0:37
Brady Speth 0:39
And they’re both President here while they’re here I don’t know about present, but physically, here mentally we’ll find out here in a few minutes. So anyways, we will get to this so welcome, guys to the podcast.
John Piscione 0:50
Thanks for having us.
Tony Tarantino 0:51
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Brady Speth 0:52
It’s gonna be rough.
Tony Tarantino 0:53
Brady Speth 0:54
Oh my god.
Anyway, so kinda we’ll start out John, your VP of sales for Riton. Tony, Marketing Manager for Riton. And then you guys know, for five years, or something like that? Yeah. So, for me, super stoked to have you guys on the Riton team to do the podcast appreciate it is a fun journey we’ve been on for the last little while
John Piscione 1:20
Brady Speth 1:21
So it is nothing but a good time, which is what we love. So we kind of start out I think, let’s, let’s find out a little bit about you guys. Part of this is getting to know our team and getting them kind of the Riton family. So I don’t know who goes first age or beauty.
John Piscione 1:37
I don’t mind going first, I guess there’s always a lot of questions of how does someone get into the firearms industry? And is essentially where, where I think we both started almost, what, 18 years in this in a roundabout way from I was at, well, how do you get into it? And I say it’s just kind of blind luck. It finds you. There’s no I think community college that you can go to and say I want to be a small arms dealer,
Brady Speth 2:00
John Piscione 2:01
There’s a couple movies that lay out an outline, and you try to follow that it’s to the tee but that surely doesn’t work. But you know, it was just a passion. it you know, people like what do you you know, they say what’s the thing you know, if you find out what you like to do you never work a true day in your life,
Brady Speth 2:18
John Piscione 2:18
It’s great. I found I had a passion for firearms many, many years ago, I was living in San Diego and I was Tony introduced me to a gentleman who now owns or has owned the Scottsdale Gun Club. And I was buying guns from before it was SGC. It was a little place mom and pop shop called the armory. And I met a gentleman and his now wife. And I knew they were going to build the Scottsdale Gun Club. And I was buying firearms from them in Arizona and having them shipped to our FFL in San Diego. And I was like, well, this is kind of neat. And it was during a time in California where people were kind of making this mad dash to acquire guns which are black and taboo are assumed to be taboo. I guess under this already we
Brady Speth 2:18
Already happening in California.
John Piscione 3:09
Already taboo. Yeah.
And it was interesting. Because I had neighbors and one of them Well, how do I get that and this and that. So I explained the laws and how the laws will be changing in California at the time. And I could very easily see that there was money to be made in this game. So I didn’t like the way the direction the laws were going in California for the obvious reasons. I don’t think anybody really does if you’re in our industry. So I knew I was gonna move to Arizona. I had family there, obviously this guy here and other family as well.
Brady Speth 3:42
We should probably jump in there.
Tony Tarantino 3:44
So yeah, so yeah, we are just so everybody does ask us because you know, john and i
Brady Speth 3:48
Tony Tarantino 3:49
Piscione. Tony and Tarantino they’re Italian last names and people go Yeah, Italians always say they’re their cousins and all that but yeah, to get it out yet for everybody. John and i really our cousins, our moms are sisters. So there’s there’s three daughters that had five boys and all of us one time has, has pretty much been in the gun industry. John and I have been together more often than the rest of the guys but like my brother owns a gun store in Phoenix,
John Piscione 4:13
Tony Tarantino 4:17
and that our younger cousin was working for john when he was at his when john had his own shop. So yeah, like john said, I introduced him to the gentleman who owns the Scottsdale Gun Club. And I was working as a in the produce department at a grocery store. And I I liked it so much that I started volunteering for them had this volunteer job where they were paying me in credit. So every time I’d show up, they would just tally up my credit and I’m like, yep, cool. Yeah, I’ll take one, and then I ended up getting a huge collection out of it, introduced John to them, and then it ended up they were they were transitioning from the armory to the Gun Club, right. And that’s pretty much about when John got on. And then I was on about six or seven months after they had opened up the Gun Club and I was still working there. And then we were both full time and
Brady Speth 5:08
Yeah, it was. So that was I don’t think the country ever seen what now, we kind of explained that the guntry club.
Tony Tarantino 5:14
John Piscione 5:15
type with what you see now, nationwide, it was really kind of ahead of its time. And we’re probably pretty blessed to be on the ground floor or something like that. It’s really kind of an interesting experience and did that for I think I did that for five years or so between the armory and the Gun Club. And I was, I handled a lot of their NFA sales, they had a pretty healthy machine gun collection, met a lot of interesting people throughout the years and decided to, I think I kind of hit a glass ceiling there. And one of our members says, like, hey, do you want to try to do something like this? That’s more around the NFA side of things, you know, suppressors, machine guns, transferable machine guns, AOW’s, that kind of thing. So I opened up a little place, and it just happened to be fortunately, we had since you know, hugged and broke bread, you know, years and years have gone by, but it was an interesting thing. I went after a different partition. Yeah, it was a weird transition. So did that for a little while. Unfortunately, some things were going on in my personal life, my father was was sick at the time, and I needed to take off for work well, well, well, he was ill. And during that time, there were a couple other people that left the Gun Club and went to work for FNH. And they said, Hey, would you you know, we know you’re kind of doing some transitional stuff and taking some personal time off yada, yada. So would you want to be like an adjunct instructor for FN? So I kind of gotten the now bigger family manufacturing side of things and getting to see that and helping out and go into a lot of events. And it kind of evolved from from from that. And where do we go from that? I did that.
Tony Tarantino 6:58
So Yeah, you did that.
John Piscione 7:00
You were still there.
Tony Tarantino 7:01
I stayed. I stayed. I didn’t leave the Gun Club until 2013. So for the majority of the time, I was a floor manager than a sales manager. Then I then they there was an opening to be the buyer. And then for God, at least eight or nine years, I was the buyer at at Scottsdale Gun Club but I mean, john knows, I mean, like when we were there, the opportunity of being on the ground floor, like john said, at the Gun Club was outrageous. You know, I mean, it was 10 or 12 of us 20 year old 30 year olds that were running a multi million dollar largest indoor shooting facility,
John Piscione 7:40
a lot of ex military a lot of high energy and yeah, very young, young guns, a lot of extracurricular activities after hours there.
Tony Tarantino 7:50
I mean, the success just out of it. I mean, the sheer demographic in the early 2000s in Scottsdale with the housing boom, before the crash. I mean, everybody has a bunch of extra money to buy guns,
John Piscione 8:02
the land of the $30,000 millionaires, what we call Lexus and have blowup furniture. So we buying machine guns and stuff like that.
Tony Tarantino 8:13
Yeah, I mean, it was it was a crazy time, we were doing a lot of crazy stuff. And if you if you would tell somebody you know, at a business college that, you know, you’re gonna throw 10 or 12 20 year olds to run this, you know, $20 million a year company. They’d be like, no, it’s never gonna happen.
John Piscione 8:31
It’s still there today. It’s been it’s doing really well. I think it was kind of a benchmark for everyone.
Tony Tarantino 8:37
There’s a ton of companies. I mean, john, and I, and the rest of us have all, you know, traveled a large portion of the country and you walk into these places, and you’re like, Man, this is awesome. Yeah. And it came from one of our employees, pretty much college thesis of, hey, this could be a viable business.
John Piscione 8:54
And it was,
Tony Tarantino 8:55
John Piscione 8:56
Models were built off of that.
Tony Tarantino 8:57
John Piscione 8:57
I would imagine to this day, I from there, then well, from my own little place and doing that adjunct thing, I jumped over to a company called strategic armory core. And at the time, it was just a it’s kind of a funny story how that how that actually started in my buddy was how much time we got on this thing, but it was a I walked in, they were doing, they needed machine guns for a photoshoot and I had a bunch of transferable machine guns left and this was while I was still doing the adjunct thing. So I walk in and there was a father son that bought EWC suppressors and I didn’t really know that there had already acquired Surgeon rifles and they were gonna blend McMillan and ArmaLite Nexus and when it started snowballing, but when I went in there to drop off I think it was a an Uzi for a photo shoot, you know, you put it on the gunsmithing ticket, take pictures of it. So I get in there and the previous owner, Lynne McWilliams had been in the suppressor industry forever. He, he had passed and these people were buying the company and I’m dropping off this you know, at the time 10 $12,000 uzi you know that for them to take photos. And sure enough, I’m looking at these just shit everywhere. I mean, the place yeah, like a bomb. Like you’re not gonna I’m like, What the hell? You got some compliancy issues here? I mean, they’re gonna get lost. You’re not gonna lose my gunner.
Brady Speth 10:16
John Piscione 10:17
And I’m laughing at my buddy, who is you drove me up there. We’re just kind of man this is. Well, I didn’t realize that, that my buddy calls me later as I came in that the owner was in the next room and heard everything you know, he liked him. Yeah,
Brady Speth 10:33
he likes the fact that Yeah,
John Piscione 10:35
he kind of spotted some of the stuff and we’re being honest, could you come back down here and meet with him. So I met with him and as I met with the gentleman and he son, and I could tell that they were kind of doing a father son thing trying to give it a shot at the the gun industry. And they brought me on to help them consult and get, I guess, compliant. Little bit, you’re looking at 30 40 years of one of the well, if not the earliest suppressor manufacturer out there, there was a lot of history to say the least. So did that for a few months. And it very quickly. They brought me on full time. And it was kind of it was, it was an interesting place to be.
Brady Speth 11:15
John Piscione 11:15
did that for about six and a half years traveled the world with, you know, one of the owners of the company. And by I mean, there’s not too many places. I hadn’t been with that company. I mean, from Malaysia, Africa, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, I mean, all of Europe, it was it was really interesting time, actually, you get now you kind of can see the whole scope of how big our industry is globally, right.
Tony Tarantino 11:42
John Piscione 11:43
that added more fuel to the fire. And I was like, This is awesome. Yeah, and then, you know, did that for about six years, I was gonna go back to work for FN they reached out to me. And sure enough, I reconnected with a good friend of mine, Frank de Soma, the owner and founder of patriot Ordnance Factory, God rest his soul of close friend of mine, and always had been. And he’s like, hey, before you jump on board with, go back to fn, where we’re at worldwide show, which is a buy group show we’re playing Penny slots at a bar. Why don’t you come? Come come over and work for me? And I’m like, Well, you know, that sounds like fun. But I’ve heard the stories and everything. And I’m sure. I met with him and his wife, Tracy. And yeah, I mean, I kind of knew what I was getting into. But they were getting into some exciting times, you know, new building new product and, and they’re still in the thriving right now. awesome product that they built recently, which was the revolution which is a you know, small little AR receiver, which is a three but in the form of a 308, you could really take like it was it just an interesting product if people haven’t seen it, or
Brady Speth 12:52
Frank was a mad scientist
John Piscione 12:53
yeah, he was the mad scientist, you know, you may have not had the business accurate. Some of it which he would gladly or easily
Brady Speth 13:01
met, but he was it was, I have to tell you, and you know, it was funny, cuz I’m like, Well, I’m gonna come on board. And Tony had worked for him for years. And I’m like, well, you’re gonna bring him back. He’s What? Pulling the hair out? What do you What? Why do I have to bring him back in? And I’m like, watch? Well, first of all, I think we’re all dead bodies were in that place. back so he couldn’t wrap his head. Why? Why? You know, I wanted to bring him back to a place where, you know, Frank treated iron once before. But very quickly, he said, Wow, this was a great sales team. Like it would be foolish not to put you guys together. And so he comes back, we’re they’re doing our thing. I think we made some headway. They had some interesting product, which was helpful for us, but we kind of helped them navigate a little bit and forge those relationships and teach them distribution and by groups and make them a little bit more solid than I think they were previously. And that’s where we kind of met you guys, I guess it was. And we, we saw you and Todd Neice. And we’re like, these things are fun, you know, what’s going on here and we could kind of see that there was some, you know, a learning curve for you know, you get bombarded with how to buy groups or work and, you know, navigating through NSJW and trying to you know, get maximize your dollar and how to be seen in this industry, which let’s face it, whether it’s firearms or optics or holsters. One could think very easily that this is a very saturated industry with all those products and it really isn’t, if you’ve got something good and great and it’s a good product and you’re one of the things I always said when we’re at POF just be the Easy Company to deal with. Yeah, you know that that goes a long way.
Tony Tarantino 14:43
And I think we I think John and I all the time we’ve ever been together we’ve always said just be the easiest guys to work with. And I think we do that here at Riton, me on the marketing side and John being on the sales side. Why not? You know,
Brady Speth 14:56
and we use a lot of our we loved a lot of our relationships Even when we’re with patriot Ordnance Factory, and certainly here just to kind of bring it full circle, I think people, there’s a level of trust, I think in 18 years that he and I have kind of worked together that people like, well, we might not know a lot about this company or this brand, but we we know, you guys, and we’ve always had good relationships with you. So you’re not going to steer us into a hole that you can’t get out of. And I think that kind of helped, and having a fantastic product certainly makes it a little bit easier. So that’s how we met. Where did we meet it was that, uh, oh, no, I
Tony Tarantino 15:30
think it was Atlanta. Yeah.
Brady Speth 15:33
Whenever that was,
Tony Tarantino 15:34
you know, when you meet
Brady Speth 15:39
some of these after our parties and stuff, and and we looked at each other like, Man, that would be a fun group to be a part of. And, you know, there’s a lot of optics companies out there, but I think we make one of the best out there. And with that, it’s just watching this company grow. It has been, it’s just been insane.
I mean, I think that’s one of the couple of things that we bring to this. There’s a, like you said, be easy to work with, which is we’ve always been that way. And the first thing that you kind of hit on was like person, lets have fun way to do this, right? Like, it’s fun, you better enjoy what you do. And other people better be able to see that. Or if people don’t want to do business with people, they’re like, monotonous and hate their lives and hate their jobs. And
John Piscione 16:23
they dread that phone call that they get from you.
Brady Speth 16:25
John Piscione 16:26
Yeah, you know, trying to set up for shows.
No, shit. Yeah, we got people. Well,
Tony Tarantino 16:32
I you know, I think you’ve you gravitate towards good people. Yeah. Like you always find those people that you’ll meet. And then a couple years later, you’ll meet them again.
Brady Speth 16:41
Tony Tarantino 16:41
I think when we met you guys, it was while there they are John’s right. They are fun. Let’s, let’s hang out with them. Let’s try to figure something out. And
Brady Speth 16:48
I think I think I pissed myself the first time I was hanging out with Todd, he had me. I know my ribs hurt. The next day, I was having a hard time breathing and wheezing.
Tony Tarantino 16:59
I was looking at my phone last night and there was a picture i’d sent you and Todd a couple years ago before john and i had started to come work for Riton and it was also under the sign and you guys hadn’t gotten your NASGW
Brady Speth 17:10
Tony Tarantino 17:10
we were like. And I was like, man.
Brady Speth 17:17
Like that wasn’t. That was an interesting show that I remember. There was some, you know, being a new company, you kind of again, it’s hard to understand how this thing Oh
I’m sure we signed up for that show. Like, like two weeks later.
I think we called Meg said,
Hey, Meg we need a booth
I think we’re on like another optics company. Great, you know, exactly thrilled, but we introduced everybody. It was great. I remember, like, having meetings, which were, I don’t know, maybe 50 yards away from your hotel around the corner. And we’re having meetings with, you know, POF. And as soon as the meetings we try to space, our gaps and be like, Oh, yeah, well, we’re gonna take a walk, we’d introduce some of these buyers
John Piscione 17:57
the Riton team at the time, which was Tod and Brady here here.
Brady Speth 18:02
Next thing, you know, I think we landed like 10 or 11 meetings and three people signed us on. Yeah, I think that was a homerun for being at your first NASGW.
We’ll do a shameless plug. Because maybe meg squoze us in and what two years later, we got nominated this year for
John Piscione 18:16
Brady Speth 18:16
you know, top five optics company. If you’re here, this is just a short notice to yours. Look at the difference. So it was really yeah, that was a that was
Tony Tarantino 18:25
a fun show. You’re like, okay, our meetings over with Okay, hey, come with me.
John Piscione 18:29
It was it was the people had a hard time coming, like what’s going on here? And it I think I know, I personally gave a commitment of a certain time element to the POF family and it was three years and it was certainly discussed before I even stepped in the place. You know, the day I started there. And it was something a lot of people like john, you’ve been in the firearms side of the sink for forever.
Brady Speth 18:53
John Piscione 18:54
and I’m like, Well, I do and they’re like, well, you must see something here to make that transition. I could have went and gotten a job back with one of the big manufacturers out there again, and I’m like, Nah, this is fun. Yeah, and I think when you start getting to the ripe old age that I’m at now you want to have a little bit more fun
Brady Speth 19:12
we made him take a readers off the table
Don’t sit on em.
John Piscione 19:20
probably break those
Brady Speth 19:22
it just I wanted to have some fun in this was a company that I think I think there’s certainly room for us we’ve proven it already. We have proven it there’s room in the cemetery so for a lot of whether it’s a holster company coming up a new rifle company and whatever the case may be I mean this industry has been real. We’ve been very fortunate, I think to be a part of it and make a living at it.
John Piscione 19:47
It’s fun. You go to the shows and yeah, we got the excuse me COVID thing now and the shows are canceling from would have shot show to NASGW and it’s it’s unfortunate I think we all miss each other on the road. It is a family, you know, whether you’re competing optics company or competing rifle company when you see each other on the road. You’re
Brady Speth 20:09
still that camaraderie and that
John Piscione 20:10
Brady Speth 20:10
there’s no other industry like this. I don’t think I haven’t seen Yeah,
Tony Tarantino 20:13
I think I’ve called more friends on the phone, you know, just Yeah. You know, daytime or whatever. And you’re like, Hey, how’s it going? What’s going on?
you’re missing out on some of that face to face interaction. And, you know, the four or five, six times you see somebody in a year is important, and then you don’t get it. You don’t
Brady Speth 20:35
want to get there again. I don’t think this is gonna be this this. You know, now that the election is over, I’m sure there’s gonna be a cure. Yeah.
Oh, there we go. Alright, so I get it out, jump in. So 20 something years old, working in an indoor gun range. You guys got to paint some pictures of this? Because I’m guessing. And I know some stories. I’m guessing. I want to know a little you guys got to elaborate a little more on what it’s like having a bunch of 20 year olds running around with guns and gun ranges and the type of people?
Tony Tarantino 21:10
No, we won’t. We will. We will not mention names. I can tell you, I think from
Brady Speth 21:14
paint a picture of what it’s like
Tony Tarantino 21:15
from the top, the the owner set some really, really good ground rules for us, especially when it came to safety. Yeah, I mean, we were, you know, we were running 249 and mini me’s and 240s. And I mean, on the range. And, you know, none of that ever really happened. You know, up to that point, nobody was really, adults actually indoors, indoors,
John Piscione 21:15
and we must have had 50 machine guns on the wall. And it was just a buffet. I think our pricing structure was like, you know, $50 to $30 a gun unless it was a belt fed. It was $20 per magazine. It was
Brady Speth 21:52
John Piscione 21:52
it was a good system. It was a Sushi menu. And during during that time, and in the area in which we were people would come in and blow $5,000 $10,000 had an idea and you’d be out there all day. You get three RO’s. And you know, everyone, you know, it’s kind of funny. Or not funny, but you get the safety issues of like,
Hey, did you guys see all that?
Brady Speth 22:11
Yeah, Guns swinging around everywhere.
Yeah, actions open with a magazine with one round hangin in there
finger on the trigger.
John Piscione 22:19
It was a there was some scary scary times with that.
Brady Speth 22:23
Tony Tarantino 22:24
I mean, no one no employee ever got hurt. But yeah, it was. Yeah, you know, you gotta get hurt. Yeah. Not badly. But I mean, it was it was something new for all of us to learn.
Brady Speth 22:37
Tony Tarantino 22:38
If you had retail experience.
You didn’t have a gun range right behind you.
Brady Speth 22:42
John Piscione 22:42
Well, it was
Tony Tarantino 22:44
it was a big, big animal. I’m really
Brady Speth 22:46
Tony Tarantino 22:46
So to wrap your head around what was going on? And how many hands had to be in the pot to like, make it work was was crazy. I mean, it really was, I mean, the phone would ring off the hook. I mean, I laugh my cousin john here, you know, he would go out on the floor because he’d be working some big NFA deal. And he’d scream out to the floor and be like, Don’t worry, I got it he’d pick the phone and then he you know, cuz
Brady Speth 23:11
we were buying collections from people, you know, $10,000 for this gun. You know, we start the paperwork up and sell it for $18,000 over to the person in the next room and the gun. It was just a little little squirrely there. A lot of three card Monte. I think a lot of people when they when it came out people like well, I want to be in the gun industry. I’m gonna work for that team. And we did. Well, there’s quite a few people that learn quickly, that hard team to work with. One instance was a while Tony loves this story. We’re the little bit of a, I would say in an ND on the floor. And one of our one of our new hires. Well, we had a we had a guy who was seasoned it’s been there, he had a bit of an imbalance. He was an interesting person. He was very gung ho anybody who sandbags the inside of their home because they live in the desired place in downtown Phoenix. Like putting sandbags up you know chin high all the way
you may have picked the wrong neighborhood
Yeah, well, we may pick the wrong guy, I don’t know. But there was an instance where there was and one of the that is that particular employee very savvy quick on the gun. Didn’t realize where it came from. So he grabs a new employee by the neck uses body shell and tries to scan and try to get the threats under control which there was no there was an ND on the ground no one was hurt knock on fermica.
Just a chunk into the concrete.
Needless to say it was that guy’s first and last week
John Piscione 24:55
the the shield
Brady Speth 24:56
John Piscione 24:57
Brady Speth 24:59
John Piscione 25:01
gonna get some trigger time on the range and enjoy this. But he’s like, no, you guys are nuts
Brady Speth 25:04
Not going to be shielded up
John Piscione 25:06
There’ll be a couple of people out there know exactly what happened. And he’s around still.
Brady Speth 25:12
behind some sandbags.
There was a it was an neat neat time. Yeah, unfortunately, with the positions that we have, we get to travel all over these places and we get to see Wow. You know, yeah, this looks like SGC This looks like a place that we Yeah,
we’ve seen all over the country now.
John Piscione 25:31
And, and there’s some guys really knocking out of the park.
Brady Speth 25:33
Tony Tarantino 25:34
John Piscione 25:34
I mean, there’s some wow, you know, you know, now, the big thing, you know, a few years back or, you know, 100 yard ranges, they’re there, a lot of them out there. They’re indoors. So it’s a common thing.
Tony Tarantino 25:45
I think the only one before us was probably like h&h. miles had HGH and I think we came on board. And man we got, we got a lot of people that were some big time naysayers. Like, you guys aren’t going to make it. You’re going to be closed in six months. I mean, there were there were ammunition manufacturers. That said, No, we won’t sell to you. In the beginning, just because and then we ended up getting relationship with one of the major now major players.
Yeah. That’s a crazy story. Like we, we had a great opening. And Paul was representing Well, he had owned a rep company, and he owns a woody on a single engine. And he was up in Utah. And one of the guys we were one of the guy, he literally loaded his plane with like, as much .40 as he could fuel, and then him on board and flew it to Scottsdale for us. I mean, that’s the craziest story. So those manufacturers, those ammo manufacturers that had told us No, there were a couple later on when I was the buyer, and I would tell them that story. Yeah, about Paul flyin us ammo. And he didn’t need I’m like, would you do that for us? Yeah. And
Brady Speth 27:04
whats your level of customer service?
Tony Tarantino 27:06
They sit across the table from you? And you’re like, No, no, I don’t want my pilot’s license. I don’t know how to fly. You know, all that. And it’s like, Well, okay. Thanks. We’ll stick with blue boxes. Yeah, we’re not gonna buy greens.
Brady Speth 27:19
John Piscione 27:20
It’s, it’s neat to in this industry, it’s funny. There was a saying, I think my dad just told me he’s like, it’d be really kind to the people on you see on the way up, because those are the same people you see, on the way down, right?
Brady Speth 27:32
John Piscione 27:33
And it was there’s a lot of people that didn’t give us a chance in anything in our careers. And then next thing, you know, like, okay, you’re sitting across the table, like, Hey, man, I, you know, it wasn’t what it was at that time. But let’s It’s a new day today. So let’s let’s handle this, like it does. You never know, where people are gonna be, you know, 5 10 15 years from now. And you take a lot of that those attitudes that may have come across the table with a grain of salt. And like I said, to try to have more fun in this industry then carry grudges on anybody? Because there’s a lot of fun to be had. There’s a lot more fun to be had in this industry.
Brady Speth 28:06
Absolutely. That’s why were doin it.
John Piscione 28:06
I don’t think even with all the BS that we’re we’re seeing in legislation or potential legislation that may come come of this new administration. I, we’re not going anywhere. I mean, I really don’t think so. You know, you talk about these crazy things, how they’re going to implement the 1934 Gun Control Act, comes to magazines and semi automatic guns. And I think we all know that we all went on a fishing trip with our own entire collections and the boat tips, right?
Brady Speth 28:36
John Piscione 28:37
But there’s a lot. I mean, I think I can speak for just about anybody in our industry. It’s time to get back on the road. Yeah, it’s time to start getting to the shows and enjoy
Brady Speth 28:46
doing what we love doing. Absolutely.
But fun stuff. God, I wish you I wish I know. We’re gonna talk about.
This is Definitely part one of many because I know I know a lot of these stories to tell. So finish with you a little bit your history in the industry and kind of up to up to Riton a little bit. Yeah, john kind of alluded to it. So
Tony Tarantino 29:09
so no problem. I left sgc in 2013. There was a lady who was running a rifle manufacturer, who went to go work for Frank Frank de Soma at POF. I saw her at that SHOT Show in 2013. And she said, Hey, you know, I’d like to, I’d like to have a meeting with you. When, when I come in town, she had lived out of town. She was working remote. I went in town. It was late in the day I walk in, it’s just her and Frank sittin in an office. And I’m like, Okay, cool. Let’s talk about you know, getting rifles into the Gun Club and everything like that. And she’s like, no, this isn’t an interview. And I was like, Oh, you mean like impromptu? I was like, Okay, perfect. What do you what do you like she’s like, so we need a sales manager. And I was like, oh, Okay, cool. So, you know, we talked for an hour and it’s, you know, pretty animated. You know, Frank’s Frank was larger than life. So, we come to an agreement.
John Piscione 30:17
I love you too
I love you fuckers!
Brady Speth 30:20
as loud as you can possibly. I’m the loudest one in the room.
I did preface this podcast I said, Hey, what do you guys get animated? Don’t start hitting the mic.
Tony Tarantino 30:30
we just can’t hit each other? We gotta be far enought away through it, I threw a number out of them. They said they’d think about it. And they called me back said, Yeah, we’d like to offer you the job. And I thought about it long and hard. I, all I knew really in the gun industry was working for really one company, right. And the position that I was in, I mean, not build myself up. But I mean, I was in a pretty, pretty high spot when it came to being a retailer, right? I mean, we were buying enormous amounts of everything. I mean, it was crazy, crazy, the amount and I was doing it by myself and, you know, get a little bit of help from some of the people at the Gun Club. But I think by time came, some other people were jumping ship. And I was like, one of the last original guys there at the time in 2013. I think there’s one more guy. Yeah. Yeah, but he’s about the only last one real original person. He’s still there. Oh, yeah. Yeah,
John Piscione 31:32
he would be the last guy there.
Tony Tarantino 31:34
And he was six months after me. So he wasn’t like guys that came over from the armory. But
Brady Speth 31:38
Tony Tarantino 31:38
I thought about it long and hard. And then I, you know, eventually your time just comes up. And you’re like, Okay, you know what, I’m gonna go work on the manufacturer side. No, the opportunities different, I’m gonna, I’m gonna switch, you know, I’m gonna switch roles. And this was a
Brady Speth 31:52
from buying selling now.
Tony Tarantino 31:53
So go from buying to selling. I remember having a conversation with john. John’s like, Hey, you know what your whole mindset has to change. John’s always been a sales guy. And I’ve got to go from being the top of the heap.
Brady Speth 32:09
Why do I not?
Flip the switch?
Yeah, like it works the other way around?
Tony Tarantino 32:22
It does. It does. And, you know, it was a it was, it wasn’t a total. Yeah. It was a it was a change. But I think the product that we had and it
Brady Speth 32:36
it worked out,
Tony Tarantino 32:37
but you know what, it always comes back down to just treating everybody right and having respect. And you know, just doing what you say that you’ll do? Just do. Just do what you say you’re going to do Don’t bullshit people. And don’t you know, that was the one thing I’d be in the buyer at SGC. If I said I was going to do what I was going to do, it may take me a little bit longer. But honesty is always is always the best, right? Don’t ever don’t ever bullshit. Anybody. I mean, no bullshit, you’ll be fine. Yeah,
Brady Speth 33:06
They’ll see through it and then you don’t get a second chance.
Tony Tarantino 33:08
So I was there for three years. And then I think, eventually, you know, you get to three years working for POF. And, you know, in that in that position, it always changed and there are other people before us. before me. Yeah,
John Piscione 33:24
bust out your kneepads, everybody does it
Tony Tarantino 33:26
I went to go work for an e commerce retail, a big retailer here and Phoenix. So they were great. Husband and wife on the company. They’re still there. They do awesome business. I mean, lines out the door. Before COVID. Were were awesome. I just, you know, I thought something was gonna happen bigger with that company. And then just out of the blue, john calls me one day and says, Hey, want you to come back to POF. And I was like, What? And I’m like, come on, and I’m like, I thought about it. I said, Okay, if it’s gonna be you, and I yeah, I’ll come back. No problem.
Brady Speth 33:59
We were the sales team, there was no we use rep groups, like a lot of manufacturers do. And we had, we had some really good rep groups, we decided to go with one that’s been around for a long, long time. We’re very happy with it. We changed the way I think they looked at business. You know, it was a, you know, there was a lot of questions I had, at the time when we started with POF, I’m like, why aren’t you a $50 million a year company and quickly you start to figure out that, you know, they run it differently. And that’s a corporate which is kind of comforting, you know, families everything and it’s fun, like not to yelling, or screaming or
alot of yelling,
John Piscione 34:34
but a lot of hugs, hugs and eating dinners together and being a family and, you know, I miss Frank an awful lot, you know, and my heart goes out to everybody there at POF I think about them daily, and you know, they’re gonna do fine, they’re gonna they’re gonna do great. They got a good team still and, you know, from my understanding Cody’s running in the helm now and totally moving forward with it. I think they’re there. They’re on line for great success, just as we all are in this industry to get over this fucking COVID back on the road, but it’s all good stuff.
Brady Speth 35:09
So two stands with POF. And now with Rion
Tony Tarantino 35:16
You typically you typically don’t see that you go back to a company.
Brady Speth 35:20
Tony Tarantino 35:21
Um, but you know, I didn’t I did it out of, you know, knowing that I wasn’t going to be a big help to john and
John Piscione 35:29
where the bodies were
Tony Tarantino 35:30
Yeah, like he said, you know, and and pay was good and, and it was closer to my house. It was like three miles from my house POF was and even the newer building was another couple blocks. But I think that was a that was a big thing too. I mean, their whole progress of we’re moving into a new building Frank,
John Piscione 35:48
Brady Speth 35:49
Yeah, that whole time.
Tony Tarantino 35:50
You know, Frank
Brady Speth 35:51
you’ve all seen it. It’s a It’s gorgeous. building it was like I said, I think we you know, everyone has a glass ceiling wherever your things don’t go the direction that you want. It’s no hard feelings. You move on. It’s a big industry people. Hey, we laugh isn’t it? I mean, there’s like recycled there
Tony Tarantino 36:09
so what polo are you wearing this year?
John Piscione 36:10
is a cyclical. I still have shirts from everyone just in case.
Tony Tarantino 36:18
I think I still had POF
Brady Speth 36:21
say that on a podcast with your boss. There you go. Yeah we had to real that one back in.
I haven’t laughed this hard though. Yeah, with any of them.
Tony Tarantino 36:32
Yeah, you’re right
John Piscione 36:32
Riton family has been a it’s nonstop laughing it is. It that makes you know, doing events and hanging out and going to work a lot easier, man when you’re having fun
Tony Tarantino 36:43
you know, what reminded me reminds me of that really, really early period of time before we like, right when they were building the Gun Club. Yeah, it was, it was only like 10 or 12 of us and and that’s what it feels like, hear at Riton. We’re not we’re not blowing your head up. You know,
Brady Speth 36:59
Tony Tarantino 37:02
Don’t worry, we’ll move your the size of your head
Brady Speth 37:05
Christmas bonus time?
Oh, is it?
No, no, honestly, it’s an exciting time to be here. Because you look at the level of growth and what we’ve done. Think about when we just met man, and we’re just about every distributor that I think we can be as far as to set we’re really knocking out of the park with a big box. You know, people like how are you going to become a household name. I think we’re getting there. I mean it Riton is gonna be household names are gonna be like, shit, man, how did this company do this so fast? And I think it’s the great product, you know, being able to deliver the the great sales teams and marketing team that we can
Tony Tarantino 38:03
Put my glasses on
John Piscione 38:04
put your glasses on
Brady Speth 38:09
But I think we I think we’ve just scratched the surface here at Riton.
John Piscione 38:14
Brady Speth 38:15
no, it’s a two way street. The you guys can can suck up to me. But it’s honestly it’s the other way around. And I’ve said that. I don’t even hide that one iota. Like I knew what I was doing to a point. And I was like, shit, I need some help. And, and I think and I just did a podcast, what I guess earlier this week. And we start talking about kind of that growth of a business. And I think it’s interesting. I always laugh because like every person that I’ve met every person that’s been a part of this Riton family, like, it happened for a reason. And I always kind of laugh at that as you look at it, you’re like, we’ve had employees come and go, like every like every other company. But you get they took you to another level, there was a reason that that employee was there. And I always kind of laugh at that, like, geez, I can’t imagine that. At first time. I knocked on doors like do you wanna buy a scope? You know, like, holy cow.
John Piscione 39:01
Like, here’s my Catalog
Brady Speth 39:02
We’ve covered in such a short amount of time, but like, that’s not me. That’s, you know, like, I know my role. And I know what I outgrew my role A long time ago when it came to that stuff. So part of that is, uh, you know, it’s awesome. Having you guys on board with us, you know, I stopped a little bit and kind of look at our team and realize, like, there’s hundreds of years of experiences. I want to do this for like seven years, and hundreds of years of experiences sitting in this in this building. And it’s like, I always kind of comment, like, I don’t deserve to have the team I deserve it, how small Our company is. And I think that’s what that’s what’s kind of been our growth like, you know, I think that’s a huge factor and kind of what you guys have tapped on is like, I see my job at this point is like making this team work together and, and having fun man, I’ve had some shitty jobs. I was military law enforcement grew up on a ranch, shoveling shit, you know, so if I’m not having fun if we’re not having fun, it’s not It can’t be you know, peaches and roses and rainbows. 24 seven, but put in this time, everybody that is in here, but that’s the way it happens. I mean, you know, there’s emotion. There’s everything. When it comes to business when it comes to it, I’d like the fact that, and this goes with across the board to, I’m sure everyone in this room, Chris, over there behind the soundboard. We’ve gotten after everybody. And that’s just because there’s passion behind it. Like, everybody’s done that, but it’s fun because at the end of that, like there’s, you know, that family of like, I still hug you guys every time I see you like it. That’s kind of that thing that you know. And so where we’re going with this is the sky’s the limit, man. I said that the other day on that podcast, and he’s like, what do you see yourself in five years, I was like,
John Piscione 40:28
conquering the world!
Brady Speth 40:29
doing this just bigger, a lot bigger, like, I’m not going anywhere, man. And I said, I kind of laughed cuz I was like my team. I’m up here. I’m like, this is what I’m going to do. It gives me shit about this. I get this all the time from everybody. But I don’t I kind of he I saw a quote, he posted that I said, like, I don’t take my foot off the accelerator. This is where I want to go. It’s your guys’s job to be like, this is reality, right? Because there’s a difference. And that’s why I trust and that’s why the team is amazing. Because if it weren’t for you guys, I’d be I’d be trying to be up here and kind of flailing around. So the
John Piscione 40:59
it takes time
Brady Speth 41:00
man, I love it. So the Okay, you got to explain since the miney things are the guinea things been thrown around here. You guys got to explain this one. Because everybody so I think I’ll show this to you guys. So g is the guinea a complete time. Go for it.
Tony Tarantino 41:15
So we were
Brady Speth 41:17
on a complete change of subject but go for it.
Tony Tarantino 41:19
So we at the armory, our owner when we were at the armory, who is now the still the owner at SGC had started calling Piscione guinea,
John Piscione 41:29
Tony Tarantino 41:30
right, it’s just a remark. And so I I had introduced john to them, that’s how they that’s how they met. I was I was buying a couple things from them. And then I said, Hey, you need to meet them.
John Piscione 41:46
I was living in San Diego at the time.
Tony Tarantino 41:48
So john john moved to Phoenix. He started working for them. And then I started doing the volunteer thing and they’re like so we got a guinea What are we gonna call Tarantino and then somebody one of the guys that we know is like, Hey, how about the mini Guinea and I sort of it’s sort of what
Brady Speth 42:03
20 years later.
it is kind of funny because 20 years of
Tony Tarantino 42:13
walk up here you walk up to a booth and he’s like, hey, youve seen the mini guinea, and their like no I haven’t seen Tarantino anywhere
Brady Speth 42:19
ah went that way.
John Piscione 42:22
Well, you know who mini guinea is, right? I’m like, Yeah,
Yeah, I know who he is.
Brady Speth 42:26
Cuz I’m the big guinea
that messed up. I love it.
John Piscione 42:31
Yeah, yeah, there was a you had had thick skin to work there. I think
Brady Speth 42:34
If you’re, if you’re offended easily
not a place for anyone. Yeah, absolutely.
Tony Tarantino 42:47
It is. It’s a it’s a tough one.
Brady Speth 42:50
it’s a good pick.
It’s gonna be rough.
John Piscione 42:53
hallmarks got a Yeah, hall Mark’s gota job for you
Brady Speth 42:59
Kumbaya, writting postcards.
I mean, a boy. I didn’t know you’re gonna ask for like history. It is in here. I had a ton of stories
yeah a litte into to the guinea and the mini guinea part one. This will be this will be an ongoing one
John Piscione 43:12
you got some whiskey in that coffee.
Lets get this Party rolling.
Brady Speth 43:15
There may be an after hours, part two with these guys. We’ll see how that goes. So all right. So ever since I put a piece of paper in my hand, Tony, Tony has been nervous. He’s been squirming and I just told him it was a blank piece of paper just to make him nervous. But
John Piscione 43:27
I see I see
Tony Tarantino 43:27
fastfire questions here
John Piscione 43:28
I see words on their side, there are words or words.
Brady Speth 43:31
So here’s what we’d like to do to kind of finish it off. Just fun kind of I mean, falling along what we’ve been talking about. That’s what it’s all about. Right? We’re trying to have fun. So we came up with a couple of questions. We’re just gonna let you both just shout out the answer. No thinking about it. There’s there’s rules to this fast fire question part. No thinking about it. First thing that comes to your mind. And you feel free to step over each other and just just say it don’t take Don’t be polite and take turns. Are you guys ready?
John Piscione 43:57
Brady Speth 43:58
All right. And then we’ve got some good ones because we’ve been asking all these everybody this is pretty funny. All right. pretty tame. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Tony Tarantino 44:06
John Piscione 44:10
Id like to see through walls.
Brady Speth 44:13
Oh, yeah. Damn it, Tony.
John Piscione 44:16
That is a super power
Tony Tarantino 44:18
For me it is
Brady Speth 44:19
Tony, all right, Tony won that one we’re not even keeping score?
Oh, God. All right. If you could past present, whatever. Have a beer with one person who would it be?
Tony Tarantino 44:30
John Piscione 44:31
Brady Speth 44:32
I was thinking. I’d like to have a beer with Jesus.
I dont you’d if hed want to but
he might not
already know the answer to this one. This is too easy yet eat one food for the rest of your life. What would it be
Tony Tarantino 44:53
Brady Speth 44:53
I better hear Italian food coming out of both of you
What would the title of your biography be?
Oh they’re thinking,
John Piscione 45:12
Oh, I don’t have a it’s been a It’s been a long journey.
I dont know man
Brady Speth 45:22
All right Come on, Ton.
John Piscione 45:23
Come on man get in there
Tony Tarantino 45:25
I don’t know.
What a little asshole
Brady Speth 45:34
through the eyes of a little as well. All right.
Tony Tarantino 45:37
That’s a tough one.
Brady Speth 45:38
I actually think I know the answer to both of these. But if I put a stack of a million dollars cash in front of you both right now, what’s the first thing you buy?
John Piscione 45:45
Oh, I was gonna say, I’d stab him first.
Brady Speth 45:50
Right now, what are you buying? You’re walking out the door. You’re buying one thing go.
A million doesn’t get you much these days
Tony Tarantino 45:56
Yeah, I know.
John Piscione 46:00
You’d want a helicopter. I’m sure he’d want a helicopter, but its not going to get him there.
Brady Speth 46:04
Tony Tarantino 46:05
I could probably get. Yeah,
Brady Speth 46:06
maybe Robinson or something?
You’re buying a bass boat. I don’t know. I thought you’re just gonna fix up the subi.
Tony Tarantino 46:17
Brady Speth 46:25
I gotta but your chops.
John Piscione 46:28
get a lift on the Subi
Brady Speth 46:29
That we definitely got to go deep.
Tony Tarantino 46:31
It’d be the only the only way to go from Phoenix to Tucson. We could be like 48 minutes,
Brady Speth 46:36
commute in a little R-22
Tony Tarantino 46:38
yeah, it’s fine.
Brady Speth 46:44
what the Robinson just typed up the rubber band sticking
Tony Tarantino 46:47
collective cars on the other side.
Brady Speth 46:50
ah, all right. I like that. We’re definitely having a part two or three or four. Anyways, guys, thanks for thanks for being here. Both you.
Yeah. Many, many years ahead of us. So like it
this was fun. I like where this is headed.
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Riton Optics 47:20
Thank you for listening to the Riton podcast.
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