Success in the American tradition demands the qualities of motivation, determination, willingness to sacrifice, hard work, timing and a true element of luck. Even in our modern times of high taxation, escalating costs, and governmental regulation, it is still possible for the “common man” to become successful if he has a good idea and most or all of these qualities.

The Hodgdon Companies, as they exist today, are an example of this tradition. Until he began the surplus powder business, Bruce Hodgdon was a salesman for the Gas Service Company, traveling local territory selling gas appliances. From a few dollars borrowed on the cash value of his life insurance policy has evolved a manufacturing and distributing company that has customers in all 50 states and many foreign countries.

All his life Bruce Hodgdon was interested in shooting, hunting, and reloading. He custom-loaded ammunition for friends during World War II while he was in the Navy and after, while working full time as a salesman for the Gas Service Company. Somewhere Bruce had heard that the government burned huge stocks of surplus powder after WWI because of the lack of market for them, and he figured that the same would be true after hostilities ended in 1945.

Even though he had no place to store gunpowder, and did not know if enough shooters would gamble to purchase unknown types of propellant, Bruce cut government red tape and soon owned 50,000 pounds of government surplus 4895. An old boxcar moved to a rented farm pasture served as the first magazine, the first one-inch ad placed in the American Rifleman, and Bruce was in business.

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