This October will mark 13 years that Paul Glass, SureFire Suppressor Division’s Project Manager, has been employed at SureFire.
The 38-year-old native Californian didn’t start in his current role. Like so many longtime SureFire employees, he learned and earned his way into it. Along the way, he has worked with some of the best people in the industry to parlay his already extensive knowledge of product manufacturing into a position where he wears a lot of hats and bears a lot of responsibility. As one of the Suppressor Division’s long-standing employees, Paul has seen a lot of change at SureFire and in the suppressor market over a relatively short time frame. He’s convinced there will be more to come, but he also knows that SureFire’s core mission will never change. That’s precisely what keeps him motivated every day.
Congrats on your upcoming 13-year anniversary at SureFire. What were you doing before you joined the company?
I worked for my family’s manufacturing business, and then out of college I took a job with a packaging company. It was warehouse/distribution, so it was a little different than I was used to. I was used to having raw materials come in, you turn it into a finished good and then ship it out—the manufacturing process. It was a great company, but it wasn’t for me because they just staged finished products. They didn’t create them. I prefer manufacturing, and SureFire fits that bill.
I feel more at home with a company that not only builds products out of raw materials but also builds quality products. I mean, I wouldn’t be happy at a company that built junk, poor-quality products. That’s not my thing, and that would really eat at me. SureFire is a great fit for me because we build high-precision products that really make a difference and are important in some way or another. The quality that we strive for at SureFire is right in my wheelhouse whereas with other companies maybe not as much.
How did you get onboard?
I was looking for a change of pace, and I heard about SureFire through a family friend. I passed my resume along to Barry Dueck, and I did a couple interviews and was hired. I started on the Suppressor Test Fire team–I think you did an interview with Jeremy Redding, who is on that team. Then I learned the process of building by working on the line, and I started to understand how all these components went together to make a suppressor before going out and test-firing them.
I’ve always been into guns, but never to the level of someone like Barry. So, I was trying to learn all that in the first four years of running Test Fire. Then as people left, I kind of took over packaging and other things to create a whole position where I oversaw Test Fire, packaging and vault locating. I was able to use those opportunities to grow in the company. I reported to our Operations Manager at the time, but then Barry offered me a position to do R&D. I understood the basics by then, but in R&D I started to see the practical application of SureFire suppressors beyond just testing them on a rail gun. I saw how they affect various weapon systems and vice versa. I worked with Barry, and Mike Voigt, and those guys were a wealth of knowledge. Barry still is. Sadly, we lost Mike in 2018. I’ll never know as much as either of them.
Based on your training and experience, how would you describe SureFire suppressors to a customer in 10 words or less?
That’s easy. I’d say SureFire suppressors are “the complete package.” They do everything they are supposed to do without any negative impact on the weapon system in terms of accuracy, repeatability, sound attenuation, and dust signature reduction.
People who know you know that you’re an outspoken proponent of American-made products. SureFire not only manufactures right here in the U.S.A., but it sources almost all its raw materials here. That must be a positive aspect of the job as well.
That’s big, and I’m glad you brought that up. Personally, I believe that if we can build our products here and source our products here, that isn’t just good for us, it’s good for our country. That’s why I buy American cars—Ford, Chevy, Dodge… There’s nothing wrong with foreign cars. It’s just that I choose to spend my money with American companies. That’s how I was raised. My family had a small business, and we always had American cars and American-built everything. Again, I have nothing against people who choose to buy foreign cars—and if you want to give me a Lamborghini, I’ll take it! [laughs] I just try to keep my money under the American umbrella if I can.
So, give us a rundown of your current day-to-day responsibilities.
Where I am right now is that I deal with a bunch of things. I still do R&D, I work on RMAs (warranty claims), and I help with product management. We have people who are more knowledgeable in all those roles, but maybe I have historical knowledge that’s beneficial to them because they weren’t here 12 or 13 years ago. I come in with product knowledge beyond the current and customer knowledge beyond the current.
What do you like to do to decompress from the day-to-day? Any cool hobbies?
Some. I’m a big motorsports guy. I grew up in it since day one, with dirtbikes, quads, off-road cars, and sand rails. I didn’t really know anything else. I love off-roading and going to the sand dunes when the weather cools off. I also love motorized watersports when the weather is warmer—you know, boats, jet skis, and the like. My kids love it, and my wife and I enjoy spending time with the families that go out with us. I will say there are cheaper hobbies, but my parents got me into this one…without giving me the money to do it. That’s fine. I’ve forgiven them. [laughs] One thing I’ve found is that a lot of motorsports guys are firearms guys and vice versa. It’s almost a given.
You’ve said your wife is an off-roader, too?
Yeah, but she didn’t grow up with the off-road stuff. She grew up hiking and tent camping. Me, I’m too bougie for tent camping. If it doesn’t have satellite TV and a memory foam bed, I’m not going. [laughs] She’s been able to adapt to the way I do it. [laughs]
Speaking of your parents, in your family business you obviously grew up learning machining and spending a lot of time around machinists. Be honest, how does SureFire’s crew stack up?
Our guys are amazing, far more impressive than I could ever be. To do some of the cuts they make, and the order of operations they follow, and hold the tolerances that they hold, that’s an art. It must’ve taken them 40 years of learning to be able to do that.
Are there any overarching changes you’ve noticed since you joined SureFire?
The biggest changes I’ve seen have involved keeping up with changing technology or introducing new technology to make our suppressors better. We’re always looking at new alloys, and new welding technologies such as going from TIG welding to fusion orbital welding to laser welding, creating better welds faster. We’re always trying to improve the manufacturing process as well as the product itself. We just keep getting better with age because we learn more and more. We have a great team of engineers that comes up with new ideas and new ways to do things. That part is entertaining.
So, what’s the most rewarding aspect of the job for you?
Probably just getting good quality products out the door and knowing that SureFire stands behind them all the way. Manufacturing is manufacturing, and nothing is going to be perfect 100 percent of the time. But even when dealing with RMAs, it is gratifying to hear our customers praise SureFire for not only building good product but also standing behind it no matter what. It’s rewarding when they thank you for that and recommend your products to family and friends.
We build the best for the best, and when you come in every day, you don’t know where that suppressor going out the door is headed. It could be going to a single end-user in Nebraska, or it could be going to a member of the U.S. military or a NATO ally. Every one of them matters. It’s nice just to know that you’re coming in every day and building the best for a reason.
For more information on SureFire suppressors and related products, visit SureFire.com.