Engineering chief combines professional skills and a passion for hunting to develop products for a growing company – SiouxFalls.Business

September 21, 2022

This paid coin is sponsored by Silencer Central.

Growing up on a farm south of Letcher, Lukas VanLaecken learned to find the tools he needed to get the job done.

“You had to be resourceful, whether it was finding ways to fix equipment or putting things together or finding new ways to do a job,” he said.

And, like many South Dakotans, the way of life has also led him to love hunting.

“All my life,” VanLaecken said. “My family hunts a bit of everything – whitetail deer, pheasant and duck are the main ones.”

But he never thought his engineering degree from the South Dakota School of Mines would allow him to work for a fast-growing company in the gun industry in his home state. .

“I was focusing more on automotive or aerospace, but when this job came up, it was a no-brainer to be entering a field where a passion outside of my job was also,” he said. he declares.

VanLaecken joined Silencer Central as a manufacturing engineer in early 2021. He was promoted to chief manufacturing engineer about a year later, then director of engineering, and in May he became line director. company procurement and engineering.

Although he didn’t use silencers while hunting before joining the Sioux Falls-based silencer maker, he quickly gained an appreciation for them.

“It really changed my whole perspective,” he said. “I’ll probably never shoot without one now that I’ve done it. For me, initially, the biggest advantage was being able to film without hearing protection. And I have kids – my eldest daughter is 10 – and seeing the ability for her to fire a high powered rifle and not have too much recoil because of the silencer was a really good thing to see.

Over the past year, he’s put his engineering skills to good use and helped develop Silencer’s newest product: the Banish Backcountry.

“We had a lot of feedback from customers that they were looking for something lighter and shorter for hunting and they didn’t want to carry a big suppressor on longer hunts,” he said. “So we decided to develop something really specific to these users. They could put it on their gun and barely recognize it was there, and they wouldn’t mind.

We sat down with VanLeacken to learn more about his experience at Silencer.

You oversee both engineering and the supply chain. What does the whole role entail?

At the start of 2022, I took over engineering – we have two other people on the team with me – and soon after I also took over supply chain, which covers our teams of purchase and supply for our products, our suppressors, our accessories and what we use for daily business. I oversee this, and this includes shipping and receiving, our warehouse team, all incoming products and the suppressors we ship. We also have a threading service that we offer to thread guns, and I oversee that as well.

What do you like about working at Silencer Central?

Really from day one, it was just being able to see the vision that our founder, Brandon Maddox, had for the company, the entrepreneurial vision that we’re going to continue to grow every year exponentially and at a very rapid rate. It got me excited and being able to have an immediate impact on change and improvements. It’s been really rewarding for me, and the respect that Brandon and the management team have given employees to make the right decisions and move the business forward.

What was it like launching the Backcountry?

It’s a bit different from our current products, so we did a lot of research into design features that would help us make it smaller and lighter but just as effective. I lead the engineering team, but the rest of the team and other members of the organization really helped refine key features, and from there we worked with our manufacturers to develop prototypes that we could test. We tested several variations and narrowed down the most efficient and effective. We went through eight iterations before landing on the final design that performed best.

Who is the Backcountry for?

Anyone who hunts big game or uses a .30 caliber rifle or somewhere around there, this is a great choice. Or if you’re going on a longer backpacking hunt, that’s where it’s specifically designed, but because it’s so small and light, it also appeals to non-hunters looking for something that reduces sound but is easy to maneuver when shooting.

I know you just launched a product, but are you planning more?

Yes. While I was here, we launched two products last year that were more traditional suppressors and this one in the next two months, and we’re working on two more that could launch in 2023. It was fun because that I’ve been able to hang out with some of our industry influencers and chat with them about what they’re looking for or see coming into the industry and chat with them about opportunities and build those relationships. Many of the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and chat with are people I’ve followed on social media or seen on TV.

What would you say to someone else considering working at Silencer?

Wherever you are within the Silencer Central organization, there are always plenty of opportunities for advancement, whether in the same function or role or elsewhere within the company. There’s always room for expansion and growth, and that’s something very exciting for me, and I think a lot of people would like that. Every person in this business has a direct role or relationship to the success of the business. So really, you can see the impact of what you do on a day-to-day basis, and it’s rewarding.

Interested in joining the Silencer Central team? It’s growing, so there are always new opportunities. For a list of current openings, click here.