Behind the Scenes With Leapers

For more than 30 years, Leapers has been making optics and firearms accessories, investing in technology and building a brand.

Behind the Scenes With Leapers

Tactical Retailer spoke with David Ding, CEO of Leapers, about how the company got started, its place in the industry, where it sees the industry heading, what products best fit consumer needs today, and more.


TR: Can you talk about the company’s history and its place in the industry today?

DD: To talk about how Leapers came about, it would help to talk a bit about our personal history. My wife, Tina, and I were police officers in Taiwan for 10 years. In 1984, we came to the States for graduate studies. Our career took a turn when we were hired by Ford Motor Company. We worked there for another 10 years as software engineers and experienced the tremendous automotive landscape transformation during the period. I still personally drive a Ford to this day!

In the early ’90s, we started “dreaming” about applying what we learned at Ford and building something of our own with distribution and personalized services catered to other businesses. Hence Leapers was born in 1992, becoming our biggest career change and, ideally, our last! We leaped into learning optics technology, its applications, and its significance within the firearms and sporting industry.

From the garage of our home to our four-building complex in Livonia, Michigan, today, more than three decades have passed. During this time, we first worked to survive, focusing on the overall horizontal integration of expanding into different product categories to supply as many accessories as one may possibly need in the shooting and hunting sports. The second phase of living our dream was investing in the vertical integration of developing our own core technologies and products from A to Z. Today, we have three manufacturing plants, with one in our very own hometown in Michigan, with successfully integrated global product distribution. Our brands include our latest premier optics brand INTEGRIX, Michigan-made UTG PRO, our mid-tier optics brand ACCUSHOT PRO, and, of course, our grassroots brand, UTG.


TR: What sets Leapers apart?

DD: We pride ourselves in being a go-to hunting and shooting sports solution provider. Our strength is not just in our R&D, nor just in our production capabilities, but in our multi-national, fully integrated, concept-to-delivery organization. We have real people on our customer service team to pick up the phone and listen to and answer our customers’ wants and needs. We have knowledgeable and resourceful engineers working with industry partners in turning novel ideas into reality to bring to shooters of all experiences and disciplines.

Also worth mentioning is our commitment to making products in the USA. Our Michigan plant was built in 2009 and has made great progress with its UTG PRO® branded products. To further this goal, a 100-yard state-of-the-art indoor shooting range was completed right next door in 2021. Currently underway is a third building expansion dedicated to our USA-made optics and dot sights division.

Upholding our commitment to “Global Distribution, Local Service” are our international channels, UTG Europe in Germany and UTG Taiwan. The two are instrumental in providing prompt and professional service-minded support within their regions of the globe. Customers worldwide, you are in good hands.


TR: What specific product or model have you seen the most growth in recently?

DD: The initial production run of our first premier INTEGRIX optic, our iX8 1-8X28 FFP LPVO, has already been accounted for by several of our more eager customers. With the positive feedback and number of preorders we received after debuting the INTEGRIX both at SHOT and IWA, we expect a great momentum and growth from this new premier optics series.

We also recently released a new dot sight, the ACCU-SYNC 2521R. They just started shipping a few months back, and dealer reception is positive, with an uptick of orders for this specific SKU. With its straightforward feature set, reliable performance, and price point, the 2521R is a highly competitive dot sight offering. The above puts our optics category of products at the top in terms of growth.


TR: Have the ongoing supply chain problems translated into supply issues in your corner of the industry as well?

DD: Supply chain management is critical and requires long-term strategies, attention, assessment and disciplined approaches for healthy business growth and management. It simply got more challenging and exacerbated during the COVID pandemic. Fortunately, our Michigan manufacturing operations and UTG PRO® product line made the impact of COVID significantly less from a SCM standpoint. This of course was beneficial not only for us, but also for our suppliers, dealers and business partners. Together we were able to endure. There is no denying the strength and benefits of our hometown operations and the employees that keep it running smoothly.

Concurrently, sensing the changing atmosphere in global trade, we strategically began the construction of our R&D and Manufacturing Center in Taiwan, which started its operation in 2018. The timing and execution were crucial. UTG Taiwan is instrumental to our global strategy and plays a critical role in our supply chain to meet U.S. and international demand for quality shooting sports-related products. The efforts put into this multi-prong approach allowed a level of self-reliance in dealing with the supply chain issue that continues to affect almost all industries, not just ours.


TR: Do you have any predictions on what we can expect out of the shooting industry in general in the next year? The next five years?

DD: From what trends we are seeing, an uptick in international sales for the aftermarket. International inquiries are increasing about our current products and development and fabrication of parts, accessories, optics, etc. that are specific to their country’s needs or small arms.

As new technologies are studied and experimented more in this industry, and become more affordable, I look forward to innovations that integrate communication interfaces with firearms, onboard and/or external. These innovations have potentials to achieve better firearm handling control and aiming precision.


TR: Where does Leapers see potential for growth? How about non-growth? Is there part of the industry that’s shrinking?

DD: We are primarily focusing on higher-tier professional-grade optics, dot sights, and billet upper and lower receivers with an emphasis on customer-centric service and support. We see this segment of the marketplace as having the most growth potential for Leapers and our premier-level product releases. Today, shooters have access to some of the best resources regarding training and product information. When it comes time to spend their hard-earned cash, they are much more equipped and well-informed in getting exactly what they are looking for. I would simply say the industry is delivering more options to everyone, and that’s exactly what our lifestyle needs.


TR: What can we expect out of Leapers in the second half of 2023? What products have you most excited for the future?

DD: In the optics category, we are very excited about the INTEGRIX brand premier optics, new generation ACCUSHOT PRO optics, and new ACCUSYNC open reflex sights and dot sights.

The INTEGRIX Optics use German SCHOTT and Japan Ohara glasses. They are all designed with tremendous field of view, allowing for maximum sight picture, extremely clear edge-to-edge image quality, consistent 3.6-inch to 3.8-inch eye relief and pupil footprints to avoid blackout image. Plus, they offer over 92% overall light transmission to make the target image even much more visible under starlight. All these optimized features allow shooters to quickly identify their target, aim at center and, with peripheral clarity as well, stay on target and shoot quickly and accurately in all weather, terrain and light conditions. The INTEGRIX optics families cover LPVO for competition, sports, driven hunt, homeland protection and LE use, mid-power range for stalking and hunting wildlife, and LR/ELR optics for precision shooting, marksmanship competition and sniper applications.

The experiences we acquired and lessons learned from designing and making INTEGRIX optics are being applied to our mid-tier ACCUSHOT PRO line and the ACCUSYNC open reflex sights and dot sights. Our customers can definitely anticipate outstanding performance from these lines.

Last but not least is our made-in-the-USA UTG PRO billet upper and lower receivers. They are constructed from billet 7075-T6 aluminum and finished in a matte black type III class II hard coat anodize. Two lowers will be available to choose from — one that features a standard battery of arms like that of a mil-spec forged lower and the other featuring a true ambidextrous design.


TR: How does Leapers support its dealers?

DD: Customer service has always been a major focus in our operations from day one. I still remember Tina sitting in our home basement talking to customers on the phone and tirelessly returning faxes (no emails then!). Today, we have teams of people in Michigan, Germany and Taiwan providing “the best never rest” support real time or electronically. Our products are backed up by a lifetime warranty. During the worst of COVID, we continued to maintain operations, made extra efforts to ship products in a timely manner, and reached out to customers weekly.

We additionally reach out to customers through in-person store visits, interactions, and personalized services and support tailored to their individual VOC. We initiated our brand ambassador program for product application demonstrations and customer engagement activities.


TR: Do you have any advice for retailers about selling optics and accessories and Leapers products specifically?

DD: Today’s consumers are all well informed and very experienced in selecting brands and products. Pertinent and well-targeted product information is necessary in facilitating consumer choices. We listen to our customers very closely to align with the consumers’ need for retailers to meet and exceed their expectations. That is how you get return business. Our job is to continuously enhance the versatility of our product content so that it works for e-commerce, storefront, and gun show retailers alike. Accessibility in general and training is also important.


TR: What’s your personal favorite Leapers product, and why?

DD: As I explained about our history, Tina and I created Leapers from ground zero! People often ask us what “Leapers” means. We would jokingly answered, “We are a bunch of LEAPERS making quantum LEAPS!” Over the years, we indeed leaped from the first 4x28 mini scope to today’s 600-some products. Every one of them is a favorite child of ours!

Optics are where we started. I do feel most passionate about the category and its core technology. I am most grateful that we have established internal know-how and skills in optical design, its precision measurements, performance benchmarking and most professional testing and certification. We will continue to push for optimization and product excellence to set great foundations for future decades.

We are also proud of the company’s great traditions and experiences in precision firearm accessories and upgrade parts for weapon platforms. Recent introductions include billet AR upper and lower receivers and our MP5 monolithic handguard, both of which have already received very positive feedback and strong interest.


TR: Is there anything you’d like retailers to know about Leapers and its products?

DD: We are grateful for the support we’ve received over the past three decades. We are living our American dream. Leapers is a welcoming and inviting business family with tremendous commitment toward providing a quality hunting and shooting sports lifestyle. We will continue to listen to the voice of the customers and industry experts around the world to make positive contributions for decades to come.



Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.