Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.

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Post by ARMARIN » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:37 am

Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.

Eibar, Guipuzcoa in the Basque region of Spain has been a center of weapons development and manufacture for centuries — and the entire Bajo Deva region. "Spanish steel" traditionally is a great selling point, for its quality, durability and edge. When firearms came into being, Eibar retained its edge as a weapons center. The oldest known ancestor of the Star lineage is Jose Cruz Echeverria, who made muzzle-loading firearms at the end of the 19th century. His wife's family, the Orbeas, had long been involved in numerous manufacturing ventures as well as the manufacture of revolvers.

The 1990s were bad for defense companies all over the world. For the most part, companies in smaller markets either found their niche and flourished (Diemaco), or slowly perished. In Spain Star, Astra and CETME met their end.
While Star introducted modern technology and manufacturing methods, including aluminum frames, plastics, and a selective double-action, double-column series of pistols, management crises and poor understanding of the new EU open markets led to reduced sales and profitability.
The final years at Star saw a relative flurry of new models, and court challenges over restructuring plans and massive layoffs.
Much of the descent was too slow to have perhaps noticed at the time. In 1975 the factory employed 411 workers, but this had slowly decended to to 141 in 1993. A plan was forumlated which would have cut half of those workers immediately, but this fell through.
Star filed for bankruptcy protection in late 1993 after taking out loans to invest in new CNC machinery. They were indirectly affected by the Asian economic crisis; Spanish banks tried to cover Asian investment losses by turning the screws on those nearby companies owing them money, like Star. Star and Astra began cooperative investment and discussions of mergers in the mid 90s, but Astra was not in much better shape, so this eventually dragged both companies down.
I heard numerous rumours around this time that a large foreign cooperative, like Beretta, would snap them up, as they did with Sako. This was not to be however (and really doesn't make sense from a product line point of view).
Employees of both companies, through their unions I believe, tried to set up a cooperative to take control of the companies. They planned to upgrade operations again, but also ran into trouble overextending themselves financially, and eventually these organizations also sought protection under bankruptcy laws.
On May 27, 1997 both Star and Astra closed their doors, and were placed in the Spanish equivalent of Chapter Seven bankruptcy, under the control of a Basque regional judge. Eventually, an agreement was reached that settled sufficient outstanding debt, and allowed some of the machinery and the intellectual property to be resurrected in two new companies. Much machinery was also sold at auction to pay debtors. Apparently all unassembled or unsold barrels and frames were destroyed by government order when the company closed. Unregistered parts were retained and seem to still be available thru Ipar (see below).
Star and Astra combined into one company under the ASTAR name, with a new factory, which manufactures a range of new firearms.
Another facet of the company was allowed to continue under the name Ipar Guns. They make a small number of custom weapons, conduct DEWATS on others, and provide a range of parts and gunsmithing services on Star and Astra pistols. Or at least, they used to. I am not entirely clear on what the status is,

(Used - Who makes what in gunland - Wegener Press 2014)


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