Erie, PA – Service disabled Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Tim Foor recently turned his lifelong love of firearms and the shooting sports into a home-based business, Foor Gunsmithing, a firearm repair, maintenance, customization, and restoration company.
Foor was raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River, just outside of Pittsburgh. A true country boy, farming, hunting, and guns were his main hobbies. He was interested in all things military. He had several uncles who served with combat units in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He romanticized the military through movies, TV and stories and it became a curious longing. The Vietnam War had come to an end in the early 70’s and he started a family, so his hopes for a military experience faded.
In 1977, Foor completed his technical training and started his first “real job” as a drafter/designer. Shortly after, the company was sold and he found himself in a layoff. At twenty-two years old, in 1978, and with two young children to support, a civilian life was important. He wanted to be present for his children, but the military could offer a great future!
“I had a lot of time on my hands, so I walked. A lot. While wandering around town one day, I found myself in the National Guard office,” he said.
They guided him through the process and he joined as a traditional reservist. After his initial training, he spent one weekend per month and two weeks per summer training with the Guard. His reserve status allowed him to have both a civilian life and a military career.
In 1983 Foor attended the Massachusetts Military Academy for Officer Training. He studied at Quincy Junior College and received his Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Anna Maria College.
In 2000, Foor joined the Guard as an Active Duty officer.
Foor was deployed on two combat missions, one to Kosovo and one to Iraq. In Kosovo, He worked in the brigade headquarters as the Deputy G3, Assistant Operations Officer. He was responsible for coordinating and managing the assets and resources of the brigade. He helped develop plans and operations, and had a hand in the “behind the scenes.” While deployed to Iraq, he was assigned as a Battalion Executive Officer and Managed battle tracking and oversight of all operational, logistical and personnel functions within the Battalion Headquarters.
Foor retired in 2012 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Fully decorated with the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and the Kosovo and Iraq Campaign Medals, you’d think transitioning back to civilian life would be a breeze. It has been anything but that. Foor is labeled as a service disabled veteran and suffers from back, hip, knee, shoulder and feet problems as well as nerve damage and hearing loss.
“It has been a tough transition…at 57 years old, there were not a lot of people looking to hire me, ” he said. “I sent hundreds of resumes out. I was either over qualified, too old, under qualified–you name it. I couldn’t find a position anywhere.”
Because he was fifty-seven years old, and based on the laws, Foor was not eligible for retirement benefits. You can’t tap your pension until you are 60 years old. Although he was receiving a very little check from his disability compensation, it was not enough to live off of. His family resorted to living off of credit cards. He needed a job.
He spent one year working for a friend, manufacturing specialty garage doors, but just wasn’t satisfied. All of his life, he wanted to own his own business. Call the shots. Make the plans. Be successful.
With his experience and education in engineering, mechanics and business, combined with his lifelong passion in firearms, he dreamed of opening a small gunsmith shop.
“As a disabled veteran, I knew that there were resources available to me,” he said. He spent much time researching his options and working closely with the VA. The VA hooked him up with the VA Accelerator Program, which kick started his business plans. This program is the Department of Veterans Affairs’ innovation to help Veterans in all phases of entrepreneurship, from initial self-assessment and business plan preparation through the launch and growth of successful businesses. He received substantial training as well as assistance with a business plan. They even helped him connect with a local Small Business Development Center, and provided the funding necessary for Foor to attend the American Gunsmithing Institute.
In October 2015, Foor opened his home-based business, Foor Gunsmithing. Foor Gunsmithing provides consistently superior craftsmanship and exceptional customer service to meet the expectations and desires of firearms owners and sportsmen in North Western Pennsylvania, by executing quality firearm repair, maintenance, customization, accurization, and restoration.
Foor is a Certified 1911 Pistolsmith, Certified AR-15/M4 Riflesmith, Certified Glocksmith, and Certified Cowboy Action Armorer. Foor caters to the specific interests of his customers and provides unique services that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
“I love working on fabrication and customization,” he said. “Others don’t like to get involved with custom guns or older guns, and I love it. A lot of the older guns you can’t get parts for anymore. I will make the parts you can’t find. I’ll take something plain Jane, and turn it into something special.”
Foor’s passion for his business and his customers radiates. While new to this type of business, Foor’s military experience with weapons and craftsmanship go hand-in-hand with his new venture. In addition to gunsmith training and certification, Foor is a trained mechanical designer with machine shop experience; as well as being an avid woodworker.
These skills, combined with a business management degree and a lifetime of leadership experience, have prepared him to understand his customers, the weapons, and the techniques required to exceed any firearm request.
“Eventually, I’d like to move [the business] from my home to a storefront,” he said. “I’d love to inspire an interest in my family to make Foor Gunsmithing a family business that grows into something much bigger while still maintaining its roots.”
Foor dreams of growing his client base to build his reputation as the best gunsmith in the field and best shop on the market.
If you would like to get in touch with Foor visit his website at www.foorgunsmithing.com or call 814-722-2248. Foor holds a Type 01, Federal Firearms License (FFL), State Firearms License, and is fully insured.
The VA Accelerator Program (www.vaaccelerator.com) allowed Foor’s dreams to become achievable. The program is currently in the process of raising capital to be able to give back to more veterans. If you are interested in helping with this process, you can directly visit the campaign page at www.aboutgiving.org.