After a gun salesman’s death, the future of a Ravenna tactical supply company is in flux

Ravenna City Hall. Ben Wolford/The Portager

The owner of a Ravenna tactical supply equipment company has died, leaving city leaders to wrestle with paperwork.

On Feb. 28, 2023, Ravenna’s Planning Commission approved Arthur C. Hrdlicka’s request for a conditional use permit to operate his home-based tactical supply equipment business, Portage Tactical, at 339 N. Prospect St.

Hrdlicka lived at the home with his then-fiance Cari Ann Weber, whom he wed in July.

To gain approval for his business, Hrdlicka told city leaders he planned to operate as a drop shipper, selling survival and tactical gear, as well as guns. Though his ATF license allowed him to sell weapons from his home, he told planning commission members he would only do so in rare circumstances.

The February vote was a tie, which by city charter rules was broken in Hrdlicka’s favor by Mayor Frank Seman.

Typically, drop shipping starts with the seller (in this case Portage Tactical) signing an agreement with the drop shipper. In this instance, that included numerous wholesale suppliers. Customers would order online. Portage Tactical would take the orders and provide the customers with order confirmations.

Portage Tactical would then forward the order to the supplier, who would ship the order to the customer.

After Hrdlicka’s death on Sept. 7, Ravenna Law Director Frank Cimino advised city leaders that the license the city granted to Hrdlicka is now invalid and should be revoked. He also recommended that city leaders notify the ATF of the revocation.

Backed by City Council President Andrew Kluge and member Amy Michael, the Planning Commission agreed on Sept. 26, and said they will notify not only the ATF but also Hrdlicka’s family members.

Commission member Carmen Laudato, who voted against Hrdlicka receiving his conditional use permit in February, said she and her colleagues were shocked to learn they could not put stipulations on such permits, even when Hrdlicka indicated he would also be building or modifying weapons at his home.

Laudato said on Sept. 26 that Ravenna “needs to think about what the city’s image is going to be, and what we will tolerate in our neighborhoods. Gun sales out of our homes does not fit. This is not the type of home business we should be allowing.”

Describing herself as a gun supporter, Laudato said businesses such as Hrdlicka’s belong in the downtown business district, not in residential neighborhoods.

Portage Tactical’s website remains live, but attempts to reach the company by phone or email were unsuccessful. Hrdlicka’s widow, Cari Ann Weber-Hrdlicka, said one of Hrdlicka’s daughters plans to take over the business, but declined to specify which of his three daughters might do so.

Should any of the daughters decide to keep the business going, they will have to go through the same ATF and city planning approval process their father did, Kluge said.

Neither Weber-Hrdlicka nor any other family members attended Tuesday’s meeting.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.