Retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Dan Hanusis now a custom rifle production manager for Bergara. (Courtesy of Bergara)
Retired Marine Master Sgt. Dan Hanus readily credits the leadership and technical skills he developed over 22 years of active duty as the keys to his successful transition to the private sector, where he now leads a team that builds custom hunting rifles for a major manufacturer.
Hanus’ transition from active duty to custom rifle production manager for Bergara, a company known for making high quality barrels for sporting firearms, began when he attended a career fair in Iowa sponsored by Brownells, a leading retailer of sporting supplies and equipment.
Bergara is a subsidiary company of BPI Outdoors, which also owns the brands CVA, PowerBelt Bullets, Quake Industries and DuraSight Scope Mounts.
Hanus said he joined the Marine Corps because he wasn’t ready for college and “needed self-direction.” He began his military career as a small arms repairman, eventually moving into the precision weapons repairman field before wrapping up at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. There, he served as production chief and chief instructor for the Precision Weapons Section, including production of the M40A5 sniper rifle, the Enhanced Marksmanship Rifle and the M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol.
We spoke with Hanus, also a hunter and competitive shooter, in Las Vegas at the 2013 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades Show — SHOT Show — and got his take on his Marine Corps career and life after retirement.
What were the best parts of that last job at Quantico?
Returning to a school I attended and making impacts to the program of instruction by serving as the chief instructor.
Why did you retire?
I had been a Marine for 22 years. I joined at 18 years of age, and I was ready to do something else.
Did you always think you'd be looking at a position such as the one you now have?
Precision weapons repairmen are highly sought-after for the skill sets gained. I hoped to land a job like I have. I thought I would end up a government contractor in the Quantico area; however, that was not my first choice.
What helped you prepare for the move to the private sector?
The Brownells career fair I attended helped me realize how sought-after my skill sets really were. The [transition] office on base was also a great help. I was working toward a business management degree through American Military University and continue today.
Was making the transition from active-duty Marine to civilian work difficult?
Transition is ongoing; however, there are more similarities than differences. I use my leadership experience the most. It is amazing how many lack it in the civilian sector and how others are drawn to you because you possess it.
Do you work with any former military people in your new job?
I just hired a former Marine who served under me at my last duty station. He will also be working on Bergara custom rifles.
What do you like best about your new job and working in the private sector?
The relaxed atmosphere and status. With me being a retired marine, everyone in my company has respect and appreciation for what Marines do, so that makes working here much more enjoyable that if I worked, for example, as a contractor in Virginia where more than half the population is former military.
What do you miss about active duty?
Training with the Marines, PT, deployments and 96’s [four-day weekends, usually in conjunction with a major holiday].
What’s your main goal for the Bergara Custom Rifles?
Build the best long-range rifles on the market. My personal favorite is the BCR15-300WSM Long Range Hunter in .300 Winchester Short Magnum.
You recently attended your first SHOT Show as an exhibitor. What was that like?
I had attended before, but as an attendee. Working was not nearly as much fun, and I didn’t get to see all the show had to offer due to show booth requirements.
Any retirement regrets?
I have not regretted retiring a single day, nor do I regret serving in the Marine Corps for 22 years.
What advice would you have for fellow Marines preparing to transition to the civilian sector?
Do the research, get a good résumé, and attend and complete transition classes.