GRAD SPEAK: Fulfilling the Legacy of the American Minuteman with David Gonyea

  • Drew Poplin

Quitman, Texas, is what many outdoorsmen call a proverbial bass fishing mecca. For cinephiles, it is the home of Carrie actress Sissy Spacek. But for firearms enthusiasts and the citizens of Quitman, there is another group of people making noise with their excellent gun shop.

Established in December 2020, Minuteman Ordnance Company has already received a lot of praise for the quality of its work and its emphasis on creating a communal environment. Last year, Minuteman Ordnance was the recipient of the 2022 Small Business of the Year Award in Quitman. As a business that started forming at the height of a global pandemic, its success is pretty astounding. But for David Gonyea, co-owning a firearms business was not always the plan.


Growing up, he and his brother (and future co-owner), Mike, had a fascination with firearms. As he puts it, “Really, it’s any kid that grows up around guns, but there’s always a draw to the weapon. Prior to firearms, it was the sword. Prior to swords, I guess it was a perfectly shaped stone. I think both of us got that bug early on.”

Like many kids, he had different aspirations and dreams. Some of them were tangible and some were a bit more ambitious. As David jokingly mentions, “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Well, I wanted to play in the NBA, but I stopped growing at five foot eight. So, I knew that wasn’t gonna happen.”


The Minuteman Team


With a career in professional basketball not in the cards, he originally planned to take the well-trodden path of attending college, until an article in the newspaper changed his plans. As he recounts, “One morning, my dad was reading the Wall Street Journal at breakfast. It was the end of my junior year and he was reading the story of Corporal Jason Dunham. It was about a young Marine in Iraq who was conducting a vehicle checkpoint that was ambushed. He got into a hand-to-hand fight with an insurgent there on the side of the road and the insurgent pulled the pin on the grenade. In order to save his fellow Marines, he jumped on that hand grenade, ultimately losing his life. That really stuck with me. In my mind, I couldn’t justify not serving my country when other people were willingly sacrificing their lives for their brothers and sisters in uniform. So, a few weeks later, I joined the delayed entry program and enlisted in the Marine Corps and went to boot camp as soon as I graduated high school.”

After serving his country for thirteen years, Gonyea would go on to work in Hawaii, managing a gym. As it would turn out, however, the mighty Pacific would bring about the winds of change.

SDI Comes into the Picture

Like many who have attended SDI, their first exposure to the school was via social media. Recounting how he became aware of SDI, Gonyea explains, “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember around the time that COVID was kicking off, I started to notice Sonoran Desert Institute really pushing themselves out into the forefront of gunsmithing. And I thought it was interesting because, prior to SDI, the only way you become a gunsmith is through an apprenticeship. You go into some crusty old man’s workshop and you sweep the floor for him for six months, and then maybe he’ll let you touch a gun if you’re deemed worthy. I thought it was really cool that SDI was really trying to bring gunsmithing to the forefront of the digital age.”

When COVID hit, it hit the local businesses of Hawaii hard, and the next thing David knew, he was looking for a job—an opportunity. It was an opportunity that SDI could help provide. Their online format combined with their business class and extensive student resource bank was particularly attractive to Gonyea. So, in March 2020, David enrolled at SDI.

Speaking on SDI’s online format, David mentions that he thought it was great! “I’ve done a lot of online courses in the past and it was very user-friendly. When I needed to get a hold of instructors and/or faculty, it was very easy to do so, which I felt was very important.”

Continuing on about the resources the school offers students and graduates, he expresses, “The resource bank that was provided was phenomenal. I’ve taken online classes in the past at your traditional, university-style [school] and there are not a lot of additional resources past the curriculum that you’re assigned. With something like gunsmithing, it’s incredibly important to have those resources.”

Making Minuteman Ordnance

As David continued his educational journey, he simultaneously embarked on becoming a business owner. Selling almost everything he owned, he teamed up with his brother, Mike, his sister-in-law, Stephanie, and their dog Mayflower, to establish their shop, Minuteman Ordnance, in Quitman. In an article by the Wood County Monitor, they go into detail about why they decided to set up shop in Quitman. The long and the short of it was that the revival of Quitman’s downtown area was very exciting to them.

Now, starting a company while simultaneously going to school certainly takes a level of hard work and commitment. As it turned out, though, it ended up being helpful for David. He explains, “I did really enjoy the business management class, which was actually really helpful and helped me with the proof of concept with this business. We had just gotten this store open when I took that class. We had just started to generate revenue and just got our FFL and we’re just starting to sell guns and just starting to see money come in and it was really interesting to go through that class in particular as I’m starting this business.”

Gonyea would graduate from SDI in January 2021. Now armed with knowledge from industry professionals, he could focus solely on the business. With his brother taking acquisitions duties and operating as the de facto CFO, Stephanie handling logistics, and Mayflower doing what she does best (looking adorable), that left David to handle marketing, advertising, and promotion for the company.

Above: the logo for Minuteman Ordnance.


When it came to deciding on the name, Minuteman Ordnance, David had this to say, “We chose the name of our company for a reason. And what we really wanted to do was bring back a sense of community to small-town America. When Minuteman is mentioned, there are two things that people think about: either an intercontinental ballistic missile or us fighting tyranny against the British Empire. But the concept of the minuteman goes way beyond that. It was communities coming together and helping one another. There was no such thing as 9-1-1 [back] then. People had to self-rescue and whether it was crime or whatever it was, you couldn’t dial 9-1-1. In Colonial America, you had the minuteman. To have individuals that, at a moment’s notice, could assist their community in whatever means that was necessary at that time is really what we want to bring back and instill back into our communities.”

It really is that sense of community, as well as their conviction in the products they sell and their emphasis on educating customers, that truly sets them apart. Speaking further on the sense of community they’ve strived to create, David says, “What we really wanted to do was create a space that is a hangout, right? Because as a male, we’ve lost barbershops, we’ve lost our hardware stores. There’s really not a place for guys to go just hang out. Especially in gun stores because most gun stores now are just big box retail shops. The relationship of gun ownership has really left this market and it is something that we wanted to bring back. So right in the middle of our showroom, we’ve got some lounge chairs and it’s just a spot for us to hang out and talk about guns. Which is, kind of, everybody’s dream.”


Above: Minuteman Ordnance winning Quitman’s 2022 Small Business of the Year Award


Minuteman possesses a strong conviction in the firearms they sell. They desire the best fit for each customer. Speaking on this principle, Gonyea explains, “I don’t consider myself a gun dealer. I like to call myself a gun tailor, right? When someone picks out a firearm, it’s not just, ‘Okay, here’s a Glock because it’s popular.’ It’s, ‘Why do you need this gun? Why do you want this gun? What’s your experience as a shooter? No experience? Why don’t you come and shoot with us before you make any decisions? It’s totally free.’ And we just let people, one, hear where we’re coming from and, two, whether it is something that they’re going to take and utilize. If not, it’s still another tool for their toolbox, and we give them the why and the proof of concept behind it and let them make a really informed decision.”

If you were reading the above quote and thought the word “free” was a typo, you would be mistaken. They really mean it. Growing up sons of two educators, David and Mike certainly value gifting each customer the opportunity to become competent and responsible firearms owners, even if it means that they’re not necessarily making money out of it. Putting their money where their mouth is, they have set up an initiative called “Sunday Gunday.” As Gonyea explains, “We call it Sunday Gunday because it sounds fun and exciting. But what it is designed for is free defensive pistol and defensive car training. It’s designed for anybody who’s never even picked up a firearm before all the way up to grandmaster-level shooters. We’ve had guys from the Marines Special Operations Command out there. Law enforcement, SWAT, you name it. We just want to show some new modern techniques. It’s really taken off. It’s pretty incredible.”

What’s Next for Minuteman Ordnance?

Winning an award within your first year of business certainly is a great start to your company’s journey. But that doesn’t mean that the Gonyeas are resting on their laurels. The company is looking at moving to a permanent location within Quitman. The goal is for the building to resemble an Alamo-style exterior that channels traditional Texas architecture. While rising construction costs have put the project on hold, it is still something that they are looking forward to.

For now, the future is looking bright for the young company. Reflecting on where they are now, the humble David says, “Yeah, we’re thriving a little bit. Most small businesses don’t make it through that first year. I think the next goal is making it to year five and still being successful. That’s the next benchmark. We’re well on our way.”

If you would like to keep up with Minuteman Ordnance, you can give them a follow on social media. They are quite active on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.

To read more stories about SDI graduates like David Gonyea, you can click here to see our whole catalog of “Grad Speak” blogs.

Spread the love