Newport helmet manufacturing facility plans to double workforce
Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) and US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Tuesday said Revision Military’s plans to double the helmet manufacturer’s workforce from 40 to 80 by the end of the year is achieving “a great turnaround” for a facility that was on the ropes only six months ago. The assessment of the facility came as the pair announced that Revision had begun work on a new $21.6 million contract for more than 90,000 new helmets.
Revision Military CEO Jonathan Blanshay told Shumlin and Leahy that the new $21.6 million contract with the Department of Defense (DOD) and existing orders with the DOD and other customers will require the firm to hire additional staff, with the aim of more than doubling the 40-person firm to 80 employees by the end of the year.
In June Shumlin and Leahy announced Revision Military of Essex had purchased MSA North America’s combat helmet division, ensuring that the approximately 40 employees working at the plant would continue making Advanced Combat Helmets (ACH) – the lightweight, life-saving helmet worn by most of the country’s soldiers – for the foreseeable future.
Blanshay said: “Integration of the Newport facility into Revision is going very well and the plant is extremely busy ramping up manufacturing of the helmets to fulfill this contract. It is rewarding to see the plant fully operational with additional employees who are making top quality helmets to help keep our soldiers safe. We appreciate all the Senator’s office and the State have done to help us accomplish this is a very short time frame.”
Shumlin said: “This is more great news for Newport. Our team worked closely with Revision, Senator Leahy’s office and the City to ensure that this project would be successful, and now nearly 40 jobs are being kept and another 40 will be created. This is further proof that Vermont is a great place to do business.”
Shumlin led an effort by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC), the Vermont Training Program, and the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to support the MSA-Revision deal. The deal included an initial approval of a $743,000 cash incentive from VEPC, participation from VEDA, and hours of technical assistance.
Leahy said: “The men and women here in Newport have been making helmets that save soldiers’ lives for more than a decade. Today Revision Military has not only given these Vermonters a chance to continue doing that, but it looks like they are on the way to hiring as many as another 40 Vermonters by the end of the year.”
Leahy said he worked with the Department of Defense to ensure the new contract was released, which Blanshay said was critical to making the original deal between MSA and Revision work. In remarks in Newport Tuesday, Leahy told employees that the DOD had originally planned to hold off on ordering 180,000 new helmets – despite the fact that the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles procurement for the DOD, recommended ordering new ACHs. Leahy said he convinced the agency to place the order, split between Revision and another manufacturer, in order to make sure that troops have the gear they need, while also ensuring that people in Newport have the work they need.
Leahy has been one of the strongest advocates for both Revision and then-MSA. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Defense Subcommittee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing the annual Defense Department budget, Leahy worked with MSA to develop and field the ACH by securing more than $10 million in research, development and procurement contracts for MSA. He has also worked with Revision Military to secure millions in military contracts for research, development and procurement of Revision’s protective eyewear. But Leahy said the announcement he made in July 2011, a $2 million contract between the Army and Revision to develop a next-generation helmet system, was at the heart of the MSA-Revision deal.
During Tuesday’s visit, former state legislator Mike Metcalf told those gathered how his son’s life was saved by a helmet made in Newport while he was serving as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army in Iraq.
Metcalf said: “Vermont can be proud of the public and private sector efforts of Senator Leahy, Governor Shumlin and Revision CEO Jonathan Blanshay to keep this plant and these people working. Our young men and women on the front lines are getting the very best protection the nation can provide, produced by people who care, in a state we all value. On behalf of my son and our family, I want to express my personal thanks to each and every individual whose work ethic and focus helped save Keyes’s life, and the lives of uncounted others. And I express my appreciation to those who have made it possible for this facility to continue to do its important work, here in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.”
Blanshay said Revision Military develops and delivers purpose-built protective equipment for military use worldwide. The company, which began with eyewear, has expanded to face and head protection and continues to develop its capabilities for integrated, performance-enhancing soldier systems. The firm is headquartered in Essex Junction, Vermont, but has offices in Canada and the Netherlands.
NEWPORT, Vt. (TUESDAY, Oct. 16)