Editor’s note: This article is by Warren Johnston of the Valley News, in which it was first published Oct. 6, 2013.
QUECHEE — On eve of last week’s government shutdown, Simon Pearce won a potential five-year competitive contract for $5 million to provide 20 different styles of custom handcrafted stem and barware to the State Department for use in American embassies around the world.
The contract stipulates that the items be made in the United States, Clay Adams, chief executive officer at Simon Pearce, said in an email.
“Simon Pearce is a natural fit for this given its production in Vermont and Maryland. Simon Pearce received its first purchase order … for more than 12,000 pieces, most of which will be produced here in Vermont later this year,” Adams said.
The contract also will allow Simon Pearce to hire glass blowers in the Upper Valley, and much of the work will be done in the Quechee facility, he said.
“We’re thrilled with the contract and will take great pride in having Vermont product in the hands of people around the world,” Adams said.
The contract was originally awarded two years ago to a U.S.-based company that outsourced the production to Europe, Adams said.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Vermont’s congressional delegation and that of other states with domestic glass producers, the contract was re-competed, resulting in this recent award to Simon Pearce,” he said. “It is a great way to show that U.S. based manufacturing can produce a stunning product using a combination of timeless artisanship and modern technology.”
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, which oversees State Department funding, was instrumental in helping Simon Pearce get the contract. Leahy wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of the bid by Simon Pearce, a news release says.
“It is wonderful to have such an exquisite example of Vermont craftsmanship on display and in use in our embassies around the world,” Leahy said in the release. “Marcelle and I have visited many of those embassies, and knowing that Simon Pearce’s products will be there is something that all Vermonters should be proud of,” Leahy said.
The State Department contract came during the frenzied last week of the fiscal year known in Washington as “use it or lose it” season, when government agencies are forced to spend leftover budgeted funds or give them back and lose them in future budgets.
During the last week of September in 2012, the government spent $45 billion on contracts and spending spiked by $100 billion, according to The Washington Post and the conservative nonprofit group Public Notice.