Some 100 people packed the factory floors of Revision Military in Newport on Thursday to celebrate a $98 million combat helmet contract with the U.S. Army.
Jonathan Blanshay, the CEO of Revision, said the contract is a boon for the local economy and the company’s growth. Competition for the contract, which was awarded in March, was intense, he said.
“It was a very competitive tender, and the people in here pulled it off,” Blanshay said.
The contract is the biggest Revision has landed and requires the company to make the U.S. Army up to 293,870 combat helmets through 2022. Blanshay said the high tech helmets are nearly a quarter lighter than the headgear used by soldiers now and will reduce the overall weight by a half pound. The company has spent years developing materials that provide ballistic protection and improve the comfort of the helmets. Revision’s Advanced Combat Helmet Generation II will be available for use in 2018.
Today Revision employs some 150 people in Newport and more than 300 people statewide. Since the Newport factory opened in 2013, the company has expanded the factory by 16,000 square feet and has more than doubled its workforce. With the new contract, Blanshay said, he anticipates hiring “dozens” more workers.
The company’s headquarters are in Essex, and it has offices in Montreal, Ottawa, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg. From 2010 to 2015, Revision received about $2 million from the state through the Vermont Employment Growth Initiative, according to data from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott, U.S. Sen Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., were on hand to mark the occasion in a show of nonpartisan unity.
“We’re not Republican or Democrats here – we’re Vermonters and Americans,” Leahy said. “We want to succeed.”
When people ask Leahy what makes him proud to be a Vermonter, he said he thinks of Revision and its employees.
Scott said Revision should be proud that officials from separate political parties came together despite their differences to celebrate the contract.
Welch said there was a lesson in the event Thursday. “What you can learn here is that pulling together is an awful lot more helpful than pulling apart,” he said. Everyone is better together, he said, and Revision knows that. It’s part of the reason the company won the contract, Welch said.
The U.S. Army previously contracted with Revision in 2012 to manufacture 180,000 helmets.
Since 2005 the company has delivered 1.1 million helmets to the U.S. military and 300,000 helmets to military operations in countries. Revision originally developed specialty eyewear for soldiers and expanded operations over time to include the manufacture of protective wear for the face, head and torso. The company also makes energy storage and power management products.
Revision says in a press release that it has never received “a single warranty claim for product malfunction or defect, has never had to recall a single faulty product, and has never failed a single Lot Acceptance or First Article test.”
The company says it is also the most experienced manufacturer in the industry of a high tech plastic known as Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene.