NEWMARKET, Ontario (Oct. 3, 2011)—AirBoss of America Corp. has landed a large contract for its chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective over-boots and gloves from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The company's defense division also received an order to provide 75,000 injection molded CBRN over-boots from the Canadian military.
Maximum value of the pact with the U.S. Defense Department, which calls for 240,000 pairs of protective footwear and 400,000 pairs of protective gloves, is about $20 million, while the contract with the Canadian military totals $2.5 million, according to Robert Hagerman, president and CEO of the rubber product maker and custom rubber compounder.
AirBoss received immediate orders in the U.S. contract for 100,000 pairs of boots and 128,000 pairs of gloves. That part of the pact is valued at about $7 million. Deliveries on the initial orders are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012, he said.
The firm's defense division specializes in hand, foot and respiratory wear used for CBRN protection by the military and first-response units. AirBoss also makes extreme cold weather footwear for military use and a full range of firefighter boots, including the world's first CBRN fire boot.
Protective boots made for the U.S. military are hand-stitched, just as they have been for the last decade that AirBoss has supplied the products to the U.S. Defense Department, while those for the Canadian military are injection molded, a process the company developed and started using during the last two years.
Some countries in Europe also have contracted for AirBoss' molded version, which is less expensive than the hand-stitched boots. Those pacts came in the first quarter of 2010.
The stitched version is produced at the firm's facility in Acton Vale, Quebec, while the molded boots are made at its plants in Kitchener, Ontario, and Burlington, Vt.
The CBRN gloves are manufactured at the company's Burlington factory, which AirBoss opened in early 2010.
AirBoss recently began producing the over-boots for the Canadian military and it probably will take the remainder of the year to fill that order, according to the executive.
“We're making them as fast as possible,” Hagerman said.
The company has received contracts from the U.S. and Canadian military on a regular basis during the last several years.
For instance, late last year it landed orders totaling more than $22 million from the U.S. Department of Defense—one for 250,000 pairs of CBRN protective footwear and the other for 600,000 pairs of CBRN gloves.
Meanwhile, the Newmarket-headquartered firm has completed work on its new research and development center in Raleigh, N.C., to develop innovative compounds in support of its custom mixing operations in Scotland Neck, N.C., and Kitchener.
Hagerman said the center also was needed to be close to the firm's growing customer base in the Southeastern U.S. and to service the wire and cable industry, a relatively new market for the company.
In addition, AirBoss is building an R&D center in Bromont, Quebec, located near its Acton Vale and Burlington manufacturing plants. That facility is expected to develop the next generation defense products, primarily CBRN gear, working with various government entities, mainly the U.S. and Canada, according to the firm.
The company's defense division headquarters will be shifted to the new site from the Acton Vale facility while the military product production factory will remain in Acton Vale, Hagerman said.
Because of the type of intricate goods that will be invented in Bromont, Hagerman figures the development pace will be slower, taking about two to four years to come up with new offerings.