NEWMARKET, Ontario—AirBoss of America Corp.'s defense products business has been growing at a fast pace during the last two years and the operation is in a good position to continue on that path in the foreseeable future.
At least that's how AirBoss President Chris Bitsakakis views the business and its prospects, especially after it was awarded another sizable contract, worth up to an aggregate amount of $26.7 million, by the U.S. Department of Defense. The pact calls for the manufacture and supply of up to 600,000 pairs of molded chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear lightweight overboots.
He said the contract, which was awarded on Sept. 30, covered the first order, about 84,000 pairs of CBRN boots. The delivery period for that order, worth an estimated $3.8 million, will be from the second quarter of 2020 through the third quarter.
Shortly thereafter, on Oct. 7, the firm received a second order under the contract, this one for 90,000 pairs of boots. That brings the total number ordered thus far to 174,800 pairs and the estimated value of the deal up to $7.8 million.
"AirBoss has significant manufacturing flexibility that will permit us to deliver the new follow-on order through the balance of 2020 and beyond," said Bitsakakis, who also is chief operating officer of the company. "With the second order in hand, we now expect to deliver a meaningful portion of the contract next year."
It's common for the U.S. Department of Defense to issue a contract for products along with the first delivery order, he said. Then, under that pact, it makes additional orders. "With the way they budget, it's easier to award this way," he said. "We anticipate it to be an ongoing award that will be quite good for us."
Called the Molded AirBoss Lightweight Overboot, the footwear is made with an injection molded specialty polymer and originally was designed and developed to provide superior physical properties compared to other CBRN overboots, the company said.
AirBoss said the MALO has been broadly adopted worldwide and been used in more than 40 countries. The firm said it has sold more than 445,000 pairs of the boots to date.
In terms of the overall contract, Bitsakakis said "the award builds on the more than $120 million in contracts for personal protective equipment that AirBoss Defense has secured in the last 12 months and drives increased momentum in the defense business as we prepare to conclude the AirBoss Defense Group transaction in the fourth quarter."
In addition to the most recent contract, AirBoss Defense—a designer, developer and manufacturer of CBRN personal protective equipment, as well as protection against communicable diseases and respiratory threats, for individual, first responder, medical, military, law enforcement and industrial personnel—is currently in the process of fulfilling key contracts the firm received in 2018.
It also is developing the next generation of the company's low-burden mask, and hopes to complete that project before the end of the fourth quarter.
While that is going on, the firm continues to bid on upcoming contracts. In fact, Bitsakakis said, "we're currently bidding on a really big contract, but can't talk about it just yet. We believe we're in a really good position for that one."
AirBoss Defense is poised to grow even faster in the future thanks in part to its pending merger with Charleston, S.C.-based Critical Solutions International Inc., a global supplier of route clearance vehicles, countermine and survivability products to U.S. and foreign military armed forces. That will create a large defense products business, expected to be called AirBoss Defense Group.
Bitsakakis said the deal is moving along quickly and he expects it to be completed before the end of 2019. The merger received approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment on Sept. 4, which he said is a major step toward completion of the transaction.
Once the transaction is finalized, AirBoss Defense not only will broaden its product base but also its global reach because Critical Solutions' products are supplied around the world, he said.
Under terms of the deal, AirBoss will own 55 percent of the merged stand-alone business and will continue to manage the manufacture of military and first responder goods. The combined AirBoss Defense Group will remain focused on generating new business from a growing global pipeline of opportunities, Bitsakakis said.