Department of Economic Development

Revision Military: Saving and Creating Jobs in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Profile/Introduction
Revision Announcement Press Conference in Newport, VT

Jonathan Blanshay (Revision Military, CEO), presented Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Peter Shumlin with personalized Advanced Combat Helmets signed by employees at Revision Military in Newport, VT.

Revision Military Ltd., located in Essex Junction, VT, develops and delivers protective equipment for military use worldwide. The company, which began with eyewear, expanded to face and head protection and continues to develop their capabilities for integrated, performance-enhancing soldier protective systems. Revision Military recently created a new subsidiary, Revision Ballistics, to focus on the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) market.

MSA, a global leader in personal safety products with 42 international locations, entered the ballistic helmet market in 2003 with a U.S. Army contract to produce ACH out of their Newport, VT manufacturing location. On March 23, 2012, MSA announced that it was leaving the military ballistic helmet market at the end of its current contract, to focus on its core product lines. The Newport manufacturing facility would close and 44 employees would be laid off.

Concurrently, the U.S. military announced its intention to solicit bids for the design of the next generation of ACH. Revision was eager to bid on the new helmet system, yet did not have a place to manufacture the new product.

The Challenge

Based on their interest in the ACH market, Revision had been investigating manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. since early 2010, with a focus on Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida and Mississippi. With MSA’s closure announcement, Revision decided to begin negotiations with MSA to purchase their Newport facilities. Purchasing MSA’s assets represented the only viable opportunity for Revision to locate the new manufacturing in Vermont. Even with a potential deal with MSA, a Vermont location was handicapped by higher operating expenses.

The Solution

The State led an effort, with the support of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, that utilized several programs of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD).  Hours of technical assistance were provided by ACCD, and the Vermont Economic Progress Council made an initial authorization of up to $743,000 in Vermont Employment Growth Incentives (VEGI). The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) extended $1.16 million in loans for equipment, machinery and inventory. In addition, Senator Leahy supplied critical help to the project by supporting Revision through their Department of Defense (DOD) contract bids.

The Result

Revision purchased MSA’s combat helmet division, saving over 40 jobs at the Newport manufacturing facility.

Revision recently announced a new $21.6 million DOD contract for more than 90,000 new helmets. This contract, along with existing contracts, will spur Revision to double its Newport workforce to 80 employees. Revision Military CEO Jonathan 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 in a very short time frame.”

At a press conference announcing the new contract and jobs, Governor 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.”

Senator Leahy commented: “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 so, but it looks like they are on the way to hiring as many as another 40 Vermonters by the end of the year.”

A Personal Story

Also at the press conference, former Essex-Orleans District Vermont State Senator Mike Metcalf told an inspiring story about how his son's life was saved, while serving as a Green Beret in Iraq, by an ACH helmet manufatured in Newport. Metcalf spoke of the phone call received from his youngest son, Keyes, who told his parents, "I got shot in the head. I'm fine, I have a pretty good headache and a few stitches, the helmet saved my life."

Metcalf went on to say: “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.”

For the complete transcript of Mr. Metcalf's remarks: click here

For more information on Revision Military, visit their website at http://www.revisionmilitary.com/