Company wins $275M contract

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

About 500 employees at the Selma American Apparel plant have more job security, now that the company has won a $275 million contract from the U.S. Army.

“It should assure continued employment in the Selma plant for the next five years,” Jim Hodo, American Apparel CEO, said.

The contract requires the uniform producer to produce the coats for the Army’s new “digitized camouflage” uniforms over a five-year period, according to Hodo.

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“We start immediately,” he said.

Hodo said the new contract doesn’t mean any new employees at entry-level positions, but he said the company would be hiring more executives.

“We (are) probably going to be bringing some people in as well as promoting some of our existing people,” he said.

The contract means American Apparel will produce 1,860,000 coats each year for the military.

The new uniform is the result of a design from the Army, which uses a computer to literally print a digital “universal” camouflage on the material.

The new uniform won’t be made like the old uniform, according to Army press releases.

It uses Velcro and zippers instead of buttons. The rank insignia and the nametags are veclroed on.

The colors have changed, eliminating black altogether. Military officials say black was obsolete, as it doesn’t occur naturally.

Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston was one of the soldiers that advised the military on changes in the uniform.

“We have not made a major change to our uniforms since the early 1980s,” he stated in a press release. “This new uniform performs well in multiple environments.”

The changes in style require a change in the way American Apparel makes its uniforms, Hodo said.

“It’s going to be a major capital investment,” Hodo said.

He said the contract confirms his company’s reputation for quality and the work would be beneficial for the area and the company.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for us,” Hodo said.