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High-Lift Jack/MLE proposal for Army in the runningPosted Friday, October 10, 2008, at 2:07 PM
Well, the preliminary news is encouraging coming from MLE officials concerning the joint contract bid they recently partnered with Hi-Lift Jack Company and submitted to the U.S. Army.
The two Bloomfield-based businesses have collaborated on a bid and are trying to land a government contract that could put nearly 100,000 Hoosier-state produced jacks on U.S. Army Humvee vehicles around the world.
The bid was submitted last week.
If the solicitation bid is successful, the initial shipment will be for 10,000 Hi-Lift Jacks manufactured in Bloomfield with the potential to supply a minimum of 108,243 jacks over a five-year period, according to Steve Dowden, who serves as High-Lift Jack's vice president of sales and marketing.
MLE spokesman Ray Darnell admits it's too early to celebrate, but said the Greene County bid is still under serious consideration.
That's real good news.
"What we have heard is this, that the Army Technical Command has accepted the proposal on behalf of MLE and Bloomfield Manufacturing Company. Eric Harrah's group combined with MLE have put forth a completely compliant proposal that is accepted by the Army for competition. That's the first step. A lot of company's submit proposals and they (the Army) doesn't just reject them, they throw them in the trash because you can't re-submit. If you fail the compliance test, you are not in consideration. We've received word that the first step is complete and we are completely compliant," Darnell told me this week. "We submitted the 48-inch jack as one proposal and the 60-inch jack as a second proposal. Two proposals were submitted for the Army to consider and they are supposed to call us next week because they are going to have us come up to Livonia, Mich. and demonstrate that the jack can do what we say they can do. Once we pass that test, then we are in the mix on seeing who wins the contract. We'll hear that in about a month."
Bloomfield Manufacturing's trademark Hi-Lift jack -- which has become a global standard in the 4 x 4 industry -- was founded in 1905. The company has sales representatives all over the world in places like the United Kingdom, most of the European countries, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and Russia.
For years, Bloomfield Manufacturing Company has sold its Hi-Lift jacks to the military in small quantities -- particularly for vehicles that are over in the combat zones of Iraq and other places in the Middle East.
This order would be much bigger and could open the door for big things to come in the future.
Dowden and company CEO Eric Harrah say it's too early to predict how the contract -- if successful -- will affect the employment numbers at the Bloomfield manufacturing plant.
Currently, less than 50 production workers are employed at the plant working one shift daily. The plant has the capacity to manufacture about 1,200 jacks daily.
But everyone involved is hopeful this could be a real spark for the local economy.
Darnell lauded the help that has been given to MLE and Hi-Lift Jack from another successful area defense contractor, SIAC -- which maintains a host of offices in Bloomfield and on NSWC Crane base.
"SAIC has been very, very cooperative to us in the style of Greene County pulling together. SAIC doesn't have much to gain in the sense of helping MLE and Bloomfield Manufacturing, but that doesn't matter. They are Greene County people. They have Humvees like the ones we'll have to test with and they have provided them to us to make sure our demonstration will work and so we are familiar with it. They offered it (the vehicle) right up in just a wonderful Greene County spirit."
Darnell said it's encouraging also that the two local companies are finding ways to be competitive in a global market -- during really tough economic times.
"Given all of the times here at the grassroots in a small county heartland we're doing all we can to move forward with high technical and competitive wage jobs and we are trying to battle the (financial) currents that are out there rushing against all of us," he said. "We're hoping to grow and do things in a way that if the credit crunch rolls down to the smallest businesses -- which is the direction it is coming -- and that will affect everybody. We're hoping to have had enough success to maintain ourselves."
MLE Enterprises, based in Terre Haute, conducted a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 25 at WestGate at Crane Technology Park for the construction of a 7,000 square feet, $200,000 mixed-use building with space for offices, work stations, training and warehouse areas.
Company officials expect to be in their WestGate building in about 90 days.
We'll keep our fingers crossed on this one -- knowing the High-Lift Jack can do the job as promised in the contract proposal for our troops around the world.
This is a good example of several local companies working together for the economic good of the entire county.
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