The Business of War: Apparel Firms Benefit From Pentagon Orders

The war means more business for some domestic apparel and textile firms, but others are vying to get in on the more than $1.6 billion in military orders.

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"What we’re trying to tell the military is ‘there’s an American-made, just-as-good, but inexpensive substitute,’" Mazer said.

With the U.S. dropping tariffs and quota on an increasing number of apparel imports, domestic companies are increasing pressure on the military to adhere to the Berry Amendment.

"The Berry Amendment is crucial," said Jay Self, executive vice president of Greenwood Mills. "It ensures a domestic supply base."

William Garrett, president and chief executive officer of Delta Woodside Mills, says there’s plenty of U.S. textile capacity to meet the military’s needs, but he worries about the dwindling apparel factory ranks.

"It’s more than adequate during peaceful times and adequate during minor surges, but it does get strained," Garrett said.

Nick Griseto, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Westerly, R.I.-based Gradford Dyeing frets that continued import competition will mean more foreign military apparel contracts. If that happens, companies like Bradford, relying solely on military contracts, will also have a rougher time getting defense business.

"It is a critical situation the government has got to watch," he said.
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