A Gainesville company is celebrating hitting the halfway mark in an $85 million contract with the Army to assemble and deliver 5-ton tool systems used in military engineering and demolition jobs.
Kipper Tool Co. at 2375 Murphy Blvd. marked rolling out its 375th such unit with tours and a ceremony featuring state and local officials Tuesday morning.
The milestone “represents the fact that a small company can compete in major contracts, selling to the U.S. government and our military in particular,” Gov. Nathan Deal said.
“Many times, people think only the big boys … can have any part of that,” he said. “This is a welcome example of that’s not the case at all.”
Visitors browsed through one of the units, which feature hydraulic, pneumatic and gas-powered tools and accessories, which are packed into 13 molded cases.
Items are stored in a type of foam that “protects, organizes and allows for rapid inventory,” according to Kipper.
The tool systems help in such efforts as runway, barracks and office construction and runway repair, said Jeremy Shockley, who works in government sales for Kipper.
This is Kipper’s second five-year contract, with production beginning in June 2012.
“We don’t manufacture the tools that go in (each unit),” Shockley said. “We do make the toolboxes and (design) the foam tool cutouts.”
Otherwise, Kipper puts together the units with tools made by other companies — American-made as much possible, Shockley said.
Bill Deringer, Kipper’s vice president of sales, said at the ceremony, “We’ve got to prove, number by number and action by action, that we’re giving the government a great value.”
The work has been challenging over the years, with increases and reductions in military forces.
“We do have other customers, but we are focused on the government,” Deringer said. “We are trying to lead and bring value to small business.”
The company’s efforts drew raves from several officials.
“We appreciate your continued investment in our city and our county,” Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he was impressed by the plant, which is south of Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road.
“I tell people all the time one of the ways you can be successful in business is you have to be able to solve a problem,” Butler said. “(Kipper) is founded on that principle.”
State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said Tuesday’s event helped “exemplify what small business means to our community and our country.”