Keene Crib Company Adds Jobs Thanks To New Defense Contract (Really)

Sean Freese / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire can now add "baby crib manufacturer" to its eclectic list of Defense contractors

As we’ve frequently noted, New Hampshire’s economy heavily depends on Defense contracting.  In the case of large defense-oriented companies like BAE Systems in Nashua, Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack, or GE Aviation in Hooksett, the connection is obvious.  And, of course, there are a bevy of smaller high-tech components manufacturers that also benefit from catering to DOD’s needs.

Then there’s Whitney Brothers, Inc. of Keene.

The company makes wooden cribs.

And it seems the Army needs 3,000 of them before 2013.

As Melanie Plenda writes for the New Hampshire Business Review:

“‘The federal government in particular is involved in more activities than most of us can imagine,’ said David Pease, program manager for the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program for the state Department of Resources and Economic Development. ‘It’s not immediately obvious why the army would need cribs, but the Army has a large number of employees, mostly younger people, many of whom have families who need daycare. So they wind up providing daycare on military bases around the world. And thus, cribs.’

It turns out the Army needs the Whitney Bros. cribs to replace old cribs at child care centers that do not comply with new safety standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission said all public childcare facilities will have to replace cribs with drop-down sides and others that failed to meet new, more stringent safety mandates by the end of this year.”

This contract is such good news for Whitney Brothers, Plenda reports, the company will be adding 13 new jobs.  That would increase the workforce by about a third.  And, if the government needs any more cribs or other furniture, like changing tables, company management says it’s prepared to add still more employees.

According to Plenda, that’s not actually as far-fetched as it might sound.  The DOD contract is “open source.”  That means “that any branch of the government that needs baby furniture or other wares made and sold by Whitney Bros. can buy from Whitney Bros.”  The Army contract lasts for at least three years for a total (so far) of about $866,000.


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