The CEO of Remington Arms says the company’s manufacturing facility in Ilion, New York could be used to make “ventilators, surgical masks, hospital beds or any other products mission-critical to the war on coronavirus,” and is offering to convert the factory if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requests the company’s help.
In a letter sent to Cuomo on Monday, Remington’s Ken Darcy told the governor that there’s 1-million square feet of manufacturing capacity that’s currently not being used by the company, and says that “Remington is ready to enlist in wartime production.”
A Remington Arms official could not be reached Tuesday for further comment, including how the logistics of such an operation would work. There was no immediate sense of whether the plant would be used for supply making as companies across the country have indicated they have space available.
“This is in line with Remington to do something like this,” Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica said Tuesday. “They have always been there to help.”
Lamica said the Ilion plant has a history that goes beyond producing firearms, as it has also produced typewriters, sewing machines, bicycles and fire engines.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that the CEO would do that and reach out and try to help,” he said.
“I think it’s great,” said John Piseck, executive director of the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency.
According to Piseck, Remington isn’t planning on retooling their factory to make masks, beds, or ventilators themselves, but rather is offering up use of the facility for the “production or distribution of goods.”
Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace said he had talked with Remington Arms Plant Manager Joseph Panko.
“They’re going through the process,” he said, adding Remington has also requested a waiver to allow the plant to continue producing firearms for military and police use.
“If they can utilize more of their space, that would be great. We’ve heard of the tremendous need for PPE (personal protective equipment). The quicker they can get it, the better,” said Wallace.
Right now the National Shooting Sports Foundation is working with the Trump administration to make it clear that firearm and ammunition manufacturers are critical businesses for our defense industry and need to remain open. If that happens, the Ilion plant likely won’t need a waiver from the state to keep producing firearms. If the facility is going to continue to manufacture arms, it’s unclear what that might mean for the company’s offer to use the manufacturing space for medical supplies.
State Senator James Seward thinks the offer by Remington is great, and he told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that he hopes the facility can remain open and production lines can keep rolling, whether the company is making pistols or PPE.
“The Remington Arms workforce consists of dedicated, skilled men and women and I am working closely with the plant manager in Ilion to get them back on the job,” he said in an email.
“I have discussed this tremendous offer with company officials and pledged my support. Anything we can do to get people back to work in a safe environment, while helping our state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, has my full endorsement.”
We’ll see if Gov. Cuomo takes the company up on their offer. It would be great news for the hundreds of employees if they could get back to work, even if they don’t yet know what exactly they might be making.