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Wilcox Industries Expanding and Winning Product Accolades
 
Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017
by MATTHEW J. MOWRY


James Teetzel, CEO of Wilcox Industries.


Most of the shoppers that stream into the Fox Run Mall in Newington are unaware that across the street is a growing defense manufacturer that produces tactical products for both soldiers in battle as well as police officers responding to emergencies. Although, if they were to approach the high walls and security gate at the entrance of Wilcox Industries, that might be their first inkling that something big is going on.  

One of Wilcox’s 250 products—the Scott Hybrid Patriot 5510 backpack respirator system—recently thrust the company into the limelight, taking home the top prize as the NH High Tech Council’s 2016 Product of the Year in November. The Patriot, developed in the last year, beat out four other finalists.  


From left: Sgt. Steven Bolduc of the Exeter Police Department Special Emergency Response Team; Michael Helfich of Blueforce Development; Ned Dazell, James Teetzel, Dave Kent, Tim West and Roger Desrosiers of Wilcox at the Product of the Year event in November. Courtesy Photo.


This backpack respirator offers life support for military, first responders and hazardous materials handlers. And its latest upgrade was the addition of Bluetooth communication, real-time data readings of environmental conditions and streamlining the product to reduce its weight by 10 pounds. The Patriot provides an operator up to eight hours of time in the field and offers four breathing configurations, depending on the conditions the operator encounters. The Patriot was originally designed for Navy Seals but is also used by military explosive disposal units and fire departments.

“We sell it to a lot of federal agencies, law enforcement and state agencies for counter terrorism,” says CEO James Teetzel, explaining the technology would help protect responders were a dirty bomb or biohazard released or, say, if law enforcement agents were investigating a toxic meth lab.

Wilcox invested more than $4 million developing the Patriot technology. But that product isn’t the company’s only big news.

The company is undergoing a major expansion to keep up with growing demand for its products. Teetzel says the firm has outgrown its 125,000-square-foot facility and in December received approvals to build an 80,000-square-foot addition to place new equipment. He says he also expects to move into the addition this fall. The company is also building a road, Wilcox Way, which will connect to Gosling Road.

Wilcox produces all of its own roughly 8,000 parts other than circuit boards. That means manufacturing 35,000 parts a week on average. That allows the company to control quality, a chief focus at Wilcox that helps to differentiate it in the marketplace, Teetzel says, adding most of its mechanical designs come with a lifetime warranty. “That’s unique in this industry,” he says.

Wilcox is a maze of manufacturing areas, clean rooms, a machine shop, plastic injection equipment, quality control and assembly areas and even an underground firing range for product testing. The facility runs 24 hours a day, six days a week producing night vision mounting systems, small arms systems, combat systems and the hybrid life support systems. Its products range from grips and weapon mounts to video displays for weapon systems to fire control systems.

While Teetzel does not discuss specific revenue figures, he says Wilcox grew revenue 15 percent in 2016 and anticipates growing revenue by 30 percent this year. Teetzel anticipates the company’s expanding electro-optics division will account for 50 percent of business in the next two years. He also expects to add another 100 employees to his existing workforce of just under 200 in the next two years.

That’s a far cry from when he founded his company in his garage in 1982. Wilcox’s customers now spread across 26 countries, and the company designs and manufactures customized products for clients. Teetzel notes customers want equipment to be lighter, smaller and simpler to use in the field.

“We believe in constant improvement and that change is good,” Teetzel says. “We usually have eight new products in development in a year.”


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