Langevin tours Jade Manufacturing, a ‘gem’ of a Rhode Island company
Representative Jim Langevin visited manufacturing companies throughout Rhode Island on Friday, Oct. 27 in honor of Rhode Island Manufacturing Month, as part of what his office dubbed “Manufacturing Day.”
In Warwick, Langevin paid a morning visit to Jade Manufacturing Inc., a highly-specialized manufacturing company located in Apponaug which builds complex pieces of work, primarily for Raytheon, to be used in integrated defense systems utilized by the United States military.
Jade’s manufacturing work has been used in such military implementations as the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, Tomahawk missiles, the USS Zumwault guided missile destroyer and the so-called “Mother of All Bombs,” the largest non-nuclear explosive ordinance deployed by the United States military, which was most recently deployed in Afghanistan in April in the fight against ISIL.
“We don’t have a product per say, other than it’s our quality and our reliability that’s been proven through over 50 years of deployment around the world,” said Steve Gruner, director of manufacturing. “We build to print, and while that sounds simple it can actually be pretty complex because it’s all in [military specifications] that we’re building to – custom hardware, gasketing, EMI shielding, finishes, materials – all of that stuff has to go into it.”
Langevin called Jade a “gem” of a Rhode Island company, and a success story. The company was created in 1945 by Arthur Boyle, and Arthur’s son Donald now runs it as president. In 2014 the company expanded into its current building – coincidentally enough in what used to the offices and printing operation for the Warwick Beacon and Beacon Press on Meadow Street.
Over the last five years, Jade has doubled their sales, from $1.5 million to $3 million – 90 percent of which comes from its business with Raytheon. They have received awards from Raytheon for the quality of their products five of the last 10 years – one of just 36 companies in Raytheon’s 3,500+ supplier companies to be able to boast such an accomplishment.
“Most of the artwork [in the building] is of what we do, and it’s kind of to remind us that peoples’ lives are on the line for what we make,” Gruner said.
Jade has now partnered with Polaris MEP, a state nonprofit which aims to assist manufacturing businesses in crafting improvement plans and expanding their customer base, in the hopes to diversify into other militaristic and commercial endeavors. They recently received an award from Polaris to help in their efforts to diversify their services.
“Over the past few years we’ve really put everything in place to take the next step,” Gruner said. “We’re ready to do it. We’ve got the building, we’ve got the capacity, we’ve got the supply chain, we’ve got the people, we’ve got the experience to do all of this. Now we’ve got some funding to help us create a plan and now we just have to enact it.”
Gruner also said that they would be happy to receive any help Langevin could provide.
“We’re going to do everything we can to assist you in that effort,” Langevin said. “My grandfather’s old advice was always, ‘You don’t have to be smart enough to have all the answers, you just have to be smart enough to know where to go to get them.’”
Following their presentation, Jade staff took Langevin on a tour of the facility, showing him various pieces of work they produced and the steps taken to assure a military-strict level of quality control. Langevin seemed impressed with the work.
“We’ve got the greatest military on the face of the planet, both because of the men and women who wear the uniform, but also because of the men and women who go to work every day at some of the great, amazing defense companies that we have in America that build the most effective equipment and amazing technologies that keep our warfighters safe and effective,” he said. “That’s what keeps us number one.”
Don Boyle was similarly impressed and happy with Langevin’s visit.
“He’s very interested in what you do and how you do it and inquiring as to what you need,” he said. “I think it’s nice to hear him ask questions – he’s a personable guy who shows a lot of interest and a lot of understanding.”