Fire-Dex Takes Over Former Kitsbow Facility, Plans to Rehire Laid-Off Workers
An Ohio company that makes PPE (personal protective equipment) for first responders is moving into the former employee-owned Kitsbow building in Old Fort, North Carolina. Fire-Dex is opening a production center in the recently-vacated 25,000-square-foot Old Fort facility to rehire many of the laid-off Kitsbow workers. Fire-Dex arrives in Old Fort following the purchase of a recently vacated apparel manufacturing building that had employed over 60 associates. Operating from the new space, Fire-Dex has prioritized the rehiring of these workers to create an exceptional sewing-ready facility with access to skilled craftspeople and leadership talent. Fire-Dex officials said it was an opportunity to take advantage of infrastructure, equipment, and personnel that were already in place in Old Fort.
“It was late in June when we found out about these jobs and flew our executives to Old Fort the following week,” Fire-Dex chairman and owner Bill Burke said in a news release. “Within 10 days a lease was signed for the facility, and we started the process of bringing these former employees on board.” “While our footprint is rapidly expanding westward, we serve a large portion of the East Coast with many relationships that go back decades,” Fire-Dex vice president of operations John Karban said in the news release. “Old Fort presents a unique opportunity to position critical resources closer to major customers and, at the same time, boost the local economy by keeping many jobs in Old Fort.” Karban said associates will be trained in making suspenders and pockets before the facility ramps up to full PPE production over the next 18 months. Fire-Dex, the country’s fastest-growing manufacturer of PPE for first responders, is growing again with the opening of a new production facility in Old Fort. As the company’s fourth major production center, the 25,000-square-foot Old Fort facility will play a vital role in ensuring quality craftsmanship, fast shipping, and attentive service to customers for years to come.
With all the critical pieces in place, including infrastructure, equipment, and personnel, Fire-Dex is swiftly integrating its business into the community’s rich heritage. “As of last week, we have begun shipping machines to the new location to prepare to set up a Fire-Dex facility and begin training,” says Jordan Shanahan, Old Fort Plant Manager. “I am thrilled to be a part of a company that is committed to manufacturing excellence and has the vision to become a world leader.” Karban explains that associates will first be trained in making suspenders and pockets before the facility ramps up to full PPE production over the next 18 months. As activities accelerate, Fire-Dex anticipates hiring up to 200 full-time sewers to support garment assembly needs.
“Our new facility in Old Fort will meet the same high standards that all Fire-Dex facilities strive for,” Karban adds. “This includes Pelham, Georgia, where back in 2018 we succeeded in keeping over 50 jobs in the region after making it our home, and have since expanded to employ over 100 team members. More recently, our fast growth has made the addition of a fourth production center essential, and we look forward to welcoming the new associates to our Fire-Dex Family.” Protecting everyday heroes with top-quality gear while meeting manufacturing goals with greater agility has been the mission of Fire-Dex since 1983. Now celebrating 40 years in business, the company’s popularity and sales have soared dramatically as generations of firefighters and first responders have come to know and trust the Fire-Dex name and its reputation for safety. Those looking to join a growing and supportive family can explore employment opportunities with Fire-Dex in North Carolina and beyond. Visit firedex.com to meet a team committed to providing the best head-to-toe protection to the fire service industry. About Fire-Dex Fire-Dex is the fastest-growing manufacturer of PPE for first responders and the world’s largest Independent Service Provider (ISP) of PPE care and maintenance under its subsidiary, Gear Wash. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Medina, Ohio, this global company prides itself on being a family-owned and -operated business with a mission “to serve those who serve.” Its dedicated team of associates has helped pave the path of innovation for new products and services that focus on the health and safety of first responders by offering turnout gear, alternative PPE, boots, hoods, gloves, helmets, and PPE rentals. To learn more, visit www.firedex.com.