Robbins Plant in High Gear
Robbins' Growlers are going to war.
Since passing every test in every hostile environment, these fighting machines -- designed to fit the V-22 Osprey's confined cargo space -- are now fully certified and on their way to Afghanistan.
"We will be turning out three a week," said Bill Crisp, one of the owners of American Growler, the Robbins firm that produces them. "We are promoting people now."
It's the promotions Crisp wants to talk about. He said he is proud of the Robbins workers he hired after moving production from Florida to North Carolina, as well as the transplanted loyal staff who followed him from Ocala to Moore County.
One is the town's retired police chief, Danny Brown. He will be heading things up at the Green Street plant in Robbins as director of operations. Paul Suarez, who followed the company from Florida, will be production director, now assisted by Sandra Williams. Darrell Horner, a Robbins native, will supervise quality control. Noah Phillips, a former co-president of Northern Moore Tomorrow, is to be quality control inspector.
Albert Taylor, the new inventory manager, has earned certification in a number of different allied areas after six months of study and passing the required certification test in Raleigh, according to Crisp.
"Kevin Smith moved up with us," Crisp said. "Now he will be our production engineer and new process engineer. We are promoting three we brought from Florida and four locals. Our business is growing."
Now that all requirements have been met and all tests passed successfully, the factory will be in full operation. It took some time, since these vehicles must be able to perform in widely varying locales over widely varying terrain. The Growler passed its final test in Alaska in March.
"There could have been three results of these tests," Crisp said. "One would be if we'd failed, obviously. Another could have been passing but with restrictions."
After grueling trials in every setting from desert sand to arctic ice, the Growler passed with flying colors.
"No restrictions," said Crisp proudly. "This program has approval for full production. We meet ISO 9,000 quality control standards."
There are two basic models. One has a shorter wheelbase than the other and carries Marines. The other carries a 120-mm mortar and an ammo trailer. Growlers are light strike vehicles.
"Shoot and scoot," Crisp said. "You can load and off-load it like a pack mule. It takes seconds for them to get off the Osprey and go into action."
The Osprey is the U.S. Marine Corps V-22 vertical takeoff and landing aircraft designed to carry Marines and Growlers from ship deck to target sight without needing a beach landing.
Growler development began in 1999 when the Marine Corps started looking for vehicles that could be transported inside the cramped space of an Osprey -- an "internally transportable vehicle," hence the term ITV.
That cargo compartment is five feet wide, five feet tall and less than 17 feet in length. The smaller, lighter Growler can be used for reconnaissance. Mortar-towing Growlers were first deployed to Marine units earlier this year, but now are going into full production and deployment.
The company employs some 75 workers at its local plants.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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