60 jobs coming to Opp

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 1, 2010

A $50 million U.S. military contract for American Apparel will allow the Opp branch of the company to increase its workforce by an estimated 60 employees.

On Wednesday, officials with the Selma-based American Apparel announced they had been awarded three U.S. military contracts to provide uniforms and uniform pieces for troops serving in combat operations.

Jim Hodo, the company’s chief operations officer, made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday morning, reported the Selma Times-Journal.

“American Apparel is fortunate to receive these contracts,” Hodo said. “These could not have come at a better time for us. This will allow us to prevent any future layoffs.”

In Opp, General Manager Peggy Henderson said this is good news for her plant.

“It’s going to bring all the people back that we laid off since March, which is about 45 people, and we’ll hire some more,” she said. “It will take my employment from 160 back to around 220.”

In addition, Henderson said the contracts will increase the production.

“I’m really excited about this,” she said.

The contracts are for combat and military uniforms for the United States Marine Corps and United States Army.

For the Marines, American Apparel will produce a fire-resistant combat shirt and trouser to be used in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the Army, the company will continue to manufacture combat coats with the Afghanistan-specific multi-cam camouflage pattern as well as a field coat liner.

In order to meet the demands of the new contracts, the company, in addition to hiring staff, will invest in building expansions and upgrades at the Selma site.

Not only will the new contracts provide a much-needed boost to the company, which was facing the likelihood of more staffing cuts in the coming weeks, but will help the overall company that has five facilities in Alabama, grow the overall number of employees.

“Right now, we have about 1,300 employees throughout the state,” Hodo said. “I would expect these contracts to help boost those numbers to about 1,400.”

Aside from the Selma and Opp operations, the company maintains operations in Oneonta, Centre and Fort Deposit.

Henderson said she has not received clearance from Selma to accept applications, but anticipates being able to begin the process in a little more than two weeks.