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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Molly Line

Boston, MA

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Textile Workers Rush – Print New Camouflage

August 2, 2010 - 9:29 AM | by: Molly Line

As U.S. troops in Afghanistan patrol a war zone, textile workers here at home are working around the clock to churn out a new camouflage pattern the Army believes will better protect our soldiers.

Historically, in times of war, factory workers have been called on to supply goods for battles half a world away and Duro Textiles in Fall River, Massachusetts is part of that proud tradition.

The 60-year-old company has been fulfilling military orders for 40 years and right now they’re rushing to meet the Army’s latest call. Ramping up production, workers are printing 250 thousand yards of a new pattern dubbed ‘multi-cam’ each week. It’s a mix of greens, brown and beige designed to hide soldiers as they traverse treacherous enemy territory in Afghanistan.

Duro CEO, Edward Ricci II, says the company takes pride in serving America’s service men and woman.

“It’s up to us to get it out to the troops to make sure that they are safe,” said Ricci. “So we’ll do anything in this organization. We built our company around technology and safety and supporting our troops, so that is our mission and goal. For us to do it is, you know, an honor and quite frankly it’s what our jobs are.”

In the last decade, military uniforms have changed dramatically. Far from a mere mix of nylon and cotton, today’s soldiers often wear fabrics that are antimicrobial and flame resistant.

Former Army Ranger Nicholas Pence works for TenCate, the company that supplies Duro with the specialized protective fabric used to make Army uniforms. Dubbed Defender M, the unique blend self-extinguishes, helping to reduce the severity of burns.

Pence served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. In that time he survived both an IED attack and a suicide bomb attack. Now serving in the Georgia National Guard, he believes the new pattern along with the flame resistant material will save lives.

“Afghanistan, you could be in a deserted sand, rock area one minute. You could be in thick vegetation another minute. And that pattern does a great job of protecting us,” said Pence. “Combine that with the fact that we have flame resistant properties with Defender M and we’ve got ultimate protection for our troops.”

According to Pence, the need for the new technology is especially great in Afghanistan where IED attacks have increased greatly in recent years.

“In Afghanistan, it’s a less developed country and the ability to hide, especially road side bombs, IED’s, vehicle born IED’s, is even greater,” said Pence.

The sense of urgency on the factory floor at Duro and amongst company officials is clear.

“Right now because of the influx of the new pattern we’re running 24 hours, 7 days a week and we have such a good, solid work force,” said Ricci. “They understand that we need to work overtime right now. The government needs us. We need to really make things happen quickly and they’re doing that for us and for the government.”

In the midst of a recession, employees are getting some overtime work and 20 new employees have been hired to help meet demand.

Many of Duro’s skilled production workers have been with the company for decades and feel a sense of pride that they’re helping to clothe and protect America’s military.

“I’m doing my part for the war effort,” said Stephen Cabral, an assistant printer who has worked for Duro for 24 years. He knows service men and woman in dangerous places will be wearing the material he sees each day.

“I hope for the sake of themselves and their families they’ll all come back safe and sound. We try to protect them and make them as stealthy as possible.”

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