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Ellwood's evolution: Congressman Thompson pays a visit to National Forge

September 4, 2019
In The News

“This site here in Warren County. This is about national security.”

And a desire to “identify concerns” and see how manufacturers “interface” with the federal government brought Congressman Glenn Thompson to Ellwood National Forge on Tuesday morning.

The visit was an opportunity for Thompson to meet with a number of Ellwood officials, specifically to discuss the company’s role in the supply chain for the Department of Defense.

“We want people to know what we do,” David Barensfeld, former CEO and current board chair said. “We’re proud of it. Our company has evolved.”

Tuesday’s visit highlighted propulsion shafts that Ellwood produces for the U.S. Navy as well as the various penetrator, bunker-buster-style “empty warhead case assemblies” the company produces.

President Mike Barrett said that the various sizes of penetrators have been a “very nice product line for us” in addition to tanks, barrels and Army research and development initiatives the company is involved with.

The penetrators take a couple of weeks to work through the various phases at the shop with one official noting “even though it goes ‘boom,’ a lot of precision goes into it.”

Barensfeld said it’s “almost a pity that it has to be blown up.”

Propulsion ships for the Navy are another key aspect of their work with the Department of Defense.

Barensfeld noted that the company “can make any shaft the Navy wants to buy.”

And that’s where company officials made the case to Thompson for his help.

Barensfeld noted there’s a “misperception” in the Navy that the company can’t do the heavy manufacturing needed. He explained a rear admiral will be touring the facility later this month.

He said he would like to see the armed services stick to a “Buy American” policies.

Speaking to the staff on the tour, Thompson said that he is “so proud of what you all do here; so effective, so lethal. It really is impressive what you do for our national security.”

He explained that he would be willing to go to bat in Washington for the company.

“I want to be all in, part of the team,” he said, and “help anywhere I can. Hopefully, there are times when (it is) helpful to intercede.”

One of the specific challenges where he will give some attention is the Navy’s decision to purchase some of their needed propulsion shaftings internationally, saying he would meet with the Navy’s legislative liaisons in the coming weeks.

Thompson called that thinking “wrong-headed” and said that purchasing domestically “creates jobs here.”

More generally, he said visits such as this are “very, very helpful” for him to be able to “meet the people working here” and “identify concerns.”