Wool's Role in Military Wear Explored

Wool’s Role in Military Wear Explored

LORI MCGEHEE
Sheep Industry News Contributor

The American Sheep Industry Association has facilitated selling American wool to the U.S. military for the past six years, and today approximately 25 percent of the American wool clip is sold to the military for use in wool blankets, pea coats, cadet uniforms, ceremonial uniforms and socks.

The crux of this successful partnership has been the relationships built with key military purchasing personnel including John Lemondes, an acquisition consultant to the U.S. military.

Lemondes spoke to the wool council at the ASI convention about how to continue successfully selling American wool to the military and how new companies can take advantage of this lucrative market.

Lemondes shared that he initially wasn’t sure that American wool was a good fit for the military, however a firsthand experience quickly changed his mind. He said he was somewhat skeptical when he was first provided with an American Wool superwash tshirt. However, he said “Trying is believing! I wasn’t fully convinced about American wool until I took a 10-mile run in the wool t-shirt. I could not believe how great I felt!”

The superwash t-shirt was a prototype developed by the Sheep Venture Corporation (SVC) to provide the military with an example of superwashed wool fibers. After learning how well wool worked, the military has made wool products available for purchase by the Air Force and Army, including several different fiber blends, fabric weights and socks.

Opportunities abound to sell wool to the U.S. military, but Lemondes emphasized that patience and knowledge are key. He said it’s important to understand the complicated process of entering into the military purchasing stream. Companies need to become familiar with the needs of the military, and the many factors that influence what will and will not be funded or purchased and these factors can change quickly. Also personnel changes occur approximately every two to three years. Therefore it’s crucial to begin working to influence the process long before the contracts are developed. He emphasized that becoming as knowledgeable as possible about the purchasing process will expedite sales, however it can take two to three years of foundation work before a sale is made.

Some of the key factors important to the government in selecting suppliers are reliability and maintainability. Cost, schedule and performance are also important decision factors driving the government buying strategy.

The U.S. government is encouraging agencies to work with small businesses. To find out about opportunities available for small businesses to sell to the U.S. government, visit www.governmentbids.com/, www.bidnet. com or www.fbo.gov.

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