United States Senate candidate Democrat Chris Murphy spent an hour touring the Thomas G. Faria plant in Uncasville Wednesday afternoon stumping to tout his ‘Buy American’ commitment to helping ‘made in America’ manufacturers get contracts and thrive rather than see military contracts in particular go to companies that outsource labor.
“I can’t wait to fight for you,” Murphy said following a tour through the maze-like plant that manufactures gauges for vehicles including Humvees. “I plan on making this a centerpiece of my work in the Senate.”
Previously the company, which now employs 150, was in its heyday staffed with more than 320 people and provided gauges for Mustangs and Harley Davidsons.
Now outsourced manufacturers provide those components cheaper, company CEO David Hickey said. “They went off-shore,” he said.
Hickey said that 25 percent of its business is dedicated to military components, particularly Humvee panels. Now, the company is one of three competing for a contract worth some $20 million, which Hickey said would help “save” the company and bring almost 100 new jobs. But he said, his competitors, including Lockheed, can produce the components cheaper because they outsource.
“I can’t imagine the US government would allow the contract to go to a foreign competitor,” Murphy said. According to Hickey, Faria’s competition include companies whose labor is based in France and Mexico.
“I’ve argued to close loopholes,” Murphy said. “You need to get that contract.”
It was recently announced that Faria would receive a state-backed $3.5 million loan from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The deal is the state guarantees the 10-year, 2 percent loan with interest payments deferred for a year. Faria promised in exchange to retain its 150 workers, and hire 35 new workers during its proposed expansion with another 50 to be hired later. Hickey didn’t address when this hiring would begin.