Defense contractor buys majority of Reed Composite Solutions

Majority shares for Reed Composite Solutions, Aberdeen-based maker of body armor and ballistic panels, have been purchased by a global defense contractor.

Hesco, a U.K. and U.S. company making defensive and flood barriers, is in the process of buying the controlling interest in the two-year-old local company.

The companies went before the Port of Grays Harbor commissioners this week to formally transfer the Reed Composite lease for space at the Port to Hesco, pending the completion of the partnership agreement.

Ryan Reed, president of RCS, said his company had been looking for a partner and connected with Hesco while they were both considering a partnership with another company.

“RCS is doing very well, we’re actively hiring and we’re growing,” Reed said. “Timing was right for both companies.”

Michael Hughes, CEO of Hesco Bastion Ltd., the company’s UK arm, said it will be business as usual for the time being at the local facility. It will continue to make the same RCS products and employ the same people.

“I don’t want to distract the facility from making that successful,” Hughes said. “This is a new product for us as a business and we’re going to be expanding that base and growing.”

He didn’t discount the possibility of expanding local operations to make more products in the future.

“Going forward — never say never,” he said.

“They’re investing in us as people as much as a company,” Reed added. “The core products that we make are synergistic and additive to their portfolio.”

Hesco primarily makes barriers for flooding, security and ballistic and blast protection. Hughes said it provided oil barriers during the Gulf Coast oil spill, security barriers for the London Olympics and protective barriers for United Nations camps in Mogadishu.

“We are a global business, we operate globally and we think that’s something we can bring to help Reed,” Hughes said. “We’ve got a very strong brand. There’s a million U.S. servicemen who’ve been behind Hesco at some point.”

If expansion is necessary in the future, Reed said Satsop Business Park may be an option.

“The Port’s an incredible partner,” Reed said. “We don’t even use the term landlord, we wouldn’t be here without the Port.”

“Given the support of the Port so far, why would we want to go anywhere else?” Hughes added.

RCS currently employs 12 to 15 people and is in the process of hiring more skilled and semi-skilled labor.

“RCS was founded as a family-owned company, Hesco is a family owned company,” Reed said. “We’re still family owned, the family just got bigger.”

Hughes declined to say how much Hesco purchased the majority shares for, but called Hesco’s investment in RCS “significant.”

The partnership agreement is expected to be completed within four to six weeks.


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