“Made in America? We can do it for nearly any product we sell,” said Mike Suppa, vice president of Planning and Operations at Jamestown’s Support Enterprises, Inc., one of Chautauqua County’s fastest growing businesses. In 2012, SEI’s fiscal income increased 277 percent over fiscal year 2011. “Quality sells,” Suppa recently told a visitor at SEI’s Jones & Gifford plant. “And we’re opening a retail outlet here, too, in addition to our on-line sales outlet at www.supportent.com.”
Support Enterprise’s Made in America line of nearly a dozen retail products includes children’s drawstring back-packs, rugged outdoor, household and utility gear and ladies handbags. While sales are national, company ownership and its more than 50 employees are local residents. “We care about our customers,” a company spokesman added. “Our work ethic goes back to the founding of America. We are all neighbors; the community knows how to reach us. We sincerely want people to know we care.”
Community commitment is also expressed in the considerable amount of sub-contracting work in which Support Enterprises collaborates with The Resource Center, employing the developmentally disabled. A portion of SEI’s profits support the various community and humanitarian missions of The Resource Center and the Resource Center’s Foundation.
Few U.S. military personnel, anywhere in the world, have not handled and even trusted their lives to many of SEI’s products, made in close collaboration with The Resource Center. Made in America and fail-safe quality workmanship are basic requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense, according to company officials. Common American consumer products are rarely made to the same exacting specifications, but SEI’s innovative concept is simply to apply the same standards to consumer products.
“We make household and outdoor consumer gear with the same fabrics and stitching that our military uses to airdrop 2,000+ pound pallets onto the battlefield. That’s gear that will last a homeowner through a lot of hard work,” plant General Manager, Harold Roberts, said with obvious pride in his company’s products.
Support Enterprises is extending an invitation to the public and the local business community to their Open House on Wednesday, February 27, from 11:00 to 2:00 at The Landing, 85 Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown. “We’re eager to show the public what SEI can do,” Suppa said. There also will be giveaways of SEI merchandise during the Open House celebration.
The core of the business is in their creative designs and the specialty sewing in their products. The company’s fabric and stitching specialists can also perform silk screening and embroidery on most of its products. They recently expanded their production space by 5000 square feet, and the general public is invited to come and see the new complex. Support Enterprises also operates a manufacturing facility on East Chestnut Street in Dunkirk.
As a full-service industrial sewing operation, a tour of Support Enterprises, Inc. will naturally be of interest to quality retailers and manufacturers, but home seamstresses and embroidery hobbyists will find the operation especially fascinating too. The powerful, industrial sewing machines, for instance, resemble home machines about the way a Harley-Davidson resembles a bicycle. But the sewer’s skill is still the key to quality work.
Support Enterprises primarily serves the U.S. military, but it also uses its versatile sewing expertise to create a range of products for businesses and the general public. Support Enterprises’ current product line includes children’s drawstring backpacks, duffle bags, timber totes, firewood rack covers, grocery tote bags, ladies handbags, beach bags, motorcycle covers, tool bags, tool belts, and canine vests and backpacks. Industrial products include fabric-based straps, pulleys or any other similar needs of manufacturing companies.
Support Enterprises also has a research and design team that works with customers to take a concept and turn it into a prototype, facilitating analysis of limited or mass production costs and methods.
Support Enterprises is led by Michael Suppa, Vice President; Robert Schifano, Product and Development Engineer, and Harold Roberts, General Manager. Among them, they bring more than 70 years of experience to this thriving new corporation.
Support Enterprises is an independent, for-profit corporation that collaborates closely with The Resource Center. Support Enterprises performs some subcontracting work for The Resource Center’s manufacturing operations, and a portion of SEI’s profits is used to support people with disabilities through The Resource Center and TRC Foundation.
For more information about Support Enterprises or the open house, phone 661-1028 or visit their web site, www.supportent.com.