Beretta to increase output at gun plant Military contract to bring more work to Accokeek plant

July 30, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Beretta USA Corp. said yesterday that it is boosting production of the military side of its Accokeek plant to accommodate a $6.5 million contract it won to supply 16,600 handguns to the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard.

Jeff Reh, contract manager for Beretta, said the Army Reserve-National Guard order will result in a near doubling of the plant's military production.

"We are in a ramp-up phase," Reh said. "We will deliver 3,500 pistols to the Navy this month and 6,000 next month."

The Navy is the purchasing agent for the Army Reserve and National Guard contract.

Reh said that 4,500 of the 9 mm, M9 handguns made for the military next month will go to the Army Reserve and National Guard. The rest go to the Navy. Last September, Beretta received an $18.5 million order for 45,000 of its 9 mm handguns for the Navy.

The new contract comes just as the company is breaking ground on an expansion of its Accokeek plant to house the company's first shotgun production facility in the United States.

Reh said construction of a 20,000 square-foot addition, which will add 30 percent more factory space, was started three weeks ago.

The $3.5 million construction project is scheduled to be completed in September.

At that time the company expects to hire an additional 40 to 50 workers, according to Robert L. Bonaventure, vice president and general manager of the U.S. subsidiary of the Italian company that has been producing firearms since 1526.

Like other Beretta products, the shotgun will be rather expensive. It will have a suggested retail price of about $1,200, according to Bonaventure.

Ten years ago, Beretta became a household world in this country when it won a fiercely contested contract to make a new 9 mm handgun to replace the vintage Colt .45 that U.S. military troops had strapped to their waists since the trench warfare days of World War I.

Beretta eventually delivered more than 390,000 handguns to the military in a contract that topped $110 million. That contract was completed about a year and a half ago.

The military contract opened the door for even more business.

The Prince George's County company has supplied more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies nationally, including most of the police departments in Maryland, with Beretta pistols.

Reh said the orders from the police departments helped pick up the slack when the company's first military contract was completed.

He said the Army Reserve and National Guard contract will help stabilize business now that commercial sales are beginning to taper off.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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