TALLADEGA -- Elbit Systems celebrated half a century of operation in the heart of Talladega on Friday, with ceremonies and receptions that brought current employees, retirees, management staff from around the country and Congressman Mike Rogers, among others, together.
The company, in the Brecon subdivision, began life in 1969 as International Enterprises Inc., which manufactured wire harnesses for fire engines.
International was acquired by Elbit Systems of America in 1999, and the company has grown since then. It occupies a 40-acre campus with a 60,000 square foot facility, not including office space.
According to Internal Communications Manager Ken Roberts, the company employs between 127 and 135 individuals and has an annual payroll of $7 million. About 40 percent of the employees are veterans, and all of them are cross-trained on a number of different platforms.
Elbit President and CEO Raanan Horowitz said the acquisition of the Talladega facility was “the best deal I ever made, worldwide.”
The company began with a dream of “a good place for the technical folks, most of them served in the military, in Alabama,” he added. “I tell people there is nothing that cannot be repaired in Talladega. I am so, so proud of what we do here, and the future continues to be bright as we bring in new platforms and new capabilities,” including a renewed emphasis on electronic warfare and radar.
According to a press release from last year, Elbit Systems of America has provided advanced technology solutions for the defense, homeland security, commercial aviation and medical instrumentation markets.
Rogers (R-Saks) was the afternoon’s guest speaker. He praised the current administration for increasing defense spending but warned those present not to be content with continuing resolutions passed in lieu of a new budget.
Spending “has increased dramatically in the last two years, and we’ve made a deal for two more, but it will take us five or six years before we get back to where we need to be,” he said. “The bad news is that D.C. is paralyzed right now, and that will be a problem.”
The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act is in conference committee, where members of the House and Senate are trying to reconcile different versions of the bill. Rogers is on the conference committee.
“Hopefully, we will get everything worked out, I’ll get my space force and you all will get your money,” he quipped.
Under the current continuing resolution, Rogers said all programs are flatlined, which means no new starts, no increases to existing programs.
“It’s bad news,” he said.
Hopefully, he added, the situation would be resolved, and he wished Elbit “another 50 years of strength and progress.”