Defense and aerospace industry leader Northrop Grumman is creating opportunities for small manufacturers, including veteran-owned and disadvantaged businesses in West Virginia and surrounding areas.
Representatives from Northrop Grumman recently participated in a Small Business Outreach Expo organized by the AIM Higher Consortium, a U.S. Department of Defense-funded initiative to connect manufacturers in the region to the military supply chain.
Tad Robinette, owner of Liberty Hill Company, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business in Huntington, is the first small manufacturer in West Virginia to be awarded a Northrop Grumman contract as a result of the expo. He secured a deal to manufacture weapons system components for Northrop Grumman’s facility at Rocket Center in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.
“The Small Business Outreach Expo was pivotal in educating Liberty Hill in the requirements needed to become a supplier,” said Derek Scarbro, deputy director of Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), which is a member of the AIM Higher Consortium. “Following the expo, RCBI worked with Tad to complete new supplier documents quickly and secure the contract.”
Robinette is relatively new to manufacturing. He was introduced to computer-numerical-control (CNC) machining 18 months ago as part of a free RCBI apprenticeship program for military veterans, which he followed up with more advanced machinist training at RCBI. That spurred him to start his own business, which he has scaled by leveraging the shared manufacturing technology available at RCBI. Most impressively, Scarbro said, Liberty Hill quickly established all 110 controls of the NIST 800-171 requirements, a key cyber security compliance measure required by defense contractors.
“Northrop Grumman understands the importance of working with small diverse businesses and continues to grow the defense industrial base and increase the military supply chain right here in the Mountain State,” said Adrienne Royce, a supply chain manager at Northrop Grumman.
Liberty Hill is committed to demonstrating the ability of the emerging company to deliver on its commitment to provide precise, high-quality parts consistently and on time.
“I feel honored that Northrop Grumman took a chance on a small West Virginia company like mine,” Robinette explained. “I realize that I have to prove myself, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
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