A managing partner with Remington Arms' new owner was at the Ilion plant Monday, getting the lay of the land, and preparing the plant to start making guns again.
"We're bringing up a lot of equipment from Huntsville, so we're trying to figure out the floor plan, exactly where everything goes," said Richmond Italia. "We're still hoping to open as close to the first as we can. We ran into a little hiccup, a little thing with the CBA and the union. Hopefully, we can get that resolved in the next week and if we can, we might still be able to make that March 1st date."
Italia is confident the company will reach a collective bargaining agreement with the United Mine Workers of America-the union that represents Remington workers.
"Nothing's been signed as of date, but in our discussions, I think we're very close. I don't think what we're looking for is outside the possibilities and I think some reassurances that they're looking for, I think we can grant, so I think we're close enough that we could get there," says Italia.
The hiring back of Remington employees will happen in stages, as lines are added to production.
"We're gonna start line by line so we feel that we need 200 people in the 870 shotgun line which is the most in demand right now....once that's running 100%, then we would start another line. Just to give you a hint, that would be the 700 line," says Italia. "Multiple months, maybe into a year, we're probably looking at a workforce in the 600 to 800 range."
Italia says the offers from other states to lure the plant there were sweet....grants.....tax breaks....but he says there's one asset the others couldn't offer.
"If you had to compare dollar to dollar, it would actually make sense to move to one of these other states, but the workforce is here, so my first intention is to try and save as many of these jobs as I can," says Italia. "If you ask me why we're in Ilion, 100% it's about the people, the employees."
Italia says the complany is talking with the state about building a new facility, because they can't continue to build guns at the out-of-date Remington plant into the future. He says he doesn't plan to be a stranger; he plans to visit the Ilion plant about once a month.