TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

September 15, 2010

SEKRI provides clothing, more for military

CORBIN — By Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer

If it weren’t for South East Kentucky Rehabilitation Industry, someone else would be furnishing the Army and Air Force with their patrol caps as well as other items of clothing.

That’s what Stan Baker, SEKRI’s purchasing and inventory manager, told the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

Founded in 1971, the company has expanded to locations in Williamsburg, Jellico, Barbourville, Cumberland and Paris from its Corbin location, he said, noting that 75 percent of its workforce of over 600 are severely disabled.

The company began as a way to assist disabled workers just out of high school in finding work, he explained.

He noted that the company has the ability to bid on making items for the government and the government will buy them as long as the company’s bid is no more than six percent of the market price.

That means, he said, if a cap sells publicly for $5, the government will pay SEKRI $5.30.

But selling items to the government is not the final goal of SEKRI, Baker said.

The company’s mission is to train and equip the more than 400 severely disabled workers with skills, training and ability to go to other places and find great opportunities.

And, he said, the company believes, “Everyone has ability, we just have to find it.”

Often the company must design a system or process around the challenges faced by the workers, he said.

He brought samples of clothing the company produces for the defense department including specially designed shirts and trousers, fireproof head-wear, which, he said, has saved many of the troops in the middle east who have been involved in explosives.

SEKRI is the only company that makes the patrol caps worn by the Army and Air Force members and is making clothing with a new camouflage design for patrol wear in Afghanistan that blends better with the surroundings.

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