Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen visited Chantilly-based First Line Technology, a small business defense contractor, Tuesday to discuss possible defense cuts.
Federal budget cuts of $1 trillion could occur in January if Congress does not reach a compromise on the federal budget. , including First Line Technology.
Allen, campaigning for his old seat in the U.S. Senate, discussed those concerns with Amit Kapoor, president of First Line Technology, and Randy Sakowitz, vice president. Allen asked them what concerns they had with the current budget situation.
Kapoor voiced his concerns about the Department of Defense not being able to purchase the products First Line Technology produces. With budget uncertainties, he said he is unsure whether to invest in developing and producing new products and continuing to expand his business.
“We’re looking to grow,” Kapoor said. “We’re looking to expand, to double in size in the next year if we know the Department of Defense will be able to buy the products we have… But do we hire now? Do we hire later? Do we wait?”
Allen discussed government contracts with Kapoor and Sakowitz, as well as private contracts the business engages in. Both voiced problems they have experienced with continuing resolutions. Kapoor said it makes it difficult to prepare shipments because when the government does receive money it wants products delivered in a very short period of time.
“It’s such an inefficient, terrible way to run a government,” Allen said. “My view is if [Congress doesn’t] get appropriations bills done in time… you withhold their pay. You withhold members pay.”
First Line Technology produces a variety of equipment for military personnel and first responders. One of the products Kapoor and Sakowitz showed off on Tuesday were PhaseCore Cooling Vests, used by members of the military stationed overseas. The heat-activated cooling vests help prevent over-heating.
First Line Technology also produces a product called AmbuBus, which is a crate that contains products to fit an already-existing school bus or train into an ambulance. Seats are removed within the vehicle and it is fitted with stretchers for up to 18 people.
“The point of all of this is that the Department of Defense does want your product,” Allen said. “The only problem is that you have no idea with all this uncertainty and this deal that will have all these devastating cuts to defense… whether they will actually be able to buy it from you.”
In all, 10 people are employed by First Line Technology. All products are designed and manufactured in the United States, with most of its final products being assembled at the First Line Technology office in Chantilly. According to its Web site, this is an ideal location because it is designed for quick disaster response to the D.C. area and the entire country. First Line has a response time of 48 hours, to send its products to almost any location.
Allen said the potential "sequestration," which the possible cuts have been called, would be devastating to the national defense. He said he considers national defense a “paramount responsibility” of the federal government.
Following the discussion, Allen toured the facility with Kapoor and Sakowitz. He tried on a PhaseCore Cooling Vest and toured an AmbuBus. First Line has a demonstration bus on site, fitted with stretchers.