Not Just a Hose Company

The Post-Standard - Syracuse, New York

By: Charley Hannagan, Staff writer
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Napoleon Bonaparte said an army marches on its stomach.

The people who work for JGB Enterprises Inc. know that the American armed forces can't get anywhere unless they have water and fuel.

They supply that need with water- and fuel-distribution systems, shave stands, washers and dryers, tanks to hold clean water and tanks to carry the wastewater away.

Recently, the company stepped up its work with the military. It won a $40 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to make a water purification and distribution system that will serve 3,300 people using 30 gallons of water per person per day.

That contract places the company on the cusp of getting other large government contracts for water- and fuel-distribution systems, said Stephon Starrantino, JGB vice president.

"The scope of experience that we're getting on this contract will really put us in a great position with the government to bid on more comprehensive contracts," he said.

About 80 percent of JGB's work serves the military. Twenty years ago, most of the company's work was in building hoses and fittings for companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Carrier Corp., Chrysler and Kodak, Starrantino said.

In 1981, company founder Jay Bernhardt recognized that JGB's high standards could help it win government contracts that set strict standards for product quality, Starrantino said.

While the privately held company has grown at a 5 percent to 7 percent rate yearly, growth accelerated when the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, he said.

Sales in the last four years grew about $25 million, and the company is on track to earn $65 million in sales this year, Starrantino said.

"In the war effort, our capabilities have been called on," he said. "In the theater, you have to be able to move fuels. You have to move water for kitchen facilities. You have to have water for drinking. You have to have water for hygiene. You have to have fuel to run the equipment.

"These two components give the troops survivability. Without it, you're not going to be effective."

JGB sees its future growing beyond the military and into disaster relief.

The company supplied to New Orleans two washer-dryer systems that normally serve troops in the field to meet the laundry requirements of people living in civilian camps following Hurricane Katrina, Starrantino said.