August 2018 – If you’ve never heard of Support Enterprises, Inc., you’re not alone. “We’re a very well-kept secret,” says Gary Neel, production manager. Yet their products are known around the world. Thousands of tourniquet holders for military and law enforcement personnel, Individual First Aid Kits for U.S. Marines. Cargo straps used for military aerial drops−they bought a specialized machine specifically to manufacture them.
Their industrial sewing shop also produces police vests and trauma bags for first responders in their hometown of Jamestown.
Support Enterprises is a for-profit company owned by Filling the Gap, a non-profit organization which supports the development of services for Chautauqua County residents who are poor, distressed and underprivileged, especially people with disabilities.
With 38 employees, Support Enterprises is located on Jones & Gifford Avenue, near The Resource Center. Support Enterprises makes specialty items with industrial sewing machines.
Support Enterprises benefits from small business set-asides, contracts set aside by the Small Business Administration that must be awarded to small businesses to help them compete for the $500 billion in goods and services the federal government buys from the private sector each year.
Support Enterprises uses military-grade materials, they also manufacture duffle bags, totes, and backpacks for the civilian market. Need a tote to carry firewood into the house or a cover for your cord? They can help. How about a cycle sack to cover a motorcycle? There are tool bags in three sizes, sturdy tote bags for the post plastic bag era, a tool belt, and an external frame backpack. All are available in their e-commerce store, tankbagsusa.com. Feel-good All American made, right here in Western New York, supporting people with disabilities.
With New York State’s looming ban on plastic bags, Support Enterprises is experiencing increased sales of its reusable grocery tote bags. The bags come in three sizes and feature dual-reinforced webbing handles; interior sewn seams for enhanced durability; and military-grade, 500-denier material. The bags are made with the same material and webbing Support Enterprises uses in the manufacture of products for the U.S. Armed Forces. The bags are eco-friendly, stylish and washable.
The bags are available for purchase online here or by stopping by the manufacturing facility of Support Enterprises, 85 Jones & Gifford Avenue.
Despite its current emphasis on grocery totes, Support Enterprises’ primary customers are not at the household level, but U.S. Military, law enforcement agencies, corporations, businesses and manufacturers, along with storefront and catalog retailers.
Businesses or agencies seeking a new product can bring in their ideas, even if they are not sure of all the details. The company design team can take an idea or just a concept and turn it into a prototype, then a finished product. Services also include embroidery and silk screening.
Support Enterprises puts profits back into organizations like TEAM Services, which provides medical and community transportation services, and New Vision Services, which assists in the mental and physical development, habilitation, rehabilitation, employment, support and service coordination.
Apropos of Jamestown, Neel brings a background in furniture to his current position but also the automotive and food industries. All involve running the production end of an industry, he says.