For roughly two decades, the Zodiac has been the U.S. military's choice for inflatable rubber rafts. These rafts, especially the high-end model F470, are not the recreational rafts you take out to the lake on a Sunday, says Lionel Boudeau, the head of Zodiac's North America operations.
"It is used for a large variety of missions, like assault landings, infiltration and exfiltration," he says. "It can be deployed from the shore or deployed from the air by an aircraft, a helicopter, by a submarine. It is used by special forces and regular Army."
Steinway & Sons, the 160-year-old musical instrument maker, is set to change hands.
Last month, a private equity firm emerged as the company's likely buyer. But a mystery bidder — rumored to be hedge fund manager John Paulson — has swooped in at the last minute, and now looks likely to take control of one of the oldest manufacturers in the United States. Paulson made billions betting against the housing market at a time when many thought housing prices could only go up. His reported offer for the company is $458 million.
The headquarters of Fulcrum Acoustic is only an hour outside Boston, but finding the audio company can be tricky:Its address in Whitinsville, a quaint former industrial village in Massachusetts' Blackstone Valley, doesn't register on GPS. Fulcrum's founder, Dave Gunness, opened his workshop here five years ago and says people still have trouble finding it.
Defense manufacturers worldwide are facing tough times ahead, as tight budgets force Western governments to cut spending. But while the West is cutting back, developing countries around the world are spending more on defense — a lot more.
Last fall, defense contractors warned of massive layoffs if the U.S. government enacted the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Now, sequestration is in effect, but job losses are limited, in part because many Pentagon contracts were already in place and will keep assembly lines rolling for much of this year.
Brushes are pretty simple: a bunch of flexible fibers sticking out of something stiff. Not surprisingly, Chinese manufacturers have grabbed a big share of the U.S. brush market. But several hundred small U.S. brush factories are still hanging on. Here are three strategies they're using to survive.