By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Gridiron heroes from youth football programs to the National Football League will soon be wearing helmets made in Detroit.
Massachusetts-based Xenith moved its assembly facilities to Detroit in February – through the collaboration of a number of local businesses – and is in the process of ramping up production of its five-star safety rated helmets.
“We are going to make helmets in Detroit … and we are gong to create jobs in Detroit,” said Fathead CEO Patrick McInnis, who helped facilitate bringing Xenith – which is part of the Rock Ventures Family of Companies – to the city. “Xenith is the Shinola of football helmets.”
The move from the east coast a 65,000-square-foot facility on West Fort Street in Detroit, and was announced Tuesday, was made possible by a collaboration of companies including Fathead, James Group International, Lear Corporation, Rock Ventures and Sturgis Molded Products.
Inside the refurbished industrial building, which is owned by James Group International, helmets and clips manufactured in Sturgis are shipped and begin the assembly process.
Each helmet is made to specification of the customer and are painted and assembled along a specially designed assembly line. Xenith performs the annual refurbishment of helmets on site, and performs safety testing in Detroit.
Company officials expect the workforce to grow to nearly 70 full-time workers to assemble, recondition and paint helmets. At peak production in the coming months, Xenith expects to produce more than 1,000 five-star helmets per day to be used by football players on youth leagues, high school, college and NFL teams.
Joe Esposito, Xenith CEO, cited Detroit’s location for shipping its products, affordable space and talented workforce as positive reasons for the move from the East Coast.
“The can do attitude of the people of Detroit are really driving the operation,” said Esposito, who called all the factors “a win-win for all of us.”