AO Eyewear, Inc., a manufacturer of Original Pilots, aviator sunglasses worn by members of the U.S. military, plans to renovate its 12,000 square foot manufacturing center in Southbridge, Massachusetts, and purchase manufacturing equipment.
MassDevelopment assisted the firm with its expansion by issuing a $1.5 million tax-exempt bond help defray the cost of improvements. AO Eyewear plans to add additional equipment, which includes a fully automatic rim-forming machine, an ultrasonic cleaning system, self-contained frame washing stations, and two fully automatic frame induction soldering lines.
In 2012, the company set a goal to move production and jobs back from China and have its product made 100 percent in the United States, and this equipment and renovation will assist in that objective. AO Eyewear estimates this project will create 15 jobs in Southbridge. Southbridge Savings Bank purchased the bond.
“Bringing manufacturing back to the United States is an important part of AO Eyewear’s long-term business model. MassDevelopment and Southbridge Savings Bank have been key factors in the financing aspect of that plan. We are proud to be a part of the reshoring initiative and look forward to hiring more people while our business grows,” said AO Eyewear President/Owner Alan McKinley.
“AO Eyewear is part of a small but growing trend known as reshoring, in which U.S. manufacturers bring back jobs and production from overseas,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We’re pleased to support companies like AO Eyewear and promote advanced manufacturing as an attractive career path through the AMP it up! campaign.”