Five million cargo straps have passed through the doors of Cottonwood Inc. in south Lawrence and put in the hands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines alike.
Members of the military, local leaders and politicians and the people behind the scenes celebrated the benchmark together at Cottonwood Monday.
“We thought it would be appropriate to celebrate and thank all the people who work here on the contract, as well as to thank our military for the work that they do each and every day to support American,” Cottonwood CEO Sharon Spratt said.
The nonprofit organization provides jobs for people with disabilities. The group is in its third five-year contract with the Department of Defense for cargo strap production.
“Five million cargo straps is an extraordinary achievement,” said Lt. Col. John Basso, who runs the ROTC program at Kansas University.
Basso noted that everyone in the armed forces has a story about using cargo straps.
“I was talking to my guys this morning and their stories about straps pulling people out of floods in Kansas ... (to) hooking together Humvees that we had to fly underneath a Chinook (helicopter) into a combat circumstance. It’s an incredible product.”
Cottonwood has been making cargo straps for the U.S. government for 11 years and produces up to 4,000 straps a day.
“We had some majors who were here last year touring from Ft. Leavenworth and they said it’s just absolutely vital,” Spratt said. “Don’t leave home without one.”
But the contract to produce the straps doesn’t just help the armed forces. It gives those who work for the organization a chance to earn a living.
“This contract provides an excellent opportunity for them to earn money and to do work,” Spratt said. “All the while, doing something in service for the country as well.”