Supergum Industries' gas masks 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Supergum Industries, manufacturer of gas masks for the Israeli public, is unsure
of its future, a senior company executive told The Jerusalem Post this week.
This followed reports that the Defense Ministry was leaning toward ending the
distribution of masks.
Last week, defense sources attributed the
ministry’s stance to an assessment that the chemical weapons threat against
Israel had declined, although some critics said budgetary constraints were the
Currently, 60 percent of the population is equipped with a
Any decision to cancel further production will have a direct
impact on Supergum, which manufactures the masks at its factory in the Barkan
Industrial Zone in Samaria. The company might have to let go of hundreds of
Only last August it received orders from the Defense Ministry to
increase its rate of production. It will likely seek compensation for raw
material and contracts with suppliers if it receives a cease-production
“If they decide there’s a new situation in the Middle East and
that the threat is gone, and if they reach a considered decision to stop
production, I can’t fight that,” Gilad Golan, the Supergum executive, told The
A former head of the IDF Home Front Command’s gas mask
section, Golan said he was all too familiar with past production halts. They
“caused chaos” and “ended up in price rises,” he explained “Prior to August we
had orders coming in and activated one shift a day,” he said. “In the middle of
August we doubled our workload, and the number of gas masks [the ministry]
wanted meant we were working 24-hours a day and on weekends.
new staff were recruited. We ordered new components and raw
This was the situation until last week, when we heard in the
media that it might stop. We were totally surprised.”
Now the company has
slowed down its production schedule so that it can complete existing ministry
orders by a year from now.
“We don’t know what our status is. We’re not
getting answers. Our fear is to wake up one morning and find that everything is
cancelled,” Golan said.
“Industries can’t open and close on a whim. You
have to stock up on supplies and link up with new suppliers,” he
“The suppliers are calling us to try and make sure nothing
happened. We’re under big pressure.”
He expressed hope that
decision-makers would wait at least a year before deciding what to do, and said
that the original decision to distribute gas masks had come from an assessment
that a future war would give no advance warning.
Some 200 employees will
be sent home if production is stopped, he said, comparing the factory’s
workforce to a “military unit.”
“Before it is ready it has to mobilize
and train soldiers,” he explained. “We took 100 new employees and trained them
for increased gas mask production. Someone has to tell us that this situation is