Textron's defense is a good offense
Textron Specialty Materials is weathering the recent decrease in defense spending by finding commercial uses for the high-strength, lightweight composite materials it develops for the federal government.
"We need to focus on taking a defense knowledge base and using it to strengthen our commercial and industrial product lines," said U.S. Rep. Chester Atkins (D-Mass.). "It's a wonderful partnership that feeds both ways."
Textron's strategy since the 1980s has been to hatch an idea for a new composite material, get the government to pay for its development, manufacture it for the government and then commercialize it to double the market. Since long before Massachusetts hit the economic doldrums, and long before the Cold War's demise put a damper on federal defense contracts, Textron has been turning leading-edge technology into commercial successes.