published Thursday, June 12th, 2014

U.S. Cavalry boost to Alton Park, officials say

Emerson Russell is president of ERMC.
Emerson Russell is president of ERMC.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A company that supplies clothing to the military and law enforcement has shifted its headquarters from Kentucky to Chattanooga with hopes that its new operations can help bolster Alton Park.

"I wanted to help revitalize this area," said Chattanooga businessman Emerson Russell, whose company ERMC has bought U.S. Cavalry and relocated its home operations from outside Fort Knox, Ky., to the former Big Horn Saddle building on 38th Street.

Kathryn Russell, who heads the ERMC division that oversees U.S. Cavalry, said that business also is carrying out light manufacturing in the building. She said ERMC has invested about $3.7 million into the acquired business to date.

Larry Dismukes, president of U.S. Cavalry, said the company has hired about 25 people so far with plans to be up to 55 in three years.

He said two acquisitions over the past few years by the company, which started in 1973, have helped push annual revenues to about $30 million and there's potential for far more.

With the economy improving, police departments are hiring officers again, Dismukes said. He said the military business is "in transition" as the U.S. scales back overseas operations.

U.S. Cavalry has applied for Historically Underserved Business Zone, or HUBZone, designation from the U.S. Small Business Administration for its Alton Park location.

For locating to an underserved area and employing low income residents, businesses gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. The company said that about 90 percent of its employees live in the surrounding area.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, in a statement, called ERMC "a good neighbor by choosing to expand U.S. Cavalry in a sometimes overlooked area of our community."

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the decision to expand U.S. Cavalry "strengthens the Alton Park neighborhood, creating opportunity for the surrounding community as well as the city as a whole."

Ron Harr, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, told the Mayor's Business Breakfast that the new jobs will help push the business group's Chattanooga Can Do economic development initiative close to its four-year 5,000 job goal with 14 months to go. He said the campaign has recorded 4,630 jobs to date.

"I think we'll make 5,000 fairly easily," Harr said.

Chattanooga-based ERMC, which carries out surveillance and monitoring, security, building maintenance, and janitorial services, now employs 6,600 people in 46 states, including 600 in Chattanooga.

Emerson Russell, who founded ERMC, said his company generated revenues last year of $180 million and ERMC added about $12 million in new business in the first quarter of this year to likely push overall sales even higher this year.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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