Coeur d'Alene Tribe wins equipment contract with U.S. Army

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (AP) 10-07

A company owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has been awarded a U.S. Army contract to provide collapsible fuel bladders that can hold up to 210,000 gallons of diesel or aircraft fuel.

The contract awarded to Berg Integrated Systems is worth as much as $400 million, tribe officials say.

Coeur d’Alene Tribe Chairman Chief Allan said the contract offered tribe members a chance to “control their own destiny.”

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe set out with a vision to make a real difference in the lives of our membership and the people of northern Idaho,” Allan told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “This contract is a major milestone in our initiative to expand our economic portfolio, while also creating sustainable employment opportunities for our future.”

Berg Integrated Systems currently employs about 30 people, but plans to add at least 40 more workers at a starting wage of about $15 an hour, officials said. Production of the fuel bladders at Berg’s Plummer plant is expected to begin early next year, said John Dickson, Berg’s general manager.

Berg workers spent the last three months developing a production line that will allow the company to make one fuel bladder a day, he said.

“BIS has developed manufacturing technologies for the production of fuel bladders that exist nowhere else in the world,” Dickson said. “We believe that our product will be the best quality, using the best materials for superior performance and support of Army personnel.”

First-year revenue from the 5-year contract is expected to be more than $40 million, tribe officials said. The tribe is negotiating with other branches of the U.S. military in hopes of securing additional contracts.

“This is just the beginning,” Allan said. “We’re looking over the horizon toward the next mountain.”

Ernie Stensgar, a decorated Vietnam veteran and vice chairman of the tribal council, said the contract means more than just economic prosperity.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe and American Indians across the United States have a long and distinguished history of military service,” Stensgar said. “Many of the units from our first shipment will be directly deployed to Army personnel currently in the field, including Native Americans. This contract allows our Tribe to continue that tradition of serving our armed forces.”