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Berg Co. awarded $13.5 million Pentagon contract

Valley company to build efficient combat shelters

A Spokane Valley company will receive a $13.5 million Pentagon contract to produce energy-efficient “combat outposts” to use in Afghanistan and other remote places U.S. troops are sent.

The Berg Co., which has been producing tents for some 130 years, is making lightweight shelters, kitchens and hygiene centers that cut energy use by up to 50 percent and water use by more than 70 percent.

The contract comes from the Defense Department’s Rapid Innovation Fund, which was set up in 2011 to buy and deploy more efficient shelters to combat forces in Afghanistan, Africa and Turkey.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who helped create the fund as part of the 2011 defense budget, will attend a ceremony officially awarding the contract this afternoon with a Defense Department official in charge of energy plans and programs. Details of the contract are also expected to be released today.

The shelters use new and existing technology to increase fuel and water efficiency, Murray’s office said in announcing the contract. Reducing the need for fuel and water resupply reduces the need for convoys and the combat risks associated with them, and cuts cost.

The Berg Co., which started in Spokane in 1883 as F.O. Berg, began by selling tents and equipment to the railroads laying tracks in the Northwest. Its tents sprang up all over the city after the great fire of 1889 incinerated much of Spokane.

It’s one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in the state.

In an interview earlier this year with The Spokesman-Review, Chief Executive Officer Don Myers said the company’s “DNA has always involved remote shelters.”

The U.S. military accounts for about 80 percent of its sales, he said.