Defense contractor goes on offense in rival's turf – The Virginian-Pilot

By Robert McCabe
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 1, 2014

W.S. Darley & Co., an Illinois-based defense contractor, is pitching its tent this week in the backyard of one of its biggest competitors – ADS Inc.

A company trade show, one of four “Darley Defense Days” planned this year in areas teeming with military personnel, opens Wednesday at an Oceanfront hotel in Virginia Beach.

It’s about 5 miles, as the crow flies, from ADS’s headquarters on Lynnhaven Parkway.

“We go to where the customer base is,” said Paul Darley, the company’s president and CEO, who will be in attendance.

A kind of movable feast for Navy SEALs and others in military and law enforcement fields, the event will feature more than 60 special operations and fire/emergency vendors selling everything from flashlights to hydration packs, knives to combat boots.

Darley exhibits at about 90 trade shows a year. At the 15 to 20 of them focused on defense, attendance by military personnel over the last two years is “down drastically,” reflecting pinched travel budgets, Darley said.

“As a result of that, we’re bringing the trade show onto bases and posts,” he added. Other stops this year have included Fort Carson, Colo., and Fort Bragg, N.C. Another is planned at Hurlburt Field in Florida.

ADS is sponsoring a similar “Warrior Expo” event, scheduled for July 10-11 in Virginia Beach.

“ADS is always pleased when distributors present products to our nation’s military, law enforcement, and first responders,” Chris Philbrick, vice president for marketing, wrote in an email.

“We are unbelievably honored and flattered any time the success we have had with our Warrior Expo events are leveraged by other companies.”

In March, the Defense Logistics Agency awarded Darley, ADS and four other contractors the chance to vie for a share of special-ops work valued at up to $10 billion, a deal that could stretch over five years.

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