Mine Safety Appliances (MSA) has been one of Jacksonville’s longest serving employers. Located at 352 White Street, MSA moved into one of the community’s first publicly constructed buildings by the economic development office. Back in 1979, MSA considered Jacksonville, NC because of its location and workforce. However, it was the existing building that guaranteed the expansion. As plant manager Joey Carter often tells people, “While there are not a large number of manufacturers in Jacksonville/Onslow County, many of those that are here came because there was a building available.” What started as a 43,000 square foot facility has expanded to over 100,000 square feet, making it one of the largest industrial buildings in Onslow County.
Known as The Safety Company, MSA has been developing, manufacturing, and supplying sophisticated safety products that protect people and facility infrastructures around the world. At the Jacksonville location, MSA produces respiratory and fall protection products as well as Cairns fire helmets. Their product line is used by workers around the world in a broad range of markets, including the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, the fire service, the construction industry, mining, and the military.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of equipment MSA of Jacksonville manufacturers is the Cairns leather fire helmet, built similarly to when it was first introduced over 175 years ago. While many of the leather helmets made today are for ceremonial purposes, most of them carry modern certifications allowing them to be used in active service. MSA Jacksonville handcrafts over 6,000 leather helmets annually which is in addition to the over 80,000 composite style fire helmets produced by this facility each year.
The Jacksonville plant employs over 150 regular employees with temporary help brought on when required. Plant Manager, Joey Carter, makes it a point to allow employees to regularly retrain and learn different skills throughout the facility. “One of our biggest successes is finding employees who will remain with the organization for the long haul. We still have many active employees who were original hires when the plant opened in 1979. Most of these have learned different skills through the years allowing them to grow with the facility and continue to contribute to our success.”