Defense industry contractors that made billions of dollars off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now have to shift focus and find new markets as one war has ended and another war is winding down. As deployed troop levels overseas drop from 66,000 to 32,000 in Afghanistan by next year and to 15,000 by 2014, contractors are looking for new civilian applications for their wartime technologies:
Skydex, makers of blast-absorbing floor decking in mine-resistant personnel carriers, relies on military contracts for about 90 percent of its income and the commercial market for the remaining 10 percent. By mid-2014, the company projects a 50-50 split. Its new shoe, designed for bootcamp-style workouts is the first step in this evolution.
The company created its trademark twin-hemisphere padding in the late 1970s for sporting goods but was immediately solicited by the military. Skydex then licensed its plastic cushion system to Nike, which the well-known shoe company used for its Nike Air technology. Now, the 31-employee company is feverishly innovating and testing new uses for its technology.