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Foreign Investment in McCreary County Reaches a Whole New Level

By Eugenia Jones

(This week, “The Voice” wraps up a series of articles highlighting “foreigners”-individuals from outside of McCreary County who choose to live and operate businesses here. Our final article spotlights JC Egnew-a “foreigner” from Tennessee who has been a McCreary Countian for more than forty-five years. We also examine Egnew’s McCreary County partnership with Adi Blum, owner and CEO of the Israeli based company, Fibrotex.)
Local businessman JC Egnew came to McCreary County as a “foreigner” in 1972. He grew up in southern Indiana and still recalls his family making their life changing move to Evansville, Indiana.
“To me, Evansville was big city and bright lights,” Egnew shared. “I still remember a neighbor driving us down the street. I’d never seen so many lights.”
As a young adult and engineering student, Egnew worked for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. He eventually left NASA and hopscotched across the South before meeting his wife, Azalie, in southern Mississippi where he worked at a test facility. Later, Egnew moved on to graduate school at the University of Tennessee and work at Campbell Manufacturing in Knoxville. Always looking for new and exciting adventures, Egnew decided to take advantage of opportunities to start his own business. Thanks to a friend with lots of contacts in southern Kentucky, JC soon found his life coming together in Stearns. Egnew, who came to McCreary County as a “foreigner” more than forty-five years ago, stayed in Stearns and truly made McCreary County his home by raising his family, establishing Outdoor Venture Corporation with employment opportunities for locals, and taking an active role in the community.
“Stearns is the center of our universe,” Egnew remarked fondly. “Of all the twisting paths we’ve taken, Stearns is where it all came together. My family is here, and this is where I established the business, watched it diversify, and moved into government contracting.”
Egnew’s latest McCreary County venture, in partnership with Adi Blum (Fibrotex USA), is truly an international one taking the concept of “foreign investment” in McCreary County to a whole new level. After receiving a phone call from a friend urging him to check out Fibrotex Technologies LTD, a family owned, Israeli based company that has overseen development and production of camouflage and deception systems intended for various military and security forces throughout the world for the past thirty years, Egnew began learning about the company. In 2016, after a dinner meeting in Washington, DC, a relationship between Egnew and Fibrotex’s owner and CEO, Adi Blum, blossomed. The connection between the two men eventually culminated in the 2019 establishment of a Fibrotex USA manufacturing facility adjacent to OVC in Stearns. The two facilities work together with Fibrotex making the camouflage fabric needed by OVC to manufacture finished products sold to the government.
“I wrote up what I would like to have in a business partner,” Egnew said. “And that’s what exists today with Adi and Fibrotex. Adi has a strong commitment to success and the employees. When you combine those qualities with the opportunities ahead of us, it’s clear we’ve got a great future together.”
“We’ve tried to keep it simple and avoid unnecessary complexity,” Egnew said of the OVC partnership with Fibrotex. “Here, it’s five or ten minutes to everything, so we keep in close touch with everyone and everything. Once folks knew about Fibrotex, they were anxious to help. We’ve had good success in finding and training local employees. It’s truly a home-grown business. We’ve brought outsiders in to help with training, but our people have stepped up to learn.”
Adi Blum, as Active President of Fibrotex USA, led the Israeli based Fibrotex for fifteen years. In order to establish the USA operation, Blum and his family moved to the United States and established their home in New York City. However, since Blum spends every other week in McCreary County working with production, employees, infrastructure, and all other aspects of the business, he knows McCreary County well.
“I live and breathe here every day every other week,” Blum remarked. “We started production in August 2019, but it was a two year process before we got the award. The local team is doing nice work-they’re stepping up and taking a lot of responsibility. It looks better than I expected it would at this point in time.”
In choosing a location for the Fibrotex USA manufacturing facility, Blum asked several individuals working in the government to provide three to five names of reliable people interested in working with Fibrotex.
“We didn’t have time to investigate thousands of counties in fifty states,” Blum noted. “We wanted to investigate and choose from a short list of people. Choosing a partner wasn’t as much about location as it was about people. You can overcome a bad location, but you can’t overcome people. I wanted a partner with a DNA similar to ours at Fibrotex. I found that in JC and OVC-a family oriented subcontractor with strong employee values. It was also a plus to offer Fibrotex space adjacent to OVC which enables us to work side by side. My choice for a partner was based on chemistry and DNA. It was a reasonable choice. We’re looking for future opportunity.”
Blum has been warmly received in McCreary County.
“I was embraced from the beginning,” Blum noted. “Not just by OVC but from people in general. I am grateful for the hospitality. The people here are genuine and very nice. It shows from the restaurants on up.”
It is obvious Blum takes great interest in his employees. Moving about the production facility, he speaks to workers, calling them by name, shaking their hands, and discussing production details with them. Blum is impressed by the local workforce.
“Here, there are more than several who bring a certain intelligence, a certain commitment, a certain will to step up to their position,” Blum observed. “They have a desire to give more and step outside of the box. It makes me happy and satisfied that most we’ve hired have stayed and want to grow and excel. It’s very nice and calm here. I like it that way. I want them to keep it calm for me. I want to take care of the employees, and I want them to take care of me. If I choose to expand, I want it to be here in McCreary County.”
Blum’s aim is for excellence, and he sees the opportunity for it in McCreary County. To Blum, excellence is achievable.
JC Egnew, is in total agreement.
“We’ve brought people here to train,” Egnew commented proudly. “But our people have stepped up to learn. People from afar sometimes think they can’t get much done down here in southeastern Kentucky. Our journey with Fibrotex is an example of what can be accomplished. Other communities would love to have what we have.”

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