SKOWHEGAN — Bill and Julie Swain traveled to Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, last summer as the company held an open call event in search of American-made products to sell in its stores.

While there, they ran into Wal-Mart President and CEO Greg Foran in the building’s lobby and took advantage of the moment.

“We were able to give the president our sales pitch right there in the lobby,” Swain said. “And we thought, ‘I think it went pretty well.'”

The pitch paid off. Wednesday, the first of 11 pallets of Tick Repelling Safety Dog Vests made by the Swains’ Dog Not Gone Visibility Products were loaded onto the truck to be shipped to nearly 200 Wal-Mart stores nationwide. In all, 800 blaze-orange safety vests for dogs were loaded into trucks at the company’s factory on Dane Avenue.

“Today is proof positive that it did go very well,” Swain said as local business leaders and officials, as well as representatives from Susan Collins and Angus King’s U.S. Senate offices helped load the truck. “We thought this was a pretty special event because we are a very small family business and thought it was appropriate to celebrate it a little bit.”

The Swains bought the former Dirigo Stitching factory early in 2015, and opened last March, making the safety vests originally designed for dogs, horses and other domestic animals as a way to keep animals from being mistaken for deer or moose during hunting season.

While they have state and regional customers, the Wal-Mart contract is the company’s first national one, Swain said.

Michael Hersey of the state Department of Economic and Community Development helped out, maneuvering a pallet jack from a loading dock into the back of the waiting tractor-trailer.

“I couldn’t be happier today – to see a rebirth of the textile industry here in the Skowhegan area,” said Hersey. “It was great to put Maine-made products in the truck – things don’t get much better than this.”

The Swains bought the 45,000-square-foot Skowhegan building and stitching-related machinery with a mix of federal Community Development Block Grant money and private financing a year ago. Since then, their company has gone from 11 to 22 employees.

Swain said the Wal-Mart contract could open the door to greater national sales for both Dog Not Gone and their connected company, Maine Stitching Specialties.

“This opportunity has been really good for us because we can get our process and our supply chain established and then ramp it up,” Swain said.

The Swains’ dog, Max, modeled one of the vests.