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High-Tech Ballistics: H.P. White Laboratory

March 2012

A Power Player in Military Testing

Hidden away between farms in Street off Scarboro Road is an unlikely business, H.P. White Laboratory. Owned by Intertek, a global quality safety and solutions provider, H.P. White remains a separate entity due to its heavy ties to the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. military branches. H.P. White offers extensive ballistics resistance and military testing and evaluation services.

Founded in Cleveland by Burt Munhall and Hank White, H.P. White started as a small research and development lab. When White moved to work in Aberdeen, he took his growing business to the East Coast. The business was first housed in a garage on the Street property until 1951. The main building was constructed in 1953 with one ballistics range.

“[H.P. White] has a strong brand and has been around for seven decades,” says Mike Parker, who has served as president of H.P. White Laboratory for more than a year. “By virtue of being here for so long, the reputation is there, and we are respected.”

This spring, H.P. White expands its operations with the completion of a new $750,000, state-of-the-art ballistics facility. Frederick Ward Associates of Bel Air headed up construction of the 2,250-square-foot building that includes a 1,200-square-foot ballistics testing range. The new range offers the most sophisticated environmental controls available for temperature tolerances, air movement and humidity through a control room. Over 45 yards of concrete were used in the new facility, and the range is covered by black, self-healing material. Testing in the new, high-tech facility involves forced entry resistance, stab testing and federal railroad testing.

H.P. White does armor testing for any structure, including ATM enclosures, banks and more. Parker explains that the company is the largest independent ballistics test facility in North America. He says the company also has a 25-yard and 300-yard outdoor range with a sniper tower, and the facilities serve the needs of state and local agencies as well. Parker says local law enforcement use the facilities as needed for training purposes.

Mike Parker, president of H.P. White

“Our business is healthy and we are cautiously optimistic in the face of defense cuts,” Parker says. Crucial business areas at H.P. White entail the testing of firearms and ammunition and armor work. H.P. White handles over 150 test barrels for shotgun, handgun, rifle, machine gun and cannon ammunition calibers, along with a wide range of ammunition types. The company conducts specialized hard armor and helmet evaluations and testing, based on law enforcement needs.

The company also has developed a new standard for measuring areal density. Using leading edge dimensional scanning, H.P. White captures a three-dimensional image of an armor panel for precise areal and areal density measurements. This nondestructive method is more accurate and allows vests to be used for further analysis, such as ballistic limit testing. Parker says that lightweight body armor testing is a large part of H.P. White’s core business and a great deal of business is international.

“We develop scientific methods using laser technology, taking the panel of the vest and using a 3D aerial scan, we get the pounds per square foot and that’s an area we continue to push our development efforts,” Parker elaborates.

# of Employees: 42
Year Founded: 1936
Property size: 140 acres
Ballistics ranges: 9 indoor, 2 outdoor
Tests conducted: Over 1 million
Rounds of ammo onsite: 3 million

Parker remarks that H.P. White’s commodity of exchange, or line of business, is test data. He says that consistency, accuracy and integrity are the most important topics of consideration. “People have come to [H.P. White] for 75 years, and we continually have re-engineering meetings as it relates to our consistency,” Parker says.

Parker has divided his operations into four business teams: readiness, consistency, accuracy and integrity. The readiness team handles environmental conditioning, equipment and making sure everything is ready for testing. The consistency team includes technicians conducting tests and training under a proprietary curriculum. The accuracy team involves the range level and the integrity team consists of supervisors or program managers, overseeing operations involving business areas such as helmets or body armor.

H.P. White employs ex-police officers, former military and will be hiring in the consistency team in the near future. Prospective employment depends on ballistics or testing experience paired with a strong technical aptitude, or prior military or law enforcement since Parker says, “It’s a steep learning curve.” With the new facility and expansion underway at H.P. White, it’s clear that the future looks bright for the ballistics and military testing leader.

DID YOU KNOW: CBS News approached H.P. White in 1967 to recreate a critical moment in history: the John F. Kennedy Assassination. H.P. White simulated the shooter’s scenario, constructed a 60-foot tower and a track for a moving target at a constant speed of 11 mph. Eleven shooters of varying experience fired three shots at the moving target in 5 seconds. I95