Case Studies

Bonded Lightning Protection Systems

Bonded by faith and work ethic

As Heath Howe spoke with Blueprint earlier this year, one could hear thunder in the background.

Seems that from his office in the northern Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Argyle, Texas, there was one of those frequent storms commencing that Howe’s employer, Bonded Lightning Protection Systems, may regard as free advertising.

Heath Howe – Bonded Lightning Protection Systems

“There’s another reminder as to why we’re needed,” said Howe, Bonded’s director of sales since 2011 and a member of the venerable, family-owned and faith-based company since 1993.

Meanwhile something else was booming: The construction industry in Texas as well as the other Southern and Western states where Bonded strives to safeguard new and existing structures against bolts from out of the blue.

With so much money being sunk into residential, industrial, and commercial developments, Howe reminded that it only makes sense for a builder to invest a modest amount more to protect those costly new buildings.

Furthermore, given that this part of the country is especially prone to lightning strikes, upon receiving a storm-related claim, some insurance carriers may not even renew a policy unless further protections are in place. Other firms may give a break on properties well-grounded against lightning. At any rate, prospective clients may complete a free risk analysis on the Bonded website and take it from there.

“We’re more investment than we are an expense,” Howe assured.

Good reputation spreads

Most of Bonded’s work—up to 80 percent—comes from its relationships with electrical contractors who can attest for the need for such protection.

Earlier this year, the company’s new Nashville outpost began installing a system for the Virgin Hotel anticipated to open in September 2019. With Tennessee springs and autumns characterized by severe thunderstorms, Richard Branson isn’t taking any chances with his planned 240-room palace and its 10,000 square feet of meeting space as well as rooftop bar and pool, all within walking distance of Music City Row, the Grand Ole Opry and other Nashville attractions.

Heath Howe – Bonded Lightning Protection Systems

Others should follow Branson’s model, reminded Howe. Wherever their structure might be.

It’s a misperception that lightning singles out high structures; low-lying areas are equally at risk. Regardless of susceptibility, all it takes is one strike to cause extensive damage. Bolts are unpredictable and don’t discriminate, explained Howe, whose professional credentials include the being the former president of the United Lightning Protection Association, and being a certified presenter for the Lightning Safety Alliance that advocates for safety and education.

“A church can’t protect its steeple only,” he said, adding that a lightning bolt looks for the least resistive path to the ground. “There are secondary flashes. I’ve seen a lot of houses destroyed and it wouldn’t have happened had they had the right lightning protection system.”

But while the basics of lightning protection haven’t changed much since the days of Benjamin Franklin, with copper and aluminum still the most effective ways of grounding a building, installing such a system is a job best left to a specialist.

Its design and installation standards meeting the codes of the Lightning Protection Institute, the National Fire Protection Association and the Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Howe said Bonded is committed to providing the highest quality protection and peace of mind.

Blessed and bonded

Its work force recently expanded with the Nashville opening, the company is doubly blessed by the economic rebound and the emphasis that prudent builders are putting on safety. And indeed the company feels blessed: Now in its second generation of family ownership, Bonded has never shied from promoting its Christian ethic that President David Riley finds so complementary with its business model.

Howe certainly concurred.

“Our core values are our strengths,” he said. “We’re Christ-centered, honest, faithful and a servant team. They are the guiding principles for everything we do.”

And active on the charitable front.

Bonded operates and contributes to a nonprofit foundation, the aptly titled Bonded Together Inc. that conducts blood drives, bake and garage sales, and food drives, with proceeds benefiting multiple area charities.

Heath Howe – Bonded Lightning Protection Systems

But blessed as they are at Bonded, sometimes the company could use more secular help.

Howe echoed a sentiment that’s become common among the companies that depend upon skilled labor: Not enough young men and women seem to realize the opportunities for growth in such a trade.

And opportunities do arise at Bonded, with the company rewarding its staff with competitive wages and benefits as well as a family atmosphere conducive to extracurricular activities, the charity front being just one. The company that was founded in North Texas has since maintained satellites in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Atlanta and, of course, Nashville. Its crews are active in other states—among them Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and the Carolinas.        

When Howe spoke with Blueprint, he went on to describe an apprenticeship program that could lead to a rewarding career as an installation technician. Meanwhile the listener could hear more thunder.

Just another reminder of the need for Bonded’s expertise, he mused.

Published on: May 7, 2018

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