Hartford company to sell bullet-proof whiteboards
EVERWhite motivated by a demand for more protection in schools

By Nicholas Dettmann

Sept. 27, 2018

General Manager Jim Muth runs his hand across one of the 72-inch ballistic whiteboards on display in the lobby Tuesday afternoon at EVERWhite in Hartford. The company is producing bulletproof whiteboards to be used in active shooter situations in schools.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — Jim Muth, general manager of EVERWhite, wishes he didn’t have to develop bullet-proof and portable whiteboards.

But he’ll be proud he and his colleagues did if they save a life someday.

EVERWhite, 1480 Independence Ave., Hartford, is set to roll out the whiteboards to consumers by the end of October or early November. The product stems from customer demand for more protection for teachers and students.

“It’s about saving lives,” Muth said.

EVERWhite, a whiteboard manufacturer and online retailer, in 2017 moved into a 30,000-squarefoot facility in Hartford to accommodate for increased demand for its dry-erase boards, used by schools, universities, health care facilities, businesses and sports teams.

EVERWhite is a division of Menomonee Falls-based Glenroy, which makes flexible packaging film and pouches.

At the Menomonee Falls site, space reached capacity, so the purchase was made for a facility in the industrial park near Quad/ Graphics. Once settled into the new facility, EVERWhite representatives began to explore new product ideas to offer to customers.

After 17 students and staff members were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February, EVERWhite heard the desire for some kind of protection in classrooms from its customers and decided to enter a new market: ballistic protection.

A blog post on EverWhite’s website cited a July CNN story that said the education sector of the security market grew $2.7 billion last year, up from $2.5 billion in 2015. Plus, schools using video surveillance grew to 70 percent in 2013, up from 20 percent in 1999 — the year of the Columbine, Colorado, shooting.

It’s a sad and unfortunate reality, Muth said.

“Wish we didn’t need it at all,” he said. “We talk to customers frequently and when it comes to that kind of situation, in the classroom, they have little to no protection. There’s not much shelter in classrooms.”

In response, EVERWhite developed a product called MOBILEGuard.

According to the production description, the system can resist rounds from weapons ranging from .22-caliber used in small arms to 7.62mm cartridges used in rifles, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons.

The MOBILEGuard Ballistic Panel System consists of connectable panels of layered ballistic materials with EVERWhite’s magnetic whiteboard surfaces or cork boards on both sides.

The boards are heavy at a couple hundred pounds, but wheels help make the boards moveable.

“From the standpoint of ballistics, there’s so many different categories or threats and not all are guns,” Muth said. “There could be blasts and other types of threats besides ballistics. Primarily, we learned to look to the experts to give us the standards to test to, to design to; there’s different technologies out there. Some are having advantages and disadvantages of each other, so we had to work through those.

“How do we blend it to make it where people really don’t know or it’s not obvious that it’s ballistic material?”

The boards come in two sizes and various colors. One board is 78 inches high by 56.5 inches wide and the other board is shorter — 54 inches high by 62.5 inches wide.

The panels can also have wings installed that, with a locking mechanism, can be placed in a doorway to prevent entry by an intruder with a gun.

Muth said it’s not 100 percent protection from a gunman, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

Once the new product goes public, Muth said, jobs will be added, with more jobs likely once production in Hartford gets going.

The state has distributed money in recent months to school districts to be used for security upgrades. Muth said local schools and districts can use that grant money on the MOBILEGuard.

While it is bullet protection, the panels are just like dry-erase boards that can be custom made to include designs such as cartoon characters.

At a safety conference in Orlando, Florida, Muth said the MOBILEGuard received high praise.

“We got a great response,” he said. “The comments were ‘This is genius.’ ‘This is a great idea and well needed.’”