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Execs: Fear of terror attacks fuels demand for window security film

Conal Owens, an installer at CHB Industries, demonstrates

Conal Owens, an installer at CHB Industries, demonstrates window security film that prevents glass shards from flying on Jan. 25, 2018. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Fears of terrorist attacks are fueling increased demand for window security film from Long Island schools and houses of worship, executives say.

Dan Venet, executive vice president and co-founder of Smithtown-based CHB Industries Inc., said orders for the film, which can make glass harder to break through or ensure that dangerous shards don’t fly if the glass is shattered by an explosion, climbed about 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same period the previous year.

“The level of attention [to potential attacks] has increased,” he said.

Venet said concerns about terrorism typically spike in the aftermath of events such as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the 9/11 airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001.

For instance, following the October Islamic State-inspired truck attack that killed eight people in lower Manhattan, Venet said the company was contacted by a luxury condominium building in the area with “extensive ground-level glass.”

Demand for window security film “has now made its way into sectors of society that we had not anticipated previously,” such as residential and commercial buildings that are near potential targets, he said. “You don’t need to be the focus of the attack to suffer the consequences.”

But he said last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has not brought in new inquiries.

Venet said security film accounts for about 50 percent of CHB’s business. Another 30 percent is graphics and signage, while the remainder are anti-graffiti treatments and solar control to regulate light and temperature. The company, founded by Venet and majority owner Carol Borow in June 1990, has 36 employees, half on Long Island and the remainder divided between Chicago and Philadelphia.

The company uses films, typically made of polyethylene terephthalate, a widely used polyester, from a variety of manufacturers to suit each job’s requirements, Venet said.

Steve Pesce, president and owner of another window film company, Farmingdale-based New York Window Film Co. Inc., said the bulk of his company’s business is installing film to prevent fabric colors from fading in homes and provide privacy and solar control for businesses. Though his company does few security installations, he agreed that schools’ demand for security film is strong.

“A lot of schools are using it,” Pesce said.

Venet said that before installing security film, CHB seeks to evaluate the potential threat: whether the structure is likely to be a target of opportunity or the focus of a planned attack; how an attack could unfold; the timing and frequency of occupancy, and how security film or bullet-resistant glass fits an overall security plan of locks, video cameras and security personnel.

For instance, certain types of film are anchored to the window frame and are designed to deter entry by an attacker who could be wielding a tire iron.

Other installations are designed to protect occupants from “weaponized” glass shrapnel from an explosion, Venet said.

Venet put CHB’s annual revenue at $7 million to $8 million.

He declined to name specific installation sites but said that although bulletproof film “simply doesn’t exist,” bullet-resistant glass from other contractors can be installed.

In 2017, the company’s largest project was a $2.7 million installation for the Manhattan building of a “quasi-governmental entity,” Venet said. The installation, in development for more than a year, is designed to protect against forced entry, a bomb blast, solar heat and electronic eavesdropping. Electronic eavesdropping can be curbed by using films that trap radio signals inside the building and defend against systems that pick up conversations from window glass vibrations, he said.

Venet acknowledged that even robust defenses are not foolproof.

“If we can buy time for the occupants of a school or house of worship or a financial institution, we’ve done our job,” he said.

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