Uptown Greenville, NC


Firm Finds Niche Providing Electromagnetic Protection

By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

March 2, 2013 - A company need not be global in size to succeed in the global marketplace, a maxim proven by a Pitt County-based electronics technology firm introducing a new version of an old product: the lightning rod.

Lawrence Behr, founder of LBA Group, Inc., has been carving out niches in the worldwide technology services industry for 50 years. His innovations continue to emerge from Greenville directly onto the world market.

Behr and his group of about 20 employees provide electromagnetic protection for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets from a 20,000-square-foot plant on Tupper Road. LBA Group is comprised of LBA Technology Inc., a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial, and government users worldwide; the professional engineering consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc.; and LBA University, Inc. providing on-site and online professional training.

On Jan. 31, LBA introduced a new series of lightning air terminal devices to protect sensitive outdoor and mobile electronic, communication and mechanical assets. The series adds a critical step, Behr said, in the quest to put lightning where it belongs, in the ground.

“Lightning masts and air terminal extenders are a new product family for us, but they’re being well-accepted,” Behr said.

Conventional practice has been to place lightning rods or air terminals directly on the structure of outdoor air conditioning units, control boxes, antennas, CCTV, stacks, chimneys and lighting masts. This type of arrangement permits lightning strike charges to flow not only through the mast or structure, but through its attached sensitive equipment as well.

Control boxes for equipment like municipal water pumps that sit out in the open now contain highly sophisticated computerized mechanisms and are more vulnerable than the pumps they operate.

“Thirty years ago, these mechanically operated devices could more readily shrug off lightning strikes, but not today,” Behr said.

The lightning masts and extenders are new for LBA; they specialize in the wider field of protecting unusual assets from radio frequency-related issues.

“Our business is to manage the safe application of electromagnetic energy,” Behr said. “So much of today’s equipment has embedded electronics that are far more sensitive than those of 30 years ago. As these (software or hardware systems that have been superseded and becoming obsolete) are being phased out in favor of the new ones, there is much more vulnerability to events like solar flares, lightning and other phenomena that create large pulses of energy.”

Several products that LBA fabricates and distributes are used at high-power broadcast stations in Saudi Arabia and other countries, including Paraguay and Costa Rica. Domestically, LBA just completed the design of protective boxes for the electronics at 30 locations along the new Minneapolis, Minn., light rail system.

The U.S. Navy purchased 80 of the lightning masts to protect many of its radio installations, Behr said, and the company designed radio frequency shielding for the protection of highly sensitive operations, including a large building renovated to serve as a district headquarters within the Homeland Security Department in Washington, D.C.

Behr’s company conducts most of its business activities online, continually developing programs that provide radio frequency-related safety training to manufacturing and operating organizations around the world, for an almost endless array of applications.

“A very big portion of our activities now relate to the wireless and cellular arena, providing safety compliance-related services for the very complex construction and operation of the towers, and allowing them to operate without interfering with one another,” Behr said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9571.