Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 13, 2013

Defense start-up moves to N.H.

By Bill Kirk and Alex Lippa, Staff Writers
The Andover Townsman

---- — A Brickstone Square company has grown up and is moving out.

Halo Maritime Defense Systems, which rented office space in the complex for about five years, needed more space for its booming business. About a month ago, it moved into a new, 8,100-square-foot building on Puzzle Lane in Newton, N.H.

“We loved Andover,” said Paul Jensen, a Methuen resident who is CEO of the company. “We had offices in Brickstone Square, but we needed manufacturing space. That was the real driver. It’s for research and development, a place to fit parts, build prototypes, develop things. We wanted all our engineers under one roof.”

Jensen’s company has turned a product invented by a New Jersey man to knock down waves into a product that stops boats intent on harm.

“It’s all about controlling traffic on the water and how to do that,” he said. “Patrol boats and radar are not effective. You need physical security.”

The company custom-designs barriers that don’t tip over and are really good at stopping boats. They can be made in any shape or color, too, So far, Jensen said Halo has done six water tests, including one that had a 3-ton boat going 55 mph and smashing into one of the company’s barriers.

“It stopped in four-tenths of a second,” he said. “For over a decade, people have been trying to put barriers in the water, but they don’t survive. They flip over, get corroded and become a maintenance nightmare. Our (barrier) is plastic, it’s pliable, it doesn’t tip and in the event of rapid impact, transfers the energy from the boat into the water.”

Jensen said one of the reasons for the move to Newton is that the southern New Hampshire site is centrally located for the company’s engineers who live in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Plus, it is relatively close to the University of New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex in New Castle, N.H., he said. The company works with the research center for development and testing of new products.

Jensen said the company also has recently hired employees with graduate degrees from UNH.

The move brings 10 jobs to Newton, but the company plans to hire more by the end of the year.

“They will likely be in financial management, marine engineering or construction,” Jensen said. “We now have the ability to double or even triple our capacity.”

While the company’s Andover location was primarily office space, the Newton location is two-thirds factory space.

“We started in Andover, which is where we got our first contract with the U.S. Navy,” Jensen said. “But we’ve got a number of big opportunities overseas, and we needed a place to do design reviews for our customers.”

He said the company recently got a contract extension with the Navy and is hoping for the stamp of approval from the U.S. military, which will open the floodgates for business from around the world.

“The market is anybody with waterside assets around the world,” Jensen said. “Ports are spending hundreds of billions on maritime security.”