Pop-up Barricades Cost Up to $40,000 : Burbank Firm Puts Teeth in Embassies’ Anti-Terrorism Control
Delta Scientific products have been popping up all over the United States, tearing into tires and stopping errant drivers who try to park where they shouldn’t.
In the parking business, the company is the biggest maker of tire-puncturing devices.
But that doesn’t generate enough business for Delta so “we make pop-up (anti-terrorist) barricades used at U.S. embassies overseas,” said Harry Dickenson, president and founder of the Burbank firm.
“We’ve done about 140 of them. Tests show they’ll stop an 18-wheel truck going 50 miles an hour.”
Embassies aren’t the only places where Delta installs the anti-terrorist barricades.
“We’ve done about 2,000 installations. The CIA has bought them. The National Archives too,” Dickenson said.
Other Delta barricades greet visitors at a Westinghouse nuclear fuel processing plant in Idaho Falls, Ida., and at a South African nuclear reactor site.
They greet visitors at the Delta Scientific office in Burbank too.
“We don’t expect to use them (here),” said Chris Jung, controller for Delta. “They’re for demonstration purposes. We’ve never run a car into ours. They have been tested by both private laboratories and the government.”
Designed as a second line of defense behind the gates of a guard post, the barricades are wedge-shaped and retractable, covered by a steel skin.
When the gate is open, the barricade lies flush with the street to let vehicles pass. But when the gate is closed, the barricade rises to pose a formidable obstacle.
It was not the pop-up barricade, however, that brought fame to Delta. It was teeth.
Specifically, “Sabre Teeth” traffic controllers, the rows of steel spikes that ensure that people do not drive the wrong way through parking lot entrances.
“Spike units are mainly domestic. There aren’t a lot of countries that need to control traffic like they do here. In England, they’re not allowed under law,” Jung said.
“We dominate the market,” Dickenson said, pointing out that Delta produces more than 90% of the pop-back spikes in use in American parking lots, drive-in movies and freeway entrances.
Delta also produces a device similar to a 5-inch-high curb for placement between lanes motorists aren’t supposed to cross--for installations where traffic control is desired, but shredded tires are not.
“Only the most dedicated wrong-way driver will challenge this unit,” Dickenson quipped.
Dickenson started the business in his garage in Glendale in 1974. Today, sales amount to $8.5 million a year. About 75% of those revenues derive from sales of the “counterterrorist vehicle barricade systems.”
Delta began making the barricades in 1977 and has cornered more than 95% of the market, profiting on fears raised by a series of car and truck bombings at U.S. facilities in Lebanon, Jung said.
Security doesn’t come cheap. A Delta Scientific-made barricade designed to stop determined terrorists will cost between $20,000 and $40,000.
Western Manufacturing Co. of Bottineau, N.D., makes similar barriers at a cost of between $4,000 and $12,000, but Delta says the products are not comparable. “It’s an engineering difference,” said Jung. “They don’t have the crash resistance of ours.”
“We build motorized security gates that go across the roadway,” Jung continued. “Other companies just make gates you can ram right through. Ours will stop a car.”