KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. —
More and more parents are looking for ways to protect their children while they're at school, and their research is leading them to a North Carolina company's product that turns a backpack into a bullet-proof shield.
For Frank Stewart, the owner of Premier Body Armor in Kings Mountain, protection is a passion.
“My previous life I was a defense contractor. So we worked just with a lot of armor. We built armor vehicles for the military," Stewart told WYFF News 4's, Mike McCormick.
“We come from over 25 years of saving American lives.”
Stewart's company went on to focus on armor people can wear. The company's customer base was mostly made up of law enforcement officers.
According to Stewart, Premier Body Armor is the only company to offer a curved steel plate for protection against the majority of high-powered rifles. It's made at the company's factory in Kings Mountain.
Law enforcement officers eventually started asking for protection that they can carry in their backpacks while they're off-duty or working undercover, so Stewart started selling backpack panels built in his factory in Miami.
“We really didn’t invent the backpack panel. I think we’ve taken it to another level," Stewart said.
The panel is made of Kevlar, the same material that's in a bulletproof vest. It's waterproof and weighs about 1 pound.
“Then (the officers) wanted to know if they could buy it for their kids’ backpacks, even small, really small backpacks," Stewart said.
Stewart started offering panels in all sizes. They can slip right into any backpack.
The recent school shootings ended up expanding Stewart's customer base.
“What’s most terrible is the incident is happening, but once the incident happens people say, 'Oh my gosh. I’ve got to do something about it,'" Stewart said.
“Since this last terrible incident in Florida, there’s been a lot more activity on the website.”
The panels are about $150 each and they come with a five-year warranty.
“We have been in the life-saving business for a very long time and we continue that," Stewart said. "We love it. We come every day to work knowing that most of everything we sell is going to save somebody’s life."