WATERLOO — An Iowa body armor manufacturer with local ties has been invited to the White House to represent the state in a “Made in America” event hosted by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
RMA Armament, co-owned by former Dysart officer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Blake Waldrop and Burke “Skeet” Miehe of American Pattern & CNC Works in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, is to be featured at the White House event Monday, along with other firms from around the country, the duo said.
“Very few companies have been invited, so I’m humbled and excited,” Waldrop said. He and other manufacturers will set up a display on the south lawn of the White House. He received the invitation from White House staff Thursday morning.
“The president and vice president are going to personally meet with everyone and we’ll get two or three minutes,” Waldrop said. “I don’t know what the hell I’m going to say, but I’m sure I’ll have it figured out by Monday!”
Waldrop, who now lives in the Quad-Cities, patented and produced a new, more resilient type of body armor for use by law officers. In ballistics tests, the material has repeatedly held up under gunfire from high-powered sniper rifles and armor piercing bullets.
RMA now has done business with more than 100 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states, Waldrop said, including the Waterloo Police Department and several Iowa police forces.
RMA owns and operates a 20,000-square-foot factory in a former Iowa National Guard armory in Centerville. It located there in 2016. The armor initially was made from molds produced by American Pattern in Cedar Falls.
“American Pattern is still a supplier of the tooling we use in our presses to build the armor plates,” RMA vice president of operations Adam Huff said. “American Pattern is producing some tooling for some ballistic floor mats RMA is manufacturing for the 2017 Ford Interceptor Police Cruiser. RMA is building the floor mats for a company named Attack Mats, based in Cedar Rapids.” Waldrop said the Interceptors for which the floor mats are being fitted were ordered by the City of New York Police Department.
Waldrop, a Michigan native, came up with the body armor idea as a result of his service in the Marines in 2001-05 and his subsequent experience in law enforcement — a career that took him to Rawlins, Wyo., and eventually to Dysart.
That’s where he met Miehe in 2013 through longtime Dysart businessman and real estate agent Dwayne Luze.
“He sure makes the effort to make things happen,” Miehe said of Waldrop.
Waldrop also became acquainted with the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. last year when he and the president’s son attended then-Gov. Terry Branstad’s annual deer hunt. Waldrop was told the administration has been following RMA’s through national media reports.
RMA was initially featured in a February 2015 Courier article.
Web Button: See a video of a body armor test at wcfcourier.com