Bowmar was established in 1951 by Ed White, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to produce precision gearing and gear assemblies. In 1971, Bowmar developed the world’s first hand held calculator, the Bowmar Brain. Later, a switch patent for calculator keyboards was developed, and this technology was applied to high reliability applications. In 1986, corporate offices moved to Phoenix and Bowmar acquired White Technologies, a producer of custom memory devices. Twelve years later, Bowmar Corporation merged with Electronic Designs, Inc. changing the corporate name to White Electronic Designs. The Fort Wayne facility was named the Electromechanical Products Division. The Fort Wayne facility was acquired by Main Street Venture Funds in 2010. Main Street Venture Funds is a Fort Wayne based venture group whose mission is to retain and regain ownership of area businesses. The Fort Wayne facility was renamed Bowmar LLC and continues to operate under that name today. Our current focus is the manufacture of aerospace and defense products. We produce mechanical, electronic and electromechanical devices.
Nearly 70% of Bowmar’s customers are defense contractors. Pursuant to a law passed in 2010, the company began to see flow downs for DFARS 252.204.7012 regulations which contain NIST 800-171 controls for handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).
NIST 800-171 is comprised of 109 controls in 14 categories ranging from information access controls through systems and information integrity. With the release of NIST 800-171, Bowmar decided to take proactive steps toward compliance and security. The company had already performed an initial gap analysis but had stalled in some areas. They were made aware of a grant being offered by the Department of Defense (DoD) through Purdue’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. The grant allowed selected companies access to resources to assist Bowmar with remediation towards becoming NIST 800-171 compliant.
Purdue made Bowmar aware of a grant in which some Indiana companies may be eligible to utilize in their effort to become compliant with the regulation. After initial discussions and meeting Purdue MEP representatives, the company applied for the DoD grant. Once the application was approved, Purdue coordinated with a security/cybersecurity consulting company. Throughout the process MEP headed up the coordination between all parties making sure milestones were attained.
The consultant worked onsite to evaluate Bowmar’s status. They reviewed Bowmar’s current procedures and applications and made recommendations to help implement best practices and changes to work towards compliance. The recommendations included changes in policies and procedures in some areas as well as upgrading and hardening Bowmar’s hardware infrastructure.
The recommended changes allowed Bowmar to meet the NIST 800-171 requirements for compliance as well as a plan for complete implementation of all regulations. This gave the company a comparative advantage over their competitors in gaining and retaining customer contracts that require this regulation. The result of meeting the DoD cybersecurity requirements, with Purdue MEP’s help, allowed Bowmar to continue to be a valued supplier to the defense industry, which is critical to Bowmar’s long term success as it represents approximately 70% of Bowmar’s customer base.
“Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership was instrumental in the process of bringing together the needed factors to make this endeavor successful. The factors necessary for success include: program awareness, relevant business partners and the drive to develop and execute the plan.” - Dave Ladig, IT Manager