Many teenagers dream of opening a business with friends, but few ever actually succeed in doing so. The folks at Optic Armor, however, did exactly that–and have become the leading manufacturer of polycarbonate, scratch-resistant windows.
“Jeff [Percival], Jim [Dunham], and I all grew up together. We are gearheads and hot rodders,” explained Aaron Faulconer, Sales Manager at Optic Armor. “The idea for Percy’s High Performance started in a bedroom and stemmed from there.”
Located in Linn Creek, Missouri, the original performance shop was founded in ’99 and focused mostly on designing header gaskets, engine parts, and carburetor parts. They noticed that many of the performance windows in the market scratched easily and, in the early ‘00s, developed a new process to produce a polycarbonate window that was hard-coated to last longer than other options.
Originally focused on Jeep windows, Percy’s soon expanded into the circle track market, and after that, drag racing. The business went in two different directions—parts and windows—and grew rapidly.
Meanwhile, Jim Howard was working in the railroad construction industry, but heard of an opportunity to purchase the budding business.
“The business sounded very interesting so I decided to take a shot and just go for it,” laughed Howard, who loved cars, but wasn’t a racer himself. In ’07, he acquired the window portion from Percival in partnership with his brother, Tom Howard.
Under the Howards’ direction, products began to be developed for other industries such as heavy equipment and mass transit. They also completely revolutionized the racecar window-fitting game around ’08, as cumbersome trim-to-fit pieces were replaced with a direct-fit, drop-in line that enabled all levels of racers to have a professional-level fitment and installation. What first started with the Fourth-Gen Camaro soon included Mustangs, Corvettes, Challengers, and more, and all incorporated the company’s innovative, baked-on hard coating for unparalleled durability.
Percy’s was rebranded around ’11 as Optic Armor, and although the name changed, its dedicated team didn’t. “People like Aaron [Faulconer] and Jim [Dunham] have been around since the start and have done a great job. We have an experienced team at Optic Armor and that is our biggest asset. They know their stuff and that’s how we have been able to grow,” Howard said with pride of his hard-working staff.
Still in its original hometown Linn Creek location, Optic Armor is now aiming at the future with an expansion of its facility that should nearly double the square footage to almost 25,000, as well as offer new product development capabilities. With everything made in the United States in the heart of drag racing country, Optic Armor proudly cuts, coats, prints, and forms its windows all under one roof.
“We are constantly looking to improve our current products and develop new applications,” explained Faulconer. “We’re also working on a line of tear-off windshield film that’s great for road racing, circle track use, heavy equipment, and mass transit.” A staple of the NASCAR scene for years, this product literally allow customers to stack three or four tear-offs onto a windshield and pull a layer off when a new, clear surface is needed.
Despite its somewhat unconventional start, Optic Armor is now a staple of performance drag racing world. The company is also loved by grassroots racers and professionals alike. From the street to the strip, Optic Armor’s polycarbonate windows can be found in just about any application—including many of the quickest and fastest NMRA and NMCA entries.