A few weeks ago I was invited to tour the London Bridge Trading (LBT) headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia. As a contributor at MOTUS, I jumped at the chance because of LBT’s service-centric reputation and long-standing history of innovative products built to last.
I’m a self-confessed gear junkie and I proudly admit it. However, that being said, I always made sure the gear I owned had a purpose and was used accordingly. During my years in the U.S. Navy and my most recent service in the U.S. Army, whether I was back in Garrison or deployed overseas, I always came across LBT gear. I was always amazed at how well thought-out it was and the quality. During my deployment to Afghanistan a few years ago, I ran into a couple of NSW guys and as usual, they were more than willing to talk gear for a while and show me what they had. You guess it – the LBT tags were plentiful.
It was a rainy Virginia morning when I set out to LBT, with coffee in hand, and a full tank of gas. As I was driving to their headquarters, all I could think about was how cool it was that here I am, a regular guy, on his way to check out a place I that I had always dreamed about how it looked inside.
When I arrived at LBT and walked into the lobby, I was like a little kid giddy with excitement. To the right of the lobby is their in-house retail store. It was full of more LBT products than you could ever possibly imagine! Next to that were four mannequins outfitted in the brand-new LBX Assaulter Uniforms. While I wanted to break them down and go through all the pieces of clothing, I figured I should probably sign in and let Alex Millner know I was there. Alex is the head of Marketing and Product Development and I first met him at the ADS, Inc. Warrior Expo East. It was there that he extended the open invite for MOTUS to come visit LBT and look around. Alex, just like the rest of the team I met at LBT, are as friendly as they come. They’re incredibly knowledgable about the products they sell and they truly believe in and care about what LBT does as a company.
Just off to the right of the main desk in the lobby are two double doors that lead right into the heart of LBT’s operations. Hanging on the walls are thank you photos from many military and LE units, product flyers, posters on how to measure for the correct plate sizes, and so on. As we walked into the main hub of activity, the first thing I noticed was their layout. It wasn’t one giant, wide-open floor plan where everything can overflow, and it wasn’t a cube farm either.
The layout was in larger sections separated by half walls. Each section had their own responsibility towards the design, production, fitment, and quality control of their products. The employees had family photos hanging by their stations and people were talking and laughing with one another while each station ran seamlessly like a well oiled machine. It’s obvious within the first few minutes of being there, LBT feels like a large family. That’s not something you find too often these days.
LBT not only produces bulk items and orders for government contracts, but they also do specialty items and one-offs on certain occasions. Seeing what they do and watching the product go from scratch to a finished piece is pretty amazing. Alex showed me the pattern wall. Literally everything that LBT makes has a cutout pattern. It was incredible to see the enormity of that section and definitely impossible to capture in a single photo. I had no idea they had created so many different designs and products.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was what I called “the library”. It was a large section in the back of their facility that has one of EVERY product they’ve ever made. This includes every pack, pouch, holster, and odds and ends. You name it and it was there! I even found a few pieces of LBT that I had been issued during my military career. I have to admit that it was pretty damn cool to see all of this gear and that it brought back a lot of really good memories.
We made our way back to the front of the building and grabbed a seat at the front conference table. We talked at length about LBT’s long history. From what started as a homemade shotgun shell pouch to working on larger orders in a garage, LBT has come a very long way. Today, their products are in use by many military units, government agencies, law enforcement entities, and they even offer the training kits for the SOCP (Special Operations Combatives Program). So if you’re looking for body armor, rollout bags, back packs, modular trauma kits, or pouches – LBT probably makes it and has you covered.
We also spoke at length about their LBX Tactical line. It was created specifically to reach out to other end users who didn’t need the exact same gear that NSW and SOCOM units use, but still need high-quality gear at a great price. Alex told me that a lot of time design went into designing and testing the LBX line which now includes plate carriers, pouches, their new Assaulter Uniforms, and a recent collaboration with Chris Costa, High Speed Gear, Inc. and S & S Precision called the MAP System.
The MAP System, or Mission Adaptive Panel System, features a plate carrier with interchangeable panels for different setups and a configurable, full-length rifle bag. Not only is this system extremely affordable, it’s very modular and is covered by the same great LBT warranty.
We spent a little bit of time going over their Assaulter uniforms and I really liked what I saw. We talked about their current configuration and possible future changes that would only make them even better than they now are, if that’s even possible. Having worn many uniforms in my 16 years of service, I’d without a doubt wear these into a combat zone, or at least the pants on a lazy Sunday run to the store.
Overall, I had an incredible visit and really got a new appreciation for how many things LBT does as a company. Alex and the rest of the team were very knowledgeable about the products they make and took great pride in their work. I would have liked to have shown you a little bit more behind the scenes, but some let’s just say they have some cool products in the works. If you’re looking for high-quality and dependable gear, check out London Bridge Trading next time you’re in the market for something.