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Employee Spotlight: Larry Head


man with arm around wife on patio swingSix kids. 16 years in Ethiopia. One UAV development project. 33 years with Federal Ammunition. Larry Head, Product Development Director for Handgun Ammunition, has quite a bit under his belt.

Larry’s high school career evaluation indicated he’d be a good fit for forestry or engineering. The high school counselor told Larry forestry jobs were hard to come by, but indicated there was a shortage of engineers and the field would be a good path to securing a long-term career. He chose engineering and had one sole goal: be a good engineer.

Larry started his career as an intern at Honeywell in the Underseas System Division developing the MK 50 Torpedo. After turning that internship into a permanent Development Engineering position working on Smart Tank ammunition, Honeywell Defense Systems spun off and became ATK, leading Larry to a career at Federal developing small caliber ammunition.

Now, Larry has spent roughly 15 years in managing product development, even though he never had plans to manage.

“I was given that opportunity and discovered it is a role I really enjoy.”

Enjoy. He enjoys it so much that he listed the new ammunition products he helped introduce over the last 20 years as his claim to fame.

“I have been fortunate to be involved in developing a large percentage of new ammunition products over the years.”

So when a guy debates spending time outdoors as a forester versus developing product, what makes his choice the right fit? Larry’s perseverance is a strong indicator.

“In development, you are mostly solving problems. You start with failures in your solutions before you see success. If you don’t have perseverance to learn from the failures, you will rarely drive a design to a great ending,” he explained.

As a lighter side example, Larry shared a story of learning to play chess from a coworker years ago. The coworker was a talented chess player, so when the two of them played speed chess on lunch, Larry lost every game for over a year before he finally started winning a few. His perseverance led him to eventually start winning as many games as his coworker.

Aside from leading his teams to great success through his 33 years of employment at Federal, Larry has had many other great accomplishments in his career and life. He shared the top achievements in his career and personal life:

“It was very rewarding to be a part of the team that developed the HST Law Enforcement and Personal Defense ammunition, particularly when I hear stories where people’s lives have been saved because of that product.”

Getting a bit more personal in his accomplishments, Larry is proud to say he and his wife successfully raised six great kids.

“I’m blessed. Despite not knowing what we were doing all the time and making plenty of mistakes, our kids are wonderful, solid individuals,” he said.

And there you have it. Even in his personal life, Larry has chosen to persevere, make the best of it, learn from his mistakes, take an occasional loss and ultimately come out better and stronger.



Last read:
I like crime mystery novels, the last one was “Dead Certain” by Mariah Stewart.

Who would you like to swap places with for a day?
It’s hard to think of anyone because I really like my life and what I do. Maybe my dad, he’s in heaven.

Advice to a younger you?
Time is short, and opportunities will pass you by unless you jump on them, particularly time with individuals. Many times you don’t get a second chance.

What would a day off, by yourself, with no obligations include?
Tough question. I have a number of things I really like to do. If it is just one day at home, it would work on a woodworking project, or remodeling something in the house. At the end of the day, I’d read a good book. If I could transport for a day, I would love to be on a remote mountain hunting elk, or on a lake in the BWCA fishing and enjoying camp.

What a person needs to be happy?
1) Be right with God. 2) Have good relationships with family and people close to you. This requires that you give people the benefit of doubt and assume they don’t intend or mean ill toward you with their words or actions until it is very clear that isn’t the case. 3) Be content with what you have, even as you strive for better.

Places you’ve lived?
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Blue Island IL, and multiple suburbs in MN: Shoreview, Arden Hills, Brooklyn Center, East Bethel and now Cambridge.

Most people don’t know:
I was born in Ethiopia and lived there until I was almost 16.