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Atlas secures its place in firearms, ammunitions industry

When Remington left Elizabethtown, Atlas Development Group was formed

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Atlas Development Group in Elizabethtown, formed in 2015, serves the firearms and ammunition industry.

When Remington moved its research and development facility from Elizabethtown to Huntsville, Ala., in 2014, a group of engineers who did not want to relocate decided to launch their own company to manufacture ammunition, provide consulting services for the firearms and ammunition industry, and operate a research and development lab.

In January 2015, Atlas Development Group was born. The company makes precision rifle cartridge cases, reactive targets and other firearm accessories, focusing on creating high-quality ammunition that is consistently and accurately manufactured. With 12 full-time employees and four co-op/temporary workers, Atlas also provides design and engineering services and acts as a test lab and industry expert.

Atlas Development Group
Atlas Development Group makes precision rifle cartridge cases, reactive targets and other firearm accessories.

In 2018, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center took notice of the company, awarding it a Kentucky Pacesetter Award. Pacesetter Awards are given to businesses that have changed Kentucky’s economic landscape by introducing innovative products, increasing sales or production, boosting employment and serving their communities.

Brent Jarboe, CEO, shared more about Atlas Development Group for this month’s Small Business Snapshot.

What products/services do you provide?

We are a team of small-arms industry professionals with over a century of collective experience who service the firearms and ammunition industry in three primary ways: 1) as a manufacturer of precision rifle cartridge cases; 2) as an engineering consulting firm that provides design and metallurgical engineering services to a broad client base; and 3) as a test lab and industry expert providing services such as, but not limited to, failure analysis, design of investigative experiments, design vetting, and product durability testing.

Atlas Development Group
219 Enterprise Drive

How have things changed in your field since you first opened? 

The demand for our cartridge cases has increased as the sport has gained in popularity over the last few years. There’s been a change in the traditional sales model of manufacturer-wholesaler-dealer-consumer to more direct sales through brick-and-mortar dealer networks and direct-to-customer online sales. 

When you meet someone new, how do you describe your job? 

I simply say that I work with the most talented people in the firearms and ammunition industry, providing the best engineering and consulting services available as well as manufacturing the best cartridge brass available for the precision rifle shooter.    

What has been your biggest challenge as a company and how did you overcome it (prior to COVID-19)? 

The biggest challenge overall is most likely common among most startups: navigating the business aspect of the company. Many people have great ideas and/or great talents that lend them to having a product or service that is marketable but few understand that much of the work done when starting a business is not necessarily part of the idea/talent that made you want to start the business in the first place. One must wear many hats to keep it all going forward. It requires an intense amount of focus and dedication. Fortunately, the team at ADG is all likeminded and invested in our success. We’ve all had to learn as we go, and each day I feel we’re getting better at not only our services but at being a better business. 

In what ways has COVID-19 affected your business? How has your company responded to these challenges? 

As a designated essential defense contractor, we’ve been operating during the pandemic but not without hurdles to overcome. Like all businesses, we’ve had to provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to our employees as well as change how we interact with each other. We follow all current CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations such as social distancing, temperature checks, hand sanitation, etc. 

We’re a small close-knit group, so while the changes are difficult, they are not as great as larger companies but are equally important to ensure everyone’s health and well-being. We are thankful that we’ve been more fortunate than many small businesses by being able remain operational, so it’s our obligation to maintain a healthy and safe work environment in order to continue to do so.

How is your company involved in the community? 

We are involved in a few activities that help prepare the next generation of professionals for the job market. We assist in mock interviews at one of our local high schools to help teach them how to conduct themselves when seeking employment. We also provide internships for high school seniors interested in pursuing engineering in college. 

We provide assistance to our local law enforcement whenever they have questions regarding their relevant equipment or need additional technical support, and we are on the board of the Elizabethtown Police Foundation, whose goal is to provide support for law enforcement officers, for needs both on and off the job. ADG also sponsors numerous local youth sport teams. 

Lastly, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a call was put out to local industry to provide intubation boxes to protect caregivers from patient-expelled aerosols. ADG designed and fabricated a number of these boxes for two local hospitals. We then provided our technical data package to the American Hospital Association to distribute as an “open source” option so that anyone could use our design to fabricate additional boxes for their communities.        

What’s your favorite most recent project? 

Unfortunately, most of our projects are unable to be publicly disclosed due confidentiality agreements. That being said, the intubation box project was a great example of how a company can utilize their talents flexibly and respond rapidly to a community need. I’m proud ADG was able to do that.  

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your company? 

We have many partners, both literally and figuratively, who believe in our mission both as people and as a business. Those partnerships become personal relationships too, and we want to always make sure they are thanked for their support. The Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation (Rick Games), the Small Business Development Center (Patricia Krausman), WesBanco (Marilyn Ford, David Hunt, James Watson), Cecilian Bank (Allison Baumgardner), the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Elizabethtown city government (particularly former Mayor Edna Berger), and many, many more all deserve a heartfelt thank you from all of us at ADG.

Lorie Hailey is special publications editor for The Lane Report. Send recommendations for Small Business Snapshot to [email protected]