We started building our first finishing shop in January 1999. It was a small 24x24 shop built just outside Cabot, Arkansas. The shop served us well for a couple of years, but the demand soon outgrew our shop size.
Trouble was business picked up faster than we thought. We could only hold two shelters at one time. We've now expanded three times. Currently, we are located in Austin, Arkansas. On the other side of Cabot.
An all-steel, fully underground tornado shelter. A staircase with antislip tape and handrail rather than a ladder. We used a ten gauge floor with 12 gauge sidewalls and roof, then added 1/4" "C" channel under it on the sides, back, and top. We added bench seating on both sides and across the rear. Double welded in critical seams and overlapped roof. We coated the outside with a Hi-mil two-part marine epoxy and used the same final coat of paint on the inside they use on the outside commercial jet aircraft.
Handcrafted quality, Built one at a time. We don't hire extra help during the rush season. That can compromise the product. But, the end result will be worth the wait. We use almost twice as much 1/4" "C" channel for structure support that most others and welded inside and out at critical seams.
They are first power washed at 4200psi to remove the residue from the chemical leak test procedure. They are then degreased to get down to the bare metal. Edges are ground as needed and checked for any burs or blemishes in the metal.
They are first primed with an industrial metal primer. The topcoat is almost more of a chemical than a paint. It's what's used to paint the outside of commercial jet aircraft. We do a minimum of three coats. The exterior is coated with a hi-mil marine epoxy. It's used on barges and off-shore drilling rigs and even approved by the U.S. Corp of Engineers for dam gates.
I didn't start out to get into the storm shelter business. I just wanted something better for my family then a converted septic tank. That's all there was at the time. I wanted something that wouldn't be a massive hump in the yard, something a tornado could slam something into. I met with a group of welders, tossed some ideas, and developed the basic design.
We sealed it with roofing tar and painted the inside silver.
After installing it, friends and neighbors raved about it. So I built a few for them. I figured saving lives was a gratifying thing to get into, and it also put some change in my pocket. Now in the small town of Cabot, where it all started, we have sold and installed over 100 with a Cabot, Arkansas address. I've gained a lot of friends in the process as well. Saving lives is what it's all about.