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April 15, 2024 Startups, Technology & Innovation

Atlantic Fabricating ready for growth with new ownership, larger headquarters

HBJ PHOTO | SKYLER FRAZER Atlantic Fabricating Co. President Kara Dunlap stands on her company’s new shop floor in East Granby.
At A Glance: Atlantic Fabricating Co.
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Two years after purchasing South Windsor-based Atlantic Fabricating Co. with her husband in 2022, President Kara Dunlap has moved the manufacturer into a new and larger facility in East Granby that will allow for expansion.

Atlantic Fabricating is a metal-working fabrication and machining business that specializes in building parts and equipment used in the aerospace, alternative and nuclear energy, medical, power generation, maritime and oil and gas generation industries.

The company’s customers include East Hartford-based fuel cell manufacturer HyAxiom and its parent company Doosan, Bloomfield-based Kaman Corp., and carmakers Chrysler and General Motors.

Dunlap and her husband, Joseph Dunlap, in October paid $1.3 million for the company’s new 16,772-square-foot headquarters building at 6 Kripes Road, in East Granby, and have been gradually moving equipment into the property. Atlantic Fabricating now has 15 employees and room to add more with its new, larger headquarters across the river.

“We do have room for expansion and growth at this site, so that’s always a good thing,” Dunlap said. “We’re always looking to expand our capabilities, add new machines and upgrade our products.”

The East Granby building previously hosted Magnatech, an orbital welding equipment manufacturer dating back to 1946. Magnatech was purchased in 2023 by Specialized Fabrication Equipment Group, a company founded in 2019 with the merger of three separate manufacturers.

Magnatech has since moved to a smaller space in South Windsor.

‘Larger, more complex projects’

The Dunlaps purchased Atlantic Fabricating in 2022 from Susan and William Johnson, who were looking to sell and retire. Atlantic Fabricating was founded in 1986, and had been headquartered in South Windsor until the move earlier this year.

Dunlap said she and her husband knew Atlantic Fabricating’s previous owners for more than three decades, and had discussed a potential sale several years before it happened.

“With their interest in retirement and the impact of COVID-19 motivating them further, the opportunity resurfaced,” Dunlap said. “They were keen to retire, which made the deal more viable.”

She didn’t disclose terms of the sale.

Dunlap has prior experience in sales, finance and customer service; her husband comes from an engineering background. While manufacturing is a new endeavor, Dunlap said the duo believes their combined experience can help grow the company.

Their children, Eddie Dunlap and Riley Mackey, also work at Atlantic Fabricating.

Following the purchase of the company, the Dunlaps invested in software upgrades and newer equipment to expand their client base and allow for larger, more complex projects. They also spruced up their new East Granby facility, with new floors, paint and other much-needed maintenance.

Atlantic Fabricating was previously located at 71 Edwin Road, in South Windsor, but the lease for that property was up at the end of last year. Rather than renew, the Dunlaps began searching for a new home with the goal of owning the real estate.

Atlantic Fabricating was also beginning to outgrow its former space due to an increase in orders and overall business, Dunlap said.

Atlantic Fabricating builds and assembles complete electromechanical systems, such as circuit boards, as well as X-ray machines and radiation detection equipment for use in hospitals, construction sites, and by nuclear energy original equipment manufacturers.

The company also offers custom fabrication services and produces spare parts for power-generation equipment.

Recent growth has come from radiation equipment and circuit board sales, as well as custom welding services and government-related contracts, Dunlap said, adding that the company is always in the market to hire welders and fabricators.

“Under new ownership, we’ve expanded our client base to include larger projects like complex modifications of shipping containers and advanced machining and assembly tasks for X-ray and radiation detection equipment,” she said.

Long-term play

Including outdoor space, Atlantic Fabricating currently uses about 20,000 square feet for operations at its new East Granby location. It has also received town approval to add 20,000 square feet to the property.

While no expansion plans have been formalized yet, the company could eventually add to the building or outside storage space.

Atlantic Fabricating’s South Windsor facility was about 11,000 square feet and spread across three different shop floors, said Mackey, who is Atlantic Fabricating’s business development manager.

“It comes down to the flow — having the assembly and clean area, the fabrication area, and the welding area not just crammed into one spot. It really allows us to do that quality work,” Mackey, 25, said of the new facility.

Dunlap said the goal is to establish Atlantic Fabricating as “the premier source for fabrication and electromechanical assembly along the 91 corridor.”

“Our intention is to maintain ownership for the foreseeable future and solidify our position in the market,” Dunlap said. “We’re hoping that Riley and Eddie will carry on the company legacy for the long-term.”

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