ATAS International, Inc. is 50, and the anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2013. A third-generation, family-owned business that went from a siding and trim company in an immigrant’s basement to an industry leading metal manufacturer with locations throughout the United States. Well that is something to celebrate.
ATAS was founded in1963 by Jacobus "Jack" P. Bus in his home’s basement in Rochester, N.Y. His wife, Nel, and their eight children—Marian, Dick, Gerard, Josie, Jim, Angela, Alex and Lisa—were all part of the manufacturing and installation team. “Everyone was excepted to work,” Nel explained. “We were a family, and we all had jobs to do.”
The journey to become business owners started when Jack and Nel moved to Canada from the Netherlands in the 1950s. The hardworking and quick-witted duo saw a business opportunity while Jack was installing siding and trim, often crossing the border to do so in Rochester. He noticed contractors hated bending their own products, so he had the idea to do it for them. This business was well received, and the company has seen tremendous growth over the years.
Jack first moved his
company and its original equipment from the basement into a 12,000-square-foot facility in Rochester, and when they needed more space—and a better location to allow for a larger distribution radius—the company moved to Allentown, Pa. With sons Dick and Jim at his side in management roles, the Bus family saw opportunities in various markets by creating ingenious products. This, combined with their focus on quality, customer service and family, has made ATAS an industry leader.
Today, ATAS has two locations in Allentown, as well as facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and Maryville, Tenn. Brightsmith Coil Coaters, Morrisville, Pa., is a sister company of ATAS that was acquired in 2008. Product categories include metal roofing, wall and ceiling panels for commercial and residential buildings, as well as accessories, trim and moulding. ATAS operations have been certified to the ISO 9001:2008 with design International Quality System Standard in all locations. This certification assists ATAS with maintaining industry leadership; utilizing a customer focus and quality improvements that are consistent with continued growth, enhanced customer service and employee satisfaction; and harnessing growth responsibility.
Sustainability also has become integral to what ATAS does. It produces less waste and reutilizes materials, such as skids, cardboard, and coil ID rings, when possible. These efforts have reduced the creation of new skids and packaging by 50 percent, and hazardous waste has been reduced by 64 percent. It is proud of the accomplishment that in 2008 the company scrapped 1 million pounds of waste and only 300,000 pounds currently. Motion sensors and improved lighting in the original Allentown plant and new production facility have made the buildings more energy efficient. ATAS’ also installed its own product InSpire, a supplementary solar air heating system, at its newest Allentown manufacturing location.
“InSpire is a transpired solar collector wall system that we are very proud of at ATAS,” Jim said. “This simple technology takes solar-heat air generated by the sun, pulls it through perforations in metal wall panels and circulates it through a building. It has the capability to heat a building in cooler months, keep a building cool in warmer months and destratify indoor air. I think that is pretty cool.”
ATAS also manufactures ATA-Solar, a building integrated photovoltaic roof system that transforms solar energy into electricity. Where possible, ATAS roofing products are coated with a cool pigment paint that reflects infrared radiation. This allows the color to appear the same but keeps the material cooler, reducing the urban heat island effect, lowering the building’s interior temperature and slashing cooling season utility bills. ATAS products may contribute to LEED credits and/or be ENERGY STAR qualified.
As new products and profiles are created every year, the Bus family remains as the central element. Dick serves as president, and Jim is vice president of operations. Dick's wife, Peg, is human resources manager, and their three children all have a role in the company. Mark and Eric first started with ATAS when they were 14 years old. Like their father, they were handed a broom to sweep the shop floors and taught how to load trucks. Eric worked his way around the shop from shipping and receiving to a machine helper, building crates, working second shift and setting up a few machines for the day shift. In 2001, Eric moved to the Mesa facility and now serves as the plant manager. Eric plans to move back to Allentown in the next few years to begin the transition
of running the company with his father and uncle. He wants to focus his efforts in the production area. Mark stayed in Allentown and has worked within sales and customer service. Mark sees his future within sales and accounting. Dick’s daughter, Tina Montone, is a property manager for the company. Jim’s children, Michelle, Tiffany, Katie and Tony, have all spent some time working in the family business. While Michelle and Katie have pursued careers outside the family business in graphic design and biology research/grad school, respectively, Tiffany and Tony intend to join the family business. Tony spent two summers in production and is currently pursuing an engineering degree and sees a future in contributing to technical aspects of the products and procedures. Tiffany Hutcheson is a customer service representative at Brightsmith Coil Coaters and is working on her master’s degree in management.
"A great source of pride is that ATAS has remained a family business for 50 years and that the third generations is now involved in the company," Dick said. "It isn't always easy to work with family, but we have proven that great things can be achieved when you respect one’s contributions and talents." Nel also can still be seen in her office at ATAS. She likes to come in from time to time to review marketing materials and check in on advertising, which was her focus when she worked full time. Jack passed away in 2008. "I miss my dad every day, but his legacy can still be felt in this building and among the ATAS employees," Jim said.
While ATAS honors its past, it strives for great accomplishments in the future. In Arizona, ATAS is adding the Building Envelope Design Center. This educational facility will be filled with mock installations and other tools to help educate contractors, architects and others in the construction community about metal design and installation. The company also is working with an overseas laminating company for a future partnership. Adding laminates to metal panels will open new design possibilities for the company.
"As we look to the future, we cannot help but to stop and thank our staff and customers for being part of the ATAS team for 50 years," Dick said. "I started working with my dad when I was 9 years old, and this industry has been my life. Jim and I are honored to call so many customers friends and to have been part of some outstanding projects.”
ATAS first marked its anniversary with staff members at a winter party in January. Some employees, such as Vice President of Sales Jim Bush, Dutch Seam Line Operator Mike Rex and Maintenance Manager Larry Darlymple have been with ATAS since the doors opened in Allentown in 1983. For the Bus family, it wouldn't have been right to kick off the anniversary year without them. In May, Customer Appreciation Day brought on more celebrations to honor customers who are central to the ATAS success. ATAS will continue to celebrate the mile stone all year.
“2013 has been a fun year of reminiscing and honoring what the ATAS family has done,” Eric said. “For me, my siblings and cousins, it also has been a great opportunity to focus on the future. I look forward to working with all of them to take the right steps to bring ATAS to the next level, under the guidance of Dick and Jim.”
Dick and Jim Bus- Brothers and current owners of ATAS International, Inc.
Nel and Jack Bus- Founders of ATAS International, Inc.
Manufacturing Facilities of ATAS
Corporate Office - Snowdrift Rd. Allentown, PA
Mesa, AZ Ficility
Maryville, TN Facility
Grant Way Facility - Allentown, PA
BRIGHTSMITH Coil Coaters, Morrisville, PA (Sister Company)