[author: Clint Long]
In April 2014, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman lauded Atlas Devices, a Boston-based company that manufactures all of its innovative defense and rescue products in the United States, at multiple events in Massachusetts. Speaking at a ceremony celebrating the expansion of Atlas Devices' factory and at a New England Council Luncheon, Ambassador Froman recognized the success that Atlas Devices has achieved through exports. In doing so, Ambassador Froman illustrated how the ingenuity of U.S. manufacturers can lead to great benefits in international trade, which can be facilitated by market access opportunities provided by free trade agreements.
Atlas Devices was formed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) alumni who, after losing a Soldier Design Competition at MIT in 2005, wanted to develop and manufacture the product they had entered into the competition: the Atlas Power Ascender. The Atlas Power Ascender is a powered device that allows soldiers, first responders, and other users to quickly climb a rope attached to a building, helicopter, or other anchor. It is a product that, as Atlas Devices says, "until recently only existed in fiction." Atlas Devices' product line also includes grappling hooks, ladders, and other products for military and rescue operations. The company currently has twelve employees.
Although Atlas Devices sells products to all four branches of the U.S. military and other U.S. end-users, the company's success in exporting is receiving attention. At the New England Council Luncheon, Ambassador Froman explained that 50 percent of Atlas Devices' sales come from exports. According to a U.S. Trade Representative press release, exports have contributed to a doubling of the company's customer base each year from 2011 to 2013 and a doubling of its workforce since 2005. Atlas Devices anticipates further growth in its customer base and workforce due to increasing exports in the future.
In his remarks at the New England Council Luncheon, Ambassador Froman said that the goal of the U.S. trade agenda is to "unlock the power of exports" for companies like Atlas Devices through the negotiation of free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. He pointed to Atlas Devices as an example of the benefits that other American manufacturers and businesses can reap from trade: "I look at a company like Atlas Devices, and we see the promise the future holds. Through hard work, dedication, and creativity, an idea was made a reality. New technology was created. And now, that company has an opportunity to expand, see growth, and create jobs by exporting that new technology all over the world."