Texas company that builds bomb shelters sees increased sales

In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo, Gary Lynch, the general manager of Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made, stands in the doorway of a bunker under construction in his factory, in Fort Worth, Texas. Lynch says orders of bomb shelters are up 700 percent during the past year. He says a big reason for the spike is that many Americans fear the possibility of war during the Trump administration.  (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo, Gary Lynch, the general manager of Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made, stands in the doorway of a bunker under construction in his factory, in Fort Worth, Texas. Lynch says orders of bomb shelters are up 700 percent during the past year. He says a big reason for the spike is that many Americans fear the possibility of war during the Trump administration. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)

MURCHISON, Texas (AP) — Inside his football field-size warehouse an hour's drive southeast of Dallas, Gary Lynch is busy trying to keep up with orders for his solid-steel bomb shelters. 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports he offers visitors a tour of a 600-square-foot model under construction for a Saudi customer.

Right now, it's just a steel shell, he said, but when the work is done it will be a luxurious underground bunker with a master bedroom, four bunk beds, a composting toilet, a living room with satellite television capability, filtered air and water, and a storage closet with room for months of food.

Lynch explains that orders for his most expensive shelters, which can cost as much as several million dollars, have increased since the November election.

"It definitely has picked up a little as Donald Trump emerged as president," said Lynch, general manager of Rising S Co. on the outskirts of the rural city of Murchison. Lynch said some customers even half-jokingly say they're trying to protect themselves from a "Trumpocalypse" or "Trumpnado."

"There's some people who maybe even voted for Donald Trump and may be worried some of the riots are going to get out of hand and there's going to be social or civil unrest," he said.

"Then you've got people who didn't vote for him and are thinking that now that he's president maybe he's going to start a war. There's definitely been some renewed interest from people since the election."

Doomsday prepping — the act of stockpiling food and other essentials in a reinforced, often-underground shelter — used to be mostly associated with Libertarian-leaning Americans who feared their own government would turn on them.

Sales of Rising S's most luxurious shelters have jumped 700 percent in recent months, he said. Lynch didn't provide specific data on how many units he typically sells, but he said Rising S Co. recorded about $14 million in sales during the past year.

Although Lynch credits Trump's surprising rise to power for the latest sales spike, he said a similar jump in sales occurred eight years ago when President Obama took office.

He has been building shelters for 13 years.

"When a Republican is president, the left wants to buy a bunker," he said. "It's the opposite when a Democrat is president."

America has a long history of building bomb shelters, going back to the days of the Cold War with the Soviet Union shortly after World War II.

In the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of homeowners built underground escape rooms — something that was encouraged by President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who presided over the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that nearly brought the U.S. and Russia to nuclear blows.

Some manufacturers offer closet-size underground bunkers for as little as $5,000.

At Rising S Co., Lynch said he and his roughly 40 employees can't sell anything that cheap. They use the finest, Alabama-made steel and an air purification system with a patent pending on its design — and materials like that come at a cost.

Rising S Co.'s shelters also feature a water purification system that can be designed to pull water from an underground well, a municipal water system or a storage tank.

But Lynch said he can set up customers with an entry-level shelter approximately 4 feet by 6 feet for roughly $10,000.

This Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo shows a bomb shelter under construction at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters in Fort Worth, Texas. This 6-person shelter is being built for a client in Saudi Arabia.  (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
This Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo shows a bomb shelter under construction at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters in Fort Worth, Texas. This 6-person shelter is being built for a client in Saudi Arabia. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
This Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo shows a storm shelter for a business client under construction at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made in Fort Worth, Texas. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
This Monday, Jan. 13, 2017 photo shows a storm shelter for a business client under construction at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made in Fort Worth, Texas. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
A worker constructs a  bomb shelter at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made in Forth Worth, Texas. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)
A worker constructs a bomb shelter at Rising S Company, a small rural factory where bomb shelters are made in Forth Worth, Texas. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via AP)

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