Thriving in the DESERT
RISING FROM the barren desert along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, Vic Conrad’s in-plant boasts one of the country’s most desolate locations.
“I look out my window and I see mountains and fields and desert,” says Conrad, manager of Publications/Media Support at ATK Launch Systems Group.
His 53-employee operation in the basement of the ATK administration building is part of a sprawling complex of manufacturing facilities spread over a 20-mile area near Promontory, Utah. The main plant itself covers about 19,000 acres.
“We have our own water supply and electricity and cafeterias,” he adds. “There’s nothing here, just us.”
The reason for this seclusion: As a leading provider of advanced weapon and space systems—with clients like NASA and the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force—ATK conducts some very loud rocket motor tests. Conrad and his staff can hear them clearly from the in-plant (as can people up to 60 miles away). Also, the propellants and other flammable ingredients ATK uses need to be kept away from residential areas.
The ATK complex is not far from the lonely spot where Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad teams met in 1869 and drove in the “golden spike” to complete the first transcontinental railroad. Today, though, space shuttles not railroads are this area’s claim to fame. ATK Launch Systems, the $900 million division supported by the in-plant, provides solid rocket motors for the Space Shuttle fleet and has been selected as the prime contractor for NASA’s new Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV).
“The shuttle work generates tons and tons of paper and design work,” affirms Conrad.
The very nature of the company’s work has made the in-plant crucial to ATK’s success, he says.
“A lot of the work that’s done out here revolves around technical information...company proprietary information [and] classified information,” he says. “We have a lot of government contracts, and they want to protect that information. They don’t want to outsource that.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.