Texas-based company owner Ron Howard says he is making “millions of dollars in a week” as demand for bomb shelters spikes in many countries
Ron Hubbard has been in business for more than a decade. But never before has he made so much money as he is doing right now.
Hubbard, 59, is the owner of Atlas Survival Shelters, one of the largest bunker construction companies in the United States. And, in his own words, “They’re catching on and I’m selling the heck out of them.”
Fears over the conflict in Ukraine spiralling into a nuclear armageddon are pushing more and more people in the US and Poland, besides the besieged country, to buy Hubbard’s custom-made bunkers, Deutsche Welle reported recently.
Russia has rattled the nuclear sabre intermittently since President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine for what he described as a “special military operation”.
Many experts have described the situation in Europe to be as fragile and dangerous as it was during the height of Nazi Germany’s march during World War II.
Texas hold ’em
Hubbard has a factory in Texas where he makes sophisticated bunkers with military-grade nuclear, biological, and chemical air filtration systems, a mudroom and decontamination shower, air and gas-tight waterproof doors, and power sources.
In 2021, he set up another factory in Poland. Besides bunkers, his factories also produce dozens of models of tornado and fire shelters. But the bomb shelter is his best-selling product right now.
There are so many orders now that he is “making millions of dollars weekly”, he says.
“Everybody buys bunkers, and nobody calls it crazy. Our business is doing well in Ukraine and Poland right now. I have several Ukrainian clients, wealthy people, who want a bunker as soon as possible, preferably right now!” the intrepid entrepreneur adds.
According to the manufacturer, demand for his products has been growing in both Eastern Europe and the US. Hubbard said he believes that his countrymen are also apprehensive of the Ukraine war touching their shores.
Hubbard’s products cost anything between $40,000 and $1 million. A standard bunker is three metres high and 12 metres long and costs about $200,000. It has all the bare essentials: a toilet, a sink, under-floor storage, food and water tanks. The air goes through a charcoal filter.
“People want a place that is underground, where they can hide their family, where they’re comfortable and safe. It’s a new trend in America,” Hubbard points out. “I am selling bunkers for millions of dollars every week. You might ask, what about ordinary people? Yes, it’s unfortunate, but the rich live better than the rest of us.”
The entrepreneur says that the whole world has been fearful of the nuclear threat lately. “When you turn on the news, you see North Korea talking about nuclear weapons. Russia is talking about nuclear weapons. China is talking about nuclear weapons,” the businessman says. “I’ve never seen people talk about it so much, and it’s scary.”
Poland, which shares a 232-km-long border, has also seen a growing demand for bunkers: more and more people have been calling up renovation and construction companies and asking about how to renovate, improve or turn their house basements into bunkers.
Such a project can cost up to $2500 to $7500 (from $35,000 to $100,000). The price of a private bomb shelter can be as high as $117000.
Almost immediately after the start of the “military operation” in Ukraine, Putin instructed the Defence Ministry to put the Russian army’s deterrence forces, including nuclear weapons, on high alert.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in April that there was a risk of a nuclear strike, though he tempered it down by adding that it was against “Moscow’s principled position” to prevent the use of such weapons. The next day, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin responded to the Russian minister, condemning such rhetoric as “dangerous and unhelpful” and added that Washington “will not get involved”.
However, the possibility of nuclear war has been discussed even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In March 2021, Admiral Charles Richard, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote an article for the official publication of the U.S. Naval Institute about “a real prospect of a regional crisis with Russia or China potentially escalating into a conflict involving the use of nuclear weapons”.
But Hubbard will believe that what’s bad news for the world is just good business for him.