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PORT CLINTON — ARES, Inc., a company started in the home garage of a renowned firearms engineer, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of creating innovative weaponry.
Headquartered at Lake Erie Business Park along Ohio 2 just west of Port Clinton, ARES, Inc., has been designing, testing and manufacturing cutting-edge weapon systems here since its founding in 1971.
Eugene Stoner, the original designer of what would develop into one of the most emblematic firearms ever created, the M16 rifle, started the company in his garage on Catawba Island along with ARES co-founder Robert Bihun.
The M16, as well as other closely related models such as the M4 and civilian AR-15, are among the most recognizable and widely used rifle design concepts in the world today.
Stoner and Bihun launched the company following the closure of another company, TRW Ordnance Development Center, in 1970.
As ARES quickly outgrew Stoner’s garage, they moved the company into the same buildings previously used by TRW and hired many of their former employees.
Eventually, Stoner and Bihun sold the company to Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation in 1987. Within three years, Chamberlain announced plans to close ARES, but would stay open with a skeleton crew to finish contracts.
In 1993, management at ARES ultimately bought the company back from Chamberlain Manufacturing and they still own the Port Clinton company today.
“It’s incredible that a small company like ARES in northwest Ohio has been able to remain such an important player in the military defense market for all these years,” said Ann Yamrick, vice president of ARES.
While some may have not heard the name ARES, Inc., before, if they have lived in the area for any significant amount of time, they would likely have heard the company working.
As part of its engineering process, ARES tests its weapon system designs at its strategically located facility that allows it to fire what are often massive rounds into specially designated areas of Lake Erie.
One of the company’s “proudest and greatest achievements” is having designed the autoloader and recoil mechanism for the U.S. Army Stryker 105mm Mobile Gun System, which was deployed overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Yamrick.
The incredibly loud “bang” reaches ears even miles away when the Stryker 105mm MGS is fired.
ARES is also very proud to have produced hundreds of the recoil mechanisms for the U.S. military and still remains the sole source provider for its refurbishment and upgrade services, Yamrick said.
Yamrick added telescoped ammunition, electromagnetic guns and experimental barrel manufacturing as other areas of weapons technology where ARES has been innovating over the years.
With around 50 working at its Port Clinton facility, the weapon systems manufacturer is also a major employer for the area.
But as of recently, like so many other employers nationwide, ARES has been feeling the impact of the labor shortage and is looking to hire skilled-trades machinists, technicians and a business development manager.
“We offer good benefits, really interesting work and a great place to have a career,” Yamrick said.
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