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Tyler, Texas-Based Atlas Backyard Sheds Celebrates 35 Years in Business

For 35 years now, three generations of the Downs family of Atlas Backyard Sheds in Tyler, Texas, have been transforming backyard spaces into living spaces with the construction of sheds, garages, decks, fences, patio covers, hot tubs, pools, and other small, custom-built-buildings, according to the company.

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To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Atlas says it will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Smith County in building a barn-style playhouse for its fundraising event called Playhouses on the Plaza.

Atlas’s playhouse will be displayed along with seven other themed playhouses on the downtown Tyler plaza during the last week of the Azalea Trail in early April. The playhouse will then be auctioned off.

It’s not the first time the business has donated their skills to Habitat for Humanity. In 2014, they helped raise the walls on the nonprofit group’s 101st home built in Tyler.

“We are always looking for ways to contribute to the community in Tyler and the surrounding area, so partnering with Habitat for Humanity made perfect sense,” says Atlas CEO, William F. Downs Jr. “When my father, Bill Downs, started Atlas in 1981, customer service was a top priority, and over the years as we have grown, we have kept customer satisfaction first, and I contribute that to our success.”

In the 1980s, Tyler’s population was around 70,000. It is currently at 107,000, a 65 percent growth rate, says Atlas. In 2017, at a time when big box stores are offering all kinds of self-assembly, made-in-China plastic storage sheds, Atlas says it still builds them to last with wood, by hand, using quality framing and materials.

The backyard-focused company was appropriately launched in a backyard itself, the company says. It was behind the house in Tyler where Downs Sr. and his wife, Shirley, with the help of their son, Downs Jr., began commercially building sheds.

At that time, each shed was primarily made of metal—built 100 percent by hand, all nails and no screws, which was a time-intensive process. The company was called Atlas Portable Buildings then, and as consumer demands and tastes have changed, the company has continued to evolve to provide all the elements that make suburban life.

Today, Atlas Backyard Sheds says it is the backyard professional, providing shade, cool dips in a pool, relaxing hot tubs and swim spas, along with any size custom building.

Founder, Downs, Sr., passed away in 2015 at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy with his company. Downs, Jr. is the CEO and president of Atlas, working alongside his sons, Willie and Robert, who are handling various aspects of the company. They employ a staff of 32.

Since the 1981 founding of the company in Tyler, Atlas says it has since expanded to eight different locations throughout East Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, including a dedicated spa showroom in Tyler and a ninth spa showroom set to open soon in Plano.

In fact, the company has grown so large that in 2016 it created a separate division for luxury hot tubs called Atlas Spas and Swim Spas, the company says. Atlas is an authorized dealer of Master Spas hot tubs and swim spas, including the official Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas.


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