From sprockets to rockets: Our diverse manufacturing history

It may surprise you to learn that our company originally manufactured trendy dinette sets and household furniture in a large factory on Semple Avenue in St. Louis, beginning in 1945 under the name of Chromcraft, a division of the American Fixture Corporation. The legacy company manufactured a wide range of popular furniture and commercial goods, ranging from desks and record racks, to ammunition containers to skateboards and even a few carousel horses through the late 1960s.

In 1961, the dinette business was relocated to Mississippi, and Chromcraft also began producing rocket launchers for the government at the St. Louis facility. By 1967, the company had changed its name to Techfab and had upwards of 800 employees who produced 3,000 chairs, 250 case goods, 600 cardboard-tubed rocket launchers and up to 100 aluminum-tubed rocket launchers every day.

In 1969, the company was purchased by Harvard Industries, and the business expanded into electronics during the 1970s. They began renting additional manufacturing space in Arnold, Mo., approximately 20 miles south of St. Louis, so the electronics business could take root. In 1976, the rental site was purchased outright and had expanded four times by the mid-1980s. During this time, the company had approximately 150 employees who designed and produced many handy everyday items such as smoke detectors, security systems, hospital bed switches, CB monitors, circuit boards, fuel primer pumps and remote automobile starters.

Over the next decade, the company earned more defense contracts for rocket launchers and decided to divest the furniture business. The St. Louis facility was closed in 1998, and the rocket launcher business moved to the Arnold location. In that same timeframe, an 8,000-square foot warehouse was constructed to house production materials and the die-cast fuel pump business also moved to the Arnold facility. In 2000, the fireworks business, Pyrocraft, was developed and added to the portfolio. Using military-grade electronic firing systems in the commercial pyrotechnics industry, Pyrocraft provided a safer and more reliable launch system for fireworks demonstrations across the world.

In August 2002, the company was purchased by Durable Metal Enterprises (DME) and changed its name to Arnold Defense & Electronics. In 2005, the company was bought by its current owners, Tactical Systems Group, LLC. Throughout the last decade, the company has focused on listening intently to the needs of the warfighter and becoming an award-winning defense supplier. Today, Arnold Defense works closely with the U.S. Department of Defense and dozens of NATO customers, and almost exclusively manufactures rocket launchers and related electronic components such as the intervalometer.

Arnold Defense is a privately-held small company that employs professional fabricators, welders, electronic engineers and quality control experts who manufacture more than 1,000 launchers every year. Arnold Defense remains the world’s preeminent manufacturer of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, and has produced more than 1.1 million units since 1961.