When Ty Cobb opened Trident Custom Coatings in East Dundee two years ago, he didn't expect to be swept up in the firearms business.
He had obtained a license allowing him to handle guns if necessary. But the Sleepy Hollow resident, who had years of prior experience in the automotive industry, figured he'd be focusing his efforts largely on customized car and motorcycle parts.
It wasn't long, however, before gun-related orders took up 90 percent of Cobb's business. Then, when special requests started flooding in, he began a new corporation, called Trident Defense, for manufacturing and distributing firearm parts.
Now, the company has been granted permission to begin operating a boutique retail outlet out of its facility at 555 Plate Drive so Cobb can show off his products and sell one-of-a-kind guns.
"Just like custom cars or motorcycles, people like to have an extension of them. That'd be a custom firearm," said Cobb, a self-proclaimed gun enthusiast. "Believe it or not, most of our clientele are females who are more into customizing our firearms and making them fit their lifestyle."
The East Dundee village board this week approved a special-use permit that allows Trident Defense to purchase and sell firearms, contingent upon several conditions. The retail operation, for example, must be an extension of Cobb's business and cannot be its sole purpose, according to village documents. Additionally, all sales must be recorded, and police must approve a security plan to ensure guns are kept in a safe space.
Police Chief Terry Mee also said firearms cannot be tested on the property, as it does not have an approved gun range.
Trident will continue what has become a successful coating operation, Cobb said, and it isn't limited to firearms. About 10 percent of its business deals with automotive parts, and he even gets requests to coat other items, such as mailboxes.
The business's main focus, however, has become manufacturing customized firearms and parts for clients, which include major gun stores such as GAT Guns in East Dundee.
The in-house retail component is expected to be minor, he said, as a majority of the company's sales will be online. A small showroom will be set up in the East Dundee facility for customers to explore and, if they like what they see, purchase the product.
"We just didn't want to eliminate the possibility of someone locally purchasing something," Cobb said.