When Olivier Scherlofsky retired last year after a distinguished career in the Austrian Armed Forces, he was just in his early 30s and ready to try his hand in business.
“I wanted to do something else, to build something up myself,” the Vienna native said. “It was a good time in my life to make a change from the military to the private sector.”
Scherlofsky and his wife, Dr. Kimberly Cox Scherlofsky, were newly married and had begun to settle down in her hometown of Gautier. He then set about putting together a company that forged his military background, family connections and business studies.
The result is Trade League Mississippi Central Europe Inc., an international venture that so far includes Atlantic Marksmen, an ammunition manufacturing company he is opening in Gulfport with Ricky Bishop, whose Specialty Machine builds equipment for chemical plants and refineries.
The company is already selling its flagship Lapua ammunition made in Finland and Germany to gun shops across the Gulf Coast. The brand is widely known for its high quality. “People cannot believe we have Lapua,” he said. “When we do our own manufacturing at the beginning of the year, we will already be known in the shops for providing such a famous brand.”
Scherlofsky is dedicating himself full time to the new business venture but still takes time out four times a year to be a guest lecturer at a U.S. military special ops training class in Florida.
His military background is broad. He voluntarily joined the Jaeger forces, the Austrian Armed Forces ranger-type light infantry, at the age of 17 and was selected for the junior military leadership training program, which he completed with honors.
He was deployed on several NATO military missions to Kosovo and Macedonia, and to Israel and Syria as commander of the UN Military Police detachment. Other missions took him to Lebanon and Albania. He was team leader of a NATO Special Police Unit for unstable areas on the Balkans and was specially awarded for his service.
He was selected as a tactical training instructor for Austria’s Military Police Command on missions abroad.
His military duties included studying International Law and Relations and he contributed to military field manuals. He also published academic works in the fields of EU military policies and anti-terrorism policies. Scherlofsky retired with the rank of master sergeant.
He is two exams away from his master’s degree in Austria and plans to finish up his business studies at the University of Southern Mississippi where his wife is external recruiter for the Office of Admissions and adjunct instructor for the Department of Political Science at USM Gulf Coast. The couple met when she was studying for a doctorate in international law in Vienna.
“Next year I will apply for dual citizenship,” he said.
His family roots reach back to the Middle Ages in Austria, Bohemia, Prussia, Silesia, Hungary, Saxony and Croatia. Scherlofsky said his and his family’s contacts back in Austria and Germany have helped launch his Gulfport-based business. “We used our strong industry network to get the door open and get supplies in Austria and Germany we wouldn’t get otherwise,” he said.
In the future, Scherlofsky said, he wants to expand into importing, exporting and distributing other goods. “We also want to help small American companies to get into the Central European market. We operate in both directions. When small companies that have certain products fit in our portfolio, we can help them in the other direction. It’s perfect synergy.”
Scherlofsky said he’s finding living on the Mississippi Coast and working in the Gulf Coast region a good experience.
“I really like the Southern culture and the Southern people very much. The other thing I like is the political and economic environment of the South and how they treat businesses. I tell everybody in Europe that the South is the best.”