FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - The craziest trophy Lynn Hood made commemorated victory in a cow-pie tossing contest.
She found the genuine article, dried it, sealed it and painted it gold. The grandma who won the contest loved the trophy.
"I actually went with latex gloves to a friend who had a cow field," she said. "It's a real cow pie."
Hood and her husband, Neal, own and operate Atlas Engraving and Awards at 211 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington. They do many more traditional trophies, often for youth sports, graduations and beauty pageants.
Increasingly, however, the bulk of Atlas' work comes from the oil and gas industry. Several years ago, the Hoods noticed a need for employee recognitions and equipment labeling for everything from trucks to safety signs.
"The oilfield just is bread and butter," Lynn said. "It never stops."
While many of the events that call for trophies, medallions and recognition plaques are seasonal in nature, oil and gas firms have no offseason.
"That keeps us busy year-round," Lynn said.
She estimates 70 percent of Atlas' orders come from industrial clients such as Exterran, TurboCare, Halliburton Co. and ConocoPhillips.
"We didn't advertise," Lynn said. "It was just word of mouth - and it exploded."
Atlas illustrates the economic spillover effect of San Juan County's oil and gas industry. Drillers in northwest New Mexico produced nearly 815 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2011, according to the state Oil Conservation Division.
Although the industry has shrunk its presence in the San Juan Basin in recent years, it still provides thousands of jobs. Those workers keep afloat grocery stores, restaurants and even trophy shops.
"The oil and gas industry takes a lot of pride in what they do and the accomplishments of people who work in the industry," said Dorothy Nobis, president and CEO of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce. "If the general public knew how much oil and gas does for its employees and the community, they'd be pleasantly surprised."
Nobis said the chamber also patronizes Atlas.
"Lynn does a great job, and she does great customer service," Nobis said.
San Juan County has several other trophy shops that serve various niches, including Tanco, Kahili Awards and Graphic Designer in Farmington, and Aztec Trophies and Finish Line Graphics in Aztec.
At Atlas, the busiest month tends to be May, when high school sports collide with graduations and teacher retirements.
Baseball stretches throughout the summer. "It's a baseball-loving town," Lynn said. "We love it."
The shop does not provide trophies for perhaps Farmington's largest amateur sports event, the Connie Mack World Series. The national baseball organization uses its own vendor.
The Hoods started Atlas after careers driving long-haul trucks. The idea germinated for years before the Hoods opened the store.
Lynn was buying some knickknacks at a garage sale when the seller told her he had something special in back - an engraving machine.
"I had no idea what it was and what to do with it, but I wanted it," she said. "For six months I sneezed cleaning that up, and we started it out of the house."
Atlas moved downtown in 1994. Lynn and Neal have no employees. Previous hires didn't work out, they said.
"We tried," Lynn said. "They don't teach anybody how to read a ruler anymore, and they can't use math because it's all on the computer."
The engraving machine remains at the shop, whirring away on medallions for high school softball all-stars one day last week. After her time-consuming purchase, Lynn has vowed to stay away from garage sales.
"I haven't been to one since," she said. "I'm scared of what I'm going to find."