American Icons: Peter Waszkiewicz and Randolph Engineering
When it comes to manufacturing, there is nothing more patriotic than a brand that actually makes its products in the U.S.A.
And that is exactly what Randolph Engineering has done for nearly four decades. Founded in 1972 by Jan Waszkiewicz and Stanley Zaleski in Massachusetts, the company initially served as a support system – supplying tooling, dies and machinery – for America’s booming optical manufacturing industry.
By 1978, the company was making its own sunglasses for the U.S. Air Force. Just a few years later, Randolph was successful and proficient enough to land a contract with the Department of Defense to produce sunglasses for the U.S. military.
Today, Randolph’s ties to the military continue, something that current CEO Peter Waszkiewicz (yes, Jan’s son) recently told us that he takes immense pride in. “We’ve had 35 years of building a product for the military,” he said. “With the military it is all about form, fit and function… Today, we also look at trends, but form, fit and function is engrained in what we do when we design a product.”
In 1975, at the age of 18, Peter joined the company as an apprentice in the tool room. He eventually worked his way up the corporate ladder to his current position in 2004, all while taking the time to earn his degree in business management from Northeastern University .
Today, Randolph is the only metal manufacturer in the country. And it continues to make its sunglasses in the United States, relying on European countries to supply only a few component parts (hinges, screws and nose pads) they are unable to produce here.
“Manufacturing is our heritage and it always has been,” said Waszkiewicz. “We’re really proud of what we do and we have great pride in putting Americans to work.”
And by continuing to manufacture sunglasses here, Waszkiewicz knows that Randolph can control the quality of its product. “One of the things my dad said that I’ll never forget is that it takes years to build a reputation and only months to tear it down. He was referencing quality, and it’s true.”
Jan came to America by route of England, where he served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He had done so after escaping his home country of Poland following the German invasion.
“He met his wife, my mom, in England during the war,” Peter said. “When the war ended, from all the good stories he heard about America, he decided to come here and start a new life with his family. He had his own American dream and this company is a classic example of the American dream.”
While Jan has since passed, his legacy continues. Randolph is now owned and operated by three generations of his family.
The ties to the military continue though there is now more of a focus on commercial sunglasses. So along with form, fit and function, these days Randolph is also focusing on style, understanding how important that is to the consumer.
And with its Made in the U.S.A. insignia, customers can be satisfied that quality will never be compromised.
Words of an Icon: “I always knew we built a great product, but it is also about believing that you can do just as good as anybody else. It is about believing in yourself and thinking, ‘Why can’t we compete with them?’” – Randolph CEO Peter Waszkiewicz