Randolph Engineering – An Authentic American Story
Jan Waszkiewicz was born in Poland in 1920 and as a young boy took a number of technical courses but was forced to quit when the war in Europe started. Life in Poland became very difficult and dangerous with the expansion of the Nazi empire.
Hitler’s army had overrun Poland when Waskiewicz was just 16 years old. The family was concerned for their safety and decided that they had to leave Poland and travel to Southern France where they felt they would be safe from the Nazis.
On Christmas Eve, 1939 four members of the Waszkiewicz family fled their home in Poland travelling by night through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy and on into southern France.
After arriving in France one of the family, young 19 year old Jan Waszkiewicz joined up with the French Army but soon after became a Nazi prisoner of war in 1940.
After three months in a prisoner of war camp Jan and another young man from Poland managed to escape. There were so many prisoners being captured and the camps were terribly disorganized making it easy to leave undetected. Fleeing through Southern France, Switzerland, and Gibraltar they finally arrived in England in December of 1940.
Jan Waszkieweicz Becomes A Flyer
Still wanting to serve Jan Waszkiewicz joined the English Army and was assigned to tank patrols, but later he transferred to the Royal Air Force and became a navigator. During the Second World War he flew 32 bomber missions and remained in England for another three years after the war.
He finally chose the United States because he had met a lot of American flyers during the war who had filled his head with stories about the United States. He immigrated to the Boston area because it was culturally similar with what he was familiar with in Europe.
After arriving in Boston he continued his education at Northeastern University and got a job as a tool and die maker. Later on he found employment at the American Optical Company (manufacturer of the AO General and AO Pilots sunglasses) and then Marine Optical (a manufacturer of eyeglass frames) which went out of business in 2006.
By now Waszkiewicz had learned a great deal about manufacturing eye wear for opticians, and decided to take his technical skills and start his own business in his home town of Randolph, Massachusetts.
Randolph Engineering, Inc. Is Born
In 1972 Jan Waszkiewicz formed Randolph Engineering with another engineer, Stanley Zaleski. Together they designed and built most of the machinery used in the plant, working from 7 am in the morning until 9 pm at night most days.
Initially Randolph Engineering focused its efforts on designing and manufacturing optical tools and machinery for the eyeglass frame trade based upon advanced engineering principles. The partners quickly recognized that the manufacturers who were buying their machinery were not making optical frames and pilot sunglasses frames to the quality standards they believed could be achieved.
In time the partners decided to change the focus of Randolph Engineering from manufacturing tooling to other manufacturers and decided to manufacture their own eye wear using the tools and machinery designed and built by the company itself.
Randolph Engineering Becomes A US DOD Supplier
In 1977 Randolph Engineering acquired its first government contract for their Randolph Engineering Aviator sunglasses and by 1982 had become the prime contractor for military aviator sunglasses for the U.S. Department of Defense. Initially 200,000 pairs of Randolph Engineering aviator sunglasses were made for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army in 1982.
Since that time Randolph Engineering, Inc. has provided specialty sunglasses for a number of government agencies ranging from aviator sunglasses for Air Force pilots to their famous P3 Submariner sunglasses for submariners in the U.S. Navy.
Recently the company signed 2 contracts with the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency worth $ 9 million each, followed by their most recent contract for $ 38+ million signed on 12/23/11.
On the left you can see an image of the current manufacturing facility in Randolph, MA from my recent visit. The kind people at Randolph were happy to provide us with a tour of the factory, and an opportunity to meet the current management – the children and grand children of Jan Waskiewicz.
Inside were rows and rows of work benches where the frames are assembled and soldered, along with various stations where the frame wire is cut, shaped, tumbled in a rock tumbler to remove burrs on to assembly and quality control examination.
Anyone who owns a pair of these exceptional sunglasses already knows the beauty of the frames, the comfort of the style and how they can see everything distortion free through the premium mineral glass lenses.
Made In The USA
All of Randolph Engineering’s sunglasses are made at their U.S. location in Randolph, MA using only a handful of international components.
Randolph Engineering supplies aviator sunglasses to many air forces around the world including Australia, Belgium, Israel and Jordan. Among Randolph Engineering’s many achievements was the 1997 Massachusetts Product Export Achievement Award in recognition of their achievements in international trade.
Randolph Engineering has continued to improve their products and have won the respect of pilots and others who spend a great deal of time outdoors in bright sunlight. Their world class distortion free glass lenses provide incredible visual acuity for the wearer while keeping their eyes safe from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The glass lenses keep the wearer’s eyes cool and comfortable even after all day in harsh sunlight.
Randolph Engineering Today
Today Randolph Engineering, Inc. continues to offer commercial lines of premium products including aviator sunglasses, specialty sunglasses, shooting eyewear and prescription frames. At Randolph Engineering every pair of aviator sunglasses goes through over 200 manufacturing operations, many of which are accomplished by hand by skilled craftsmen.
I recently took a tour of the Randolph Engineering plant and spotted Stanley working on a bench, certainly coming up with yet another new design to keep the company at the forefront of eye wear. You can see him in the image to the right.
Overtures to purchase the company have been turned down, and today several of the Waszkiewicz family are still active in the business, including the current CEO Peter Waszkiewicz and Mary Waszkiewicz head of Marketing and Public Relations.
Randolph Aviator Sunglasses are recognized worldwide as the benchmark by which other sunglasses are measured, and provide exceptional comfort, performance and value. These Made in the USA products are designed to last as testified by the many testimonials and customer reviews we get each year.
If you are looking for a great pair of sunglasses that are comfortable to wear, look great, are durable and provide distortion free visual acuity, then you can’t go wrong with a pair of Randolph Aviator sunglasses!
John M. White a/k/a JetAviator7