Popular US Eyewear Brand Sees Business Booming
In Randolph, Massachusetts, population 32,000, the sign says it all: RandolphUSA.
There, workers make the sunglasses that US fighter pilots have worn for nearly 40 years.
"That's our heritage," said Peter Waszkiewicz, CEO of Randolph Engineering. "People don't realize what goes into making a pair of metal frames - over 200 steps. It's quite amazing. [And] it all happens here."
And that staying power has paid off. US fighter pilots are not the only ones donning the specs these days.From Robert Redford in 2001's "Spy Game" and Tom Cruise in 2013's "Oblivion" to the character of Don Draper in "Mad Men," Randolphs can be seen on the silver and small screens and are putting the company back into high gear.
Waszkiewicz's father invented the sunglasses in 1975, when 90 percent of the frames sold in the US were made in America. Waszkiewicz said now just 3 percent are made in the US.
Waszkiewicz said he'd had many offers over the years to manufacture the glasses overseas but did not want to take any chances having the glasses come apart.
"In the '80s, everything went overseas. … We stayed. … And we love it and we're on the forefront of bringing optical manufacturing back to this country," he said.
Now, the Randolph company ships to foreign customers and is making new glasses daily - and creating new jobs.
"In Japan, in China, in Korea, made in the USA really matters," said Ekene Ofodile, senior vice president of sales.
"The whole 'made in the USA' movement is growing," Waszkiewicz said. "We've had 60 percent growth in our employees since 2009."
Sales are up and company made dozens of new hires in the last year and a half.
"We're committed to manufacturing here in the US. … I mean, when you have a pilot flying a multimillion-dollar jet, you can't afford to have a screw fall out," he said. "We've been making eyewear for 40 years. We're all about quality. We're well-known for our quality and are so confident, we'll guarantee our frames for life."