A few months back the people at Randolph Engineering, Inc. got in touch with me and inquired if I would be interested in discussin the company’s products on The Fine Young Gentleman. I was not only interested about Randolph Engineering because I have liked their products but I had also heard nothing but good things about the company and its products until that point (including its collaboration with Michael Bastian) so I obliged. At first I was thinking we would do some form of a product review, but upon doing some research and talking with the brand I asked if I could visit their production facility in Randolph, Massachusetts where they manufacture over 90% of its products. They were nice enough to oblige.
Before we get into the production of the glasses I think it would be prudent to give a little background on Randolph Engineering. Randolph Engineering was started in 1972 by two Polish immigrants Jan Waszkiewicz (Chairman of the Board and Co-founder) and Stanley Zaleski (Co-Founder) who worked together as machinists at another eyewear factory. Although they were producing machinery and other optical products beginning in 1972, it wasn’t until 1978 that they made their first sunglasses using the machinery they had developed. In 1982 Randolph got its first military contract – it was to provide the standard issue sunglasses for Air Force pilots (cue thoughts of Top Gun, Tom Cruise pre-scientology meltdown and Danger Zone). Although Randolph Engineering no longer has that contract it does provide standard issue sunglasses for Naval aviators and Army helicopter pilots.
In addition to its metal framed glasses Randolph also produces shooting glasses under its Ranger line, prescription glasses and clip ons and a smaller selection of acetate framed glasses. But the Michael Bastian P-3 and Aviator remain my favorites.
Commercial sales are currently between 50-55% of sales and the rest is made up of military contracts and private label work. Randolph Engineering aims to increase sales by 30-40%, per year over the next 5 years. To support aggressive growth plans and an increase in demand, Randolph is building infrastructure to ensure it can continue to deliver high quality products to its customers. In the last 18 months alone they have hired 24 new people, a testament to the company’s growing international reputation. Looking forward they want to introduce 8 new styles in the coming year. This past year Randolph introduced 4.
I was fortunate enough to be guided through Randolph Engineering’s factory by Mary Waszkiewicz (grand-daughter) and Richard Zaleski (son), relatives of the two co-founders. However, there are numerous other family members from both families also working at Randolph. It is very much a family business. We went through every step of production and finishing. To be honest, previous to this visit I never really thought about the process to make a pair of glasses, especially metal framed ones. But this former apathy allowed me to absorb everything I saw and heard as a blank slate. Not to sound too much like a kid, but it was really, really, really cool.
So, there you have it. Some of, if not the, finest sunglasses made here in our country, The United States Of America.