Quick Hits Boston: Behind the Success of Randolph Engineering

Jan Waszkiewicz and his business partner Stanley Zaleski never could have imagined their American dream of building a better pair of sunglasses would turn into a global brand now being sold in more than 50 countries. That’s just what the team behind Randolph Engineering has done.

Randolph Fusion CollectionPhoto Credit: Randolph Engineering

The company has been producing metal frame eyewear in its Massachusetts factory for more than 40 years and is now the only remaining metal eyewear manufacturer in the country. From stylish sunglasses and prescription frames to professional sport shooting eyewear and eye protection for the US military, Randolph Engineering is now at the forefront of the industry.

The family owned and operated ISO-certified company (now in its third generation) is the go-to brand coveted by A-list celebrities like Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise and Amy Adams (keep an eye out for Zac Efron sporting a pair like the ones below in the new Baywatch movie being released on May 25) as well as all branches of the military for their custom aviator sunglasses.

Randolph USAPhoto Credit: Randolph USA

How did the brand come about? “My father earned his wings in the Royal Air Force before coming to the United States on the Queen Elizabeth from Poland,” said Randolph’s President and CEO Peter Waszkiewicz. “He met my mother here, worked hard and he and his partner opened their own business. Stanley’s son also works here, which is a testament to both of our family’s ability to work together and communicate. The company started as an engineering company making tools for the optical trade, but they knew they needed to diversify so they started making their own eyewear.”

We recently toured the Randolph, Mass. headquarters where each set of glasses is diligently and intricately handcrafted using top grade materials like impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses combined with precious metal frames that are assembled in over 200 steps to create the Randolph signature look. With just around 70 employees, Waszkiewicz greets every one by name as he passes by. “We really are a family here,” he smiles, and truly means it. “It’s a labor intensive process (we only have two automated machines) and I know how precise everyone has to be to create the perfect look. We treat the line like a piece of jewelry that has to be flawless. They are very skilled at what they do. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the people who work here.”

Randolph EngineeringPhoto Credit: Randolph Engineering

The detailed process starts out by creating a high quality wire for the frames. Then, through a series of detailed steps, the handcrafting process begins. At first glance, you might not be aware how much effort goes into making a pair of sunglasses, but we were shown the intricate process, which included everything from braising the hinges, providing just the right amount of soldering and creating pad arms for the nose pads to stamping the Randolph logo, cutting the glass, and securing it into the frames. Each pair of glasses, which comes with a maintenance kit complete with screws and a tiny screwdriver, is backed up with a lifetime guarantee on every frame.

This season, gorgeous colors are at the forefront of the new Infinity Collection. From jewelry quality gold plating to anti-reflective coating, the stylish collection offers optical clarity combined with lightweight durability. (You can check out the collection’s six new hues today at a pop-up shop in an Airstream Classic on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Infinity CollectionPhoto Credit: Randolph Engineering

Within the next couple of years, the company will be looking to expand, which certainly is a good problem to have. “What also makes us unique is that all of the machines that we work with were all constructed in house,” Waszkiewicz added. “We produce handcrafted metal eyewear at production volumes and we want to be the eyewear of choice in the United States. We are proud to employ American workers and want business owners to know that manufacturing is possible in this country. We were always the world’s best kept secret, but now we want our story told.”