Weiss Sheet Metal Inc.
Weiss Sheet Metal Inc. in Avon, Massachusetts, dates back to 1934 when the company began as a metal shop company owned by European emigrants, Jack Weiss and Eli Tappan. The duo set upon the task to produce a commercial washing machine under the Weiss name, subsequently establishing themselves as machinists with a solid reputation for quality.
In 1947, at the age of 16, future owner George DeLano went to work at the company, which was then based in Boston. Although his time at the metal shop was interrupted by four years of military service, George returned to the company after completing his patriotic duty. When Weiss and Tappan opted to sell the business in the 1960s, George and his brother Ralph raised the $10,000 asking price, keeping the company name of Weiss due to its robust standing in the metals industry.
The company shifted direction under the ownership of the DeLano brothers, evolving from a focus on the manufacture of commercial dishwashers to other metalworking projects, including stainless steel kitchen equipment for the restaurant and laboratory industries. Early clients included Paramount Equipment, Papa Gino’s, Silver Restaurant Supply and Harbor Food Company. Building such a pedigreed client roster did not happen overnight – George and Ralph would often work up to 16 hours a day, six days a week in their efforts to build the successful business.
Weiss Sheet Metal saw many changes over the following years, moving from a 1,000-square-foot building at Roxbury Crossing to a larger space on Tremont Street in downtown Boston. When the Boston Redevelopment Agency required the Tremont Street building to construct a superhighway in 1975, the DeLano brothers purchased a 10,000-square-foot building in Roxbury.
In 1980, Weiss Sheet Metal had experienced enough growth for its owners to build a 15,000 square foot facility in an industrial park in Avon, Massachusetts. By this time, George’s son Wayne and Ralph’s son Brian had joined the family business; with its expansion, cousins Wayne and Brian took the lead in customer development and eventually became full partners of Weiss Sheet Metal. In 2000, the company had again outgrown its space and moved to its present 27,000 square foot building in the Avon industrial park.
Branching into new markets
Today, Weiss Sheet Metal celebrates 50 years under the management of the DeLano family. The company’s stainless steel products can be found in many Boston area restaurants, as well as hospitals, laboratories, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and Logan Airport. The Weiss brand of sheet metal products have also been used in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, the Hilton Hotel chain and Harvard University.
Wayne and Brian DeLano have ventured into new markets and industries over recent years, specifically developing the millwork industry segment of the operation. Today, millwork projects represent about 20 percent of the entire business. An upcoming new market for Weiss Sheet Metal is the water purification industry. “We are now associated with a firm that has developed a prototype for killing bacteria,” says Brian.
Always looking toward avenues for growth, the DeLano cousins have also successfully honed their networking and social media skills. Their attendance at various Boston-based business expos, the development of a sophisticated company website, and a LinkedIn presence have parlayed into continued expansion of both the commercial and residential sides of the business.
The DeLanos have always prioritized investment in equipment. Recently, the company purchased machinery that produces an increased amount of product; in addition it can bend metal more efficiently, keeping with Weiss Sheet Metal’s “in today and out tomorrow” business philosophy.
High-caliber craftsmanship and quick delivery may be the hallmarks of Weiss Sheet Metal, but its employees are at the heart of the business’ success. “All our employees take great pride in their work, so everyone wants to make sure that when something leaves the shop it is done right,” says Brian.
Looking ahead, Wayne and Brian DeLano hope to encourage a member or two of the third-generation into the business. “They may be part-time at first to get their feet wet,” says Wayne, acknowledging that the younger generation is more computer and social media savvy – elements that are becoming increasingly necessary in order for a business to survive and thrive.
Wayne and Brian DeLano recognize that the future of Weiss Sheet Metal will likely evolve with the next generation as much as it did when they took over the reins from their fathers. “Our fathers’ approach was one of relative simplicity,” says Brian. “If there was no money in the bank, they didn’t buy equipment. We’re not as strict on that regard and will borrow, knowing that our investments will eventually pay for themselves. If we like a concept, we’ll act on it, without overextending.”
The future of Weiss Sheet Metal is bright, according to its owners, noting that a recent annual evaluation indicated a “strong big picture.” “Our dads laid the foundation of the present company, based on their commitment to providing quality, value and prompt turnaround,” says Wayne. “It’s a legacy of excellence we intend to maintain now and in the future.”
As the company continues to build on its strong reputation, Weiss Sheet Metal Inc. will also explore new markets, all the while maintaining the attention to detail and commitment to customers that have come to define the family business.
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