Business

Randolph Engineering sunglasses find niche as American-made eyewear

Randolph Engineering’s high-end shades got a big lift when they were featured in the first three seasons of “Mad Men” — that’s actor Jon Hamm (far right) wearing a pair.
Randolph Engineering’s high-end shades got a big lift when they were featured in the first three seasons of “Mad Men” — that’s actor Jon Hamm (far right) wearing a pair.Credit: Photos by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

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Like many small manufacturers across America in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the tool-making company Randolph Engineering faced a stark choice. It could adapt or die.

Founders Jan Waszkiewicz and Stanley Zaleski had launched the company in 1972 as an optical machinery factory. Six years later, they saw tough times ahead and chose to reinvent Randolph Engineering as a maker of high-quality sunglasses.

For many years, the company produced sunglasses exclusively for military pilots. Then Randolph slowly began to sell sunglasses to retail customers in the late 1990s. Today, the company’s sunglass factory makes more than 500,000 pairs of glasses a year. Randolph’s products are on display to millions as popular eyewear for characters in movies and on television.

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