Ed and Hugo - True Entrepreneurs
Ed, the more outspoken of the two, enjoyed playing golf and the company of many friends and acquaintances. Hugo, the reflective one, savored his quiet time out in a boat on Narragansett Bay with rod and reel. Both men were united with the common belief in the values of hard work and family. They possessed the strength and zeal to be true entrepreneurs, and displayed genuine humanitarian qualities.
Hugo and Ed worked together at a small company called TFE Industries. They learned and understood the intricacies of the PTFE skived tape business and realized that their combined talents and abilities could bring a superior product to a growing market. The two would join together, bolstered by the highest degree of mutual respect, and share in the work necessary to form a new company. They agreed that Ed would be responsible for the operations and engineering functions, while Hugo managed sales and marketing. They surrounded themselves with people who they knew would embrace their vision for business - people in whom they could place their faith and trust. These same qualities are found in all DeWAL team members today.
A New Business in an Old Building
The first plant and offices shared space with a wedding dress manufacturer and a van conversion shop in an aged textile mill on Main Street in Hope, Rhode Island. The challenges of producing a modern product in an archaic building were many. Equally problematic was the unavailability of processing equipment - there simply wasn't any. Both of these issues were expertly resolved through the efforts of DeWAL chief engineer Richard Eggleton. With the financial support, advice, and encouragement of Hugo and Ed, Eggleton built, rebuilt, and retrofitted the manufacturing space and nearly all of the tools and equipment. The team became an industrial icon, and PTFE film standards were redefined by DeWAL. Customers marveled at the quality and consistency of the products. Steadily, the customer base grew as did the DeWAL organization.
The initial product offering served customers within the wire and cable industry. Products were eventually expanded into other industries due to the DeWAL ability to solve problems, eliminate red tape, and provide unparalleled customer service. Ed and Hugo worked very hard to insure the company's success. They continued to reinforce their original vision of family, customer needs, and quality of product. Their own personal accessibility remained as strong as ever, as did their admiration for each other and their employees.
Those who knew these two men were amazed at just how well they would work together. It was not unusual, for example, for the two to independently walk out of their offices with two different perspectives and meet in the hall with exactly the same idea in mind. They always supported each other's decisions.
A New Bigger Plant and Headquarters in 1979
After four years in the 10,000 square foot Hope location with fifteen employees and an ever-increasing customer base, DeWAL had outgrown the old lace mill. After an extensive search, Hugo and Ed found a modern but underutilized building in an industrial zone in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The two agreed that the building would not only serve their current needs, but would provide space for future expansion.
In 1982 the company moved into its new headquarters at 15 Ray Trainor Road along with their employees, processing equipment, products and a bright future. Within six months the fifteen thousand square feet of manufacturing space was swarming with the two dozen members of the DeWAL team.
Employees who have worked for the company since that time remember the family atmosphere they found in this "nice place to work." One reflected recently about how the owners would bring in sandwiches during Saturday overtime and about the remarkable care and concern they would genuinely express. Another told of how the owners would continually invest in the company for new equipment and innovative processes, which improved both DeWAL products and its employees' working conditions. "I'm happy here," spoke another.
A Well Rounded Offering of Polymer Films - More Plant Expansions
Much has happened during the years since Ed Walsh and Hugo DiClemente started their DeWAL Industries. The product line has been greatly expanded from its modest beginnings to include, in addition to the finest skived PTFE available, a well-rounded offering of polymer films including UHMW and filled compounds. Coated films and fabrics are converted by DeWAL into an impressive line of pressure sensitive tapes. New products emerge from DeWAL development engineers. The manufacturing space has been expanded once again, and the company's future and the dedication of its employees and managers have never been brighter.
The New Generation
Hugo DiClemente and Ed Walsh had owned and successfully run DeWAL for 17 years, when they gathered their sons, David and Warren DiClemente and Eric and Ned Walsh and told them they wanted the four to eventually run DeWAL. So Ed and Hugo have not only been wonderful friends to many but also wise fathers.
Sadly, both Hugo and Ed have passed away. But during their lifetimes, they gradually transferred the responsibility of DeWAL to the capable hands of their children - having first instilled in these young people their vision and solid operating values. The new guardians of their fathers' legacy are proud of the seamless transition to their control. They take great pride continuing to value family and remaining accessible - satisfying the customer and producing only the finest of products. A long time employee observed, "Ed and Hugo built a very solid foundation. It would take a lot to shake this foundation."