Like all great companies that credit its successes to the American Dream, the Zampell Companies trace its roots to humble beginnings. Thomas J. “Tom” Zampell, born in 1916 as the son of Italian immigrants, began his career in life by working at General Electric in Lynn , MA . In his 30 year career there, including time off to fight in World War II, he worked his way to becoming the head of maintenance at the Lynn facility. At the time, the facility had well over 200 furnaces in operation that they used in their processes for making aircraft parts. The care and maintenance of these furnaces became a passion of his, along with the many other construction projects that he oversaw in his time at the Lynn facility.
After 30 years, he decided to leave General Electric and start Zampell Refractories, Inc. in 1966, continuing his passion for refractories that he gained while working on furnaces. As a lifelong resident in Beverly, MA, Tom founded the company in a small building on 90 Park Street. As a talented mason himself, Tom sought to build a refractory contracting business that promoted hard work, quality, and craftsmanship and rewarding those employees who embody the same principles and talents that he valued.
These principles are carried forward today and are a core element to the success that Zampell achieves on an annual basis.
The early years at Zampell found the company focused on the refractory repair and maintenance of industrial heat treat furnaces throughout the Northeast United States, incinerators, power plants, foundries, mills, and small power and heating boilers at the many schools, hospitals, textile mills, tanneries, factories, and other local industrial facilities.
At the time, the industrial market of New England was far different than it was today and the opportunities for a refractory contractor were much different.
The focus remained always on the customer with an emphasis on getting their equipment back online as quickly as possible and in excellent operating condition.
Tom was always known to his customers as a fair and ethical man who would always prioritize doing a job right above all else, even if it meant redoing it. It was always said that Tom never liked being told he did a good job since he would say, “That’s why you hired me.”
Incineration and Evolution
In 1975, a company called Wheelabrator Technologies and a man named Dan Madigan worked to build one of the first Waste-to-Energy facilities in the United States. This facility was designed to turn municipal solid waste into a clean energy solution versus the traditional fossil fuels or nuclear power. This facility was built in Saugus, MA, originally as a steam supply unit for General Electric which was across the river in Lynn, MA . Dan Madigan and Tom Zampell already had a strong, trusting relationship from all the work that Tom did for Dan while he worked for the United Shoe Corp., a manufacturing facility in Beverly, MA. When it came time to repair these units in Saugus, Dan called upon Tom and the people at Zampell to keep them operating. Zampell was always there and ready to respond, day or night, to keep that facility operating in the fledgling years of waste incineration technology.
In 1976, the second generation of Zampell, James C. “Jim” Zampell, joined the business full time. At the time, Zampell Refractories, Inc. had about 17 employees and did roughly $500,000 per year in revenue.
Jim quickly brought change and new ideas to the company, focusing on growth and leveraging the company’s diverse background of talented employees to build a stronger business.
The larger economic environment of the time fostered more growth in Waste-to-Energy, and by the 1980′s, plants were beginning to be built up and down the East Coast of the United States.
In 1981, Jim became the President and CEO of Zampell Refractories with the hopes of carrying on the great tradition already started by his father. Recognizing the opportunities in Waste-to-Energy, Jim built his growth around meeting the needs of the new and developing Waste-to-Energy customers with Zampell’s unique experience in this field. Jim would go on to open an office in Florida in 1994, Connecticut in 1996, and Pennsylvania in 1999 with the goal of capturing all of the Waste-to-Energy business that surrounded these hubs.
At the same time, Zampell began to explore other larger scale opportunities in the Northeast and beyond. Due to its initial experience with incineration, Zampell got involved in the repair and maintenance of refractory in rotary combustors which were found in many local incineration facilities in Massachusetts. The next logical step for Zampell was to focus growth on rotary kilns, found in the Pulp & Paper, Cement, and Minerals Processing Industries. In 1987, Zampell opened its division in Maine to focus on capturing this new avenue of business throughout the state. Jim and his team fostered the approach to use technology, payback analyses of different materials, and faster, safer installation methods to gain a competitive edge in this industry. Zampell’s usage of kiln rigs, conveyors, and refractory pumps make it a premier installer of a variety of kiln linings to this day.
In all of these growth endeavors, Jim never forgot what his father emphasized in the early days of Zampell Refractories, Inc. Jim always focused on craftsmanship, customer service, taking care of his employees, and also doing whatever the customers needed in the interest of growing the business. Zampell did more and more insulation, scaffolding, painting, and a variety of other services at their established customers through their growth under Jim’s direction. This approach to meeting all of a customer’s needs, whatever they may be, would help Jim see and build a whole new aspect of his business.
Project Management and Diversification
In 1986, Jim founded J.C. Zampell Construction, Inc. as a project management company. He utilized this company for the management of building the company offices that are still used today at the Zampell headquarters in Newburyport , MA.
He also utilized this company as a project management arm of Zampell Refractories in order to oversee the construction of new Waste-to-Energy facilities for Wheelabrator. This company began as a support structure for his existing business, but Jim found that this company would lend itself to a unique model of emerging business in the 1980′s – outsourcing.
In 1988, while the refractory divisions were growing stronger with the growth of Waste-to-Energy, Jim Zampell found a new opportunity that once again stemmed out of a long relationship with General Electric. General Electric in Lynn had a major core audit focusing on upgrading and improving the condition of its facilities to meet the needs of a government contract it had obtained. Jim orchestrated a tremendous number of subcontractors to meet a seemingly endless list of site projects in a very limited amount of time. The success of this project management endeavor gave birth to a new business and diversified his business into Facilities Management.
Zampell quickly found its niche in facilities maintenance upon winning the contract for all the landscaping, cleaning, and plowing at all of the Bell Atlantic sites in New England. Zampell also continued to provide these same services to General Electric and a variety of other customer sites. Jim’s own preference for a well-kept workplace already created a culture for keeping the company’s divisional business in good repair, so this logically worked very well as a new business.
Zampell’s experience from its engineering and contracting background in the industrial sector has helped build a diverse set of product offerings that differentiated Zampell from other facilities maintenance contractors. Zampell has the experience and talent in its staff to supply and manage engineering staff, handyman service teams, HVAC contractors, plumbing contractors, electricians, carpenters, painters, or whatever else a customer may need. Zampell seeks to bring the greatest value to its customers by offering a single point of contact where any facility can have all of its maintenance needs managed, beyond just landscaping, plowing, and cleaning.
Zampell today brings a diverse set of offerings from its employees and subcontractors to be a sole management source for any customer’s needs.
On the industrial side of the business, Zampell continued to pursue its goal to always remain on the cutting edge of product offerings. Jim always felt that if his company failed to develop and install the latest product, someone else would. The late Ray Flynn, who was formerly the Vice President of Engineering, and John Heffernan, formerly of Carborundum, now the National Sales Manager of Zampell, worked together to develop tiles for the Waste-to-Energy industry made with Silicon Carbide, a step beyond the usual monolithic solutions that had been used for so many years.
Zampell consistently re-engineers and assesses every aspect of their patented tile systems in order to be the premier Waste-to-Energy innovator for products and installation techniques in the United States.
The future in the Waste-to-Energy market is bright, considering the limited resources for power and cost-effective waste disposal around the world. In order to meet the growing demand for these facilities, Zampell regularly assesses and tests new materials that will aid in increasing the reliability and attractiveness of Waste-to-Energy as a renewable energy source. The more effectiveness of a lining, the more profitable a facility can perform; making these facilities a viable answer to the questions on energy and waste for future generations.
Zampell considers itself an innovation and engineering company when it comes to the solutions that it designs for all versions of Waste-to-Energy technologies. Zampell is currently on the forefront of refractory design and working closely with innovators in the plasma gasification technologies that aim to be the future of waste-to-energy.
Zampell and the Future
In 2006, Brian Zampell entered the company full time as the third generation of the Zampell family to be a part of this business. His initial focus and training was on the industrial side of the business where his grandfather began the traditions and principles that make all of the members of the Zampell family of companies great to this day. One of his first actions was to initiate change to a customer centric operational model. The business entities formerly known as Zampell Refractories, Zampell Insulation as well the facilities management arm are now merged under one name, Zampell.
The goal of this merger is to match the mentality of the company with the branding of the company and to alert customers to all the skills and services that Zampell has to offer. Brian hopes to continue in his father’s and grandfather’s tradition by continuing to lead and grow all areas of the company within the principles that have made the company successful to this day.
The branding and operational consolidation of Zampell focuses on emphasizing its core talents and bringing to light the variety of other services that it can provide, which includes a tremendous list. The Zampell Family of Companies will always focus on customer service, hard work, craftsmanship, safety, and respect to all people who interact with the company. These principles will be the core of Zampell growth and solidify the Zampell reputation for excellence for many years to come.