- Written by Scott Whipple, New Britain Herald Staff writer.
EAST BERLIN — Last Thursday, the only warship in the U.S. Navy with the motto “Never Forget” emblazoned on her bridge deck, sailed from New York City. It was headed for Atlantic Fleet headquarters in Norfolk, Va. and full-time duty with the U.S. Navy fleet.
The bow stem of the amphibious transport dock ship built by Northrop-Grumman and designed to transport Marines and their equipment contained 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center. The ship had been named in honor of the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At eight years and thousands of man-hours in the making, the USS New York, sliced through the waters of New York Harbor to the open sea. To provide clean laundry for the ship’s crew, the main laundry onboard the USS New York features modular washer-extractors from EDRO Corp.’s line of U.S. Navy approved surface warship models. These modular designed units have been built for ease of access. The main laundry wash aisle can provide clean laundry for the entire ship’s crew and passengers.
EDRO is “the little East Berlin manufacturer that could.” It has been the U.S. Navy’s prime supplier of washer-extractors and tumbler dryers for laundries on surface warship and submarine fleets for several years. “It’s quite a story,” said EDRO President Edward Kirejczyk III. “In the early ’70s my dad and Roman [Galinski] got our machines onto ships because of their unique design and compact size for a highcapacity washer. Over the years, we’ve been able to outmaneuver our competitors and get the U.S. Navy shipboard business.” According to the Web site, http://www.governmentcontractswon.com/., from 2000 to 2008 EDRO was awarded 66 defense contracts for a total $2,394,272. In 2006, EDRO purchased a tumble-dryer company in Kentucky which enabled the company to become the prime supplier for the U.S. Navy.
Though Kirejczyk said EDRO had been solicited to move out of Connecticut, his father, Edward Jr., a New Britain native, loved central Connecticut and wanted to keep the company in the state. Edward Kirejczyk Jr. who died Oct. 23 had been chairman of the board of EDRO.
“My parents recalled what New Britain used to be like when it was the hardware city,” EDRO’s current president said. In a sense, Kirejczyk is continuing the tradition. Since 2005 EDRO has also been the sole supplier for the Navy’s submarine washer extractors and tumbler dryers, making smaller machines for the underwater vessels. Edward Kirejczyk III, who has been managing the company since 2004, is a graduate of the Boston University School of Management. Most of the manufacturing and assembly is done in East Berlin. The familyowned company does between $10 million and $20 million a year in sales with less than 50 employees. EDRO admits to a contract with a company in China that builds certain machine parts. “The process is cheaper there,” Kirejczyk explained. “But, all our government work is done here.”
A key to EDRO’s success is the modular design of its machines; they can be disassembled and broken down into component parts and moved through a ship without having to cut an access hole in the hull. Kirejczyk said that like most Navy people his thoughts this past week were on the USS New York. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a Louisiana foundry, then poured into molds Sept. 9, 2003. Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing who was there that day recalled, “It was a spiritual moment for everybody.” The foundry operations manager said that when the Trade Center steel first arrived he touched it with his hand and the hair on his neck stood up. “It had a meaning to it for all of us,” he said. “They knocked us down; they can’t keep us down. We’re going to be back.” Though some might downplay EDRO’s contribution to the USS New York, Kirejczyk isn’t one of them. “It’s a high profile ship,” he said. “It builds good morale to wear clean clothes. Look at the sailors when they come into port. We’re proud knowing they’re using our machines to clean their uniforms.”
Reprinted courtesy of New Britain Herald
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