Duval’s precision grinding history first begins in 1946 with a single grinding machine and one precision grinder. That grinder was Gerard Duval, fondly known to customers, family, and friends as “Gerry.”
Customers who have been with Duval Precision Grinding (DPG) long enough will remember Gerry and the way he shaped DPG into one of the leading high-quality precision grinding companies in the Northeast. For those just entering the Duval story, here is a look back at our company history.
Grinding from the Garage: Duval’s Humble Beginnings
Gerry Duval began his career in 1941 at the Colt Firearms manufacturing facility in Connecticut, where he developed his precision grinding skills. After WWII, Gerry moved back to Massachusetts and began working at the Rita Manufacturing facility, where he served as the only precision grinder. His work was focused primarily on the aviation industry—a specialty that would eventually become the foundation of DPG’s expertise in precision grinding for the aerospace industry.
In 1946, Gerry Duval purchased his own Brown & Sharpe Universal Precision Grinder—a surplus machine from the war—and began completing precision grinding jobs in the garage behind his apartment.
Dedication to Quality Garners Success
With Gerry’s grinding talent and dedication to quality, it wasn’t long before his grinding business had outgrown the garage.
In 1959, Gerry Duval bought out a machine shop in Springfield and moved production to the small, third-floor space. Ron, Gerry’s sixth child (out of twelve), joined him in running the fledgling precision grinding operation. In working together, Ron and Gerry grew close, and their mutual commitment to excellence allowed Duval Precision Grinding to expand until they had no choice but to move operations to an even larger facility in Chicopee.
DPG stood apart from other grinding operations at the time. A long-term Duval customer said, “One thing I can say [about Gerry]—he never scrapped a part. He was a world-class precision grinder.” Duval’s highest priority has always been quality. Gerry emphasized that their precision grinding services must be an asset to the customer. The father and son had a motto:
“Do whatever it takes to return a good part!”
By 1982, thanks to a reputation for excellence, business at Duval Precision Grinding had finally outpaced Ron and Gerry’s ability to keep up on their own. Ron convinced his father to start hiring other employees and took responsibility for managing them.
Although he had initially been reluctant to bring on new staff, Gerry expressed an interest in each employee and was committed to making sure there was enough work to sustain them. He was often described as being very patient and knowledgeable; he would take the time to provide on-the-job training whenever necessary. The tight family bond that Gerry and Ron shared was readily extended to all of Duval’s employees.
Precision Grinding History: Continuing the Legacy
When Gerry retired and eventually passed away, Ron purchased the family business. Under Ron Duval’s experienced leadership, the company continued to grow. In 1990, Ron Duval built a larger facility in Chicopee at the Westover Industrial Park that could house new, advanced machinery and an expanded workforce.
Duval Precision Grinding has always had a singular focus on quality. The highest priority at DPG is to return an exceptional product to the customer in order to become an asset to their business. Duval’s reputation for excellence has brought some truly challenging part orders to their door, including work for NASA. In early 2000, twelve years before Ron Duval retired, the Department of Defense commissioned him to share his experience with several precision grinding facilities owned and operated by the United States military.
From the beginning, Gerry Duval and his son Ron valued discipline and excellence in service. Their hard work and dedication fostered a company culture of continuous improvement that still resonates with the precision grinders at Duval today. The team at Duval is more than ready to do whatever it takes to return a good part!