Based in the Tacony section of Philadelphia, DeVal has a rich and extensive history of serving our local community. Now, as a SBA certified HUBZone firm, we look forward to continuing to build our community and beyond.
CHARLES A. RUSSO
Charles A. Russo (known to everyone as Chick) was the original founder of DeVal Lifecycle Support. Chick's parents immigrated to Chicago, Illinois from Calabria, Italy in 1910. Chick, his four brothers and one sister relocated to the Tacony section of Philadelphia after their father was immediately fired from his job at the railroad working as a steam boiler operator after losing his leg in a work related accident. Chick's father supported his family after relocating by shining shoes and selling pretzels outside of a school. As a result, Chick started working at an early age, and inheriting his father's entrepreneurial spirit, he learned to be a machinist and supplemented his income by boxing and playing the trumpet in a local orchestra. He joined the Navy to support the war effort for WWII.
AFTER THE WAR
After returning from the Navy as a newly married man in 1947, Chick started machining parts for local companies in the ground-floor garage of his row home in Philadelphia. As his business grew, all four of the Russo brothers eventually joined Chick and he purchased a small building in order to obtain additional machines for his growing business. In the early 1950’s, Chick sold the business he built up to his brothers, which became know as DeRuss Machine.
With the money from the sale of his business, Chick purchased the building at 7341 Tulip Street in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia where his parents lived. Every dollar he made was put back into the business to purchase a new machine or develop a new venture. From his meager beginning as a machine operator, he developed his machining company into performing sandblasting, welding, press brake fabrication, painting, assembly, forgings and centrifugal castings.
Charles A. Russo originally named his company in 1952 CARCO Industries after his initials, the name was changed April 12, 1962 to DeVal Aerodynamics. The name DeVal was a tribute to the Delaware Valley, the company’s home base. The company officially became DeVal Corporation in approximately 1965.
“Do not give any man a task that you could not do yourself.”
- DeVal's founder Charles A. Russo's Leadership Philosophy
THROUGH THE YEARS
DeVal operated with a diverse capacity and skillset among its employees with a complex forge shop with over 20 employees by the 1960s. Some would operate the furnaces, while others would manipulate the punch presses or the dangerous forge hammers. Operating the forge hammers required strength, and courage as well as talent for timing of the blows. This was by far the most dangerous position in the whole plant.
Nonetheless all four of his eldest sons were accomplished hammer operators. His sons learned the other aspects of the company such as machining, welding, press and shear operations and overhauling. Chick passed away at the early age of 56 in 1966 and left his six sons a legacy that continues today.
CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP
Chick's son's Tony and Frank took over ownership of the company after Chick's untimely death. During this time, Dominic Durinzi, Sr. worked for the brother's as a forging engineer and designer as well as a master machinist and trainer. The company’s first growth came about when the company obtained substantial subcontracts from Yale & Towne for machined parts and forgings for their forklifts.
In the 1960s the firm began supplying parts to Chrysler Tank Division for machined parts involving weldments such as the Turret Platforms for tanks, which were formed and welded at DeVal, DeLaval Turbine (large machined rings), and Westinghouse Electric for centrifugal castings, to mention but a few.
In the mid-1960s, Dominic Durinzi, Jr. began working at DeVal part-time while in high school and college. Durinzi, Jr. had been coming to the shop to visit his father starting at age 8 and had learned the craftsmanship from his father.
A 1974 graduate of Penn State University, he joined the company full-time following college, starting as Director of Engineering. He was promoted to Director of Quality Control and Engineering in 1980 and became Director of Contracts and Marketing. In 1989, he and two other employees purchased the company from Frank Russo, and Durinzi took over as president of the company.
BEGIN WORKING WITH THE NAVY
In 1980, DeVal began remanufacturing Navy support equipment. This segment of the business continued to grow, and a major breakthrough came in 1981 when DeVal secured a remanufacturing contract for all the weapons-related equipment aboard Navy aircraft carriers. “We remanufactured anything that involved armament, including all weapons supports systems.
There were probably fifty different items,” comments Durinzi. “At this point, the company really broke out,” Durinzi explains. “The business boomed during the ‘80’s and we had 400 employees working out of a 150,000 square foot facility. Annual revenues reached $20 million plus. We were working around the clock on several projects to get the equipment out to sea in record times.
In 2017, Sam Thevanayagam, founder and president of Parts Life, Inc., purchased DeVal Corporation from Dominic Durinzi, Jr. and rebranded as DeVal Lifecycle Support.
Deval Lifecycle Support currently operates from a 40,000 square foot facility that includes three buildings and storage yard at 7341 Tulip Street in Philadelphia. Equipment in the facility includes everything from vintage, 1940s era tool making equipment to the very latest, state-of-the-art robotic welders and computer-controlled machining centers. Under the leadership of Sam Thevanayagam, with the same fore-sight for continued excellence, innovative spirit, and support of the fleet with continual growth to produce new jobs. Dominic Durinzi, Jr. continues to to work for the company as Senior Vice President of Engineering, while mentoring and teaching the new DeVal generation about manufacturing and engineering.