In 1914 my uncle Steven Dodulik, the youngest of three
brothers, left Czechoslovakia and traveled alone to Chicago, where his
sister, Anna, was living. His parents sent him there because they sensed that
WWI was coming and didnít want their son to fight in the Austrian army.
At the age of fourteen, Steven had no particular skills and made his living
simply peddling wares. He moved to Milwaukee in 1916 and although he had no
experience, started the Milwaukee Wire Frame Company, making wrought iron lamps
and lampshades. During this time, Steven accumulated enough money to send for
Louis, the second oldest brother and later, my father Paul, the oldest brother.
Like Steven, they both started out with their sister in Chicago.
And like Steven, they later moved to Milwaukee and started a wire
business, Economy Metal and Wire Products Company, in 1932.
In the meantime, they all married but only my father, Paul,
had children. While I was in high school, in the late 1940ís, from time to
time I worked for my father but had no intention of going into his business.
When my father had a small heart attack, he decided to retire and wanted to know
if I wanted his share of the business.
After WWII people were less
enamored of handmade
metal work and I considered the ways
of both the Milwaukee Wire Frame Company and Economy Metal and Wire Products
Company too old fashioned. Power
equipment had just been introduced and I was only interested in taking over
their businesses if I could make some changes, if I could modernize.
So I merged the two companies, incorporated in 1966 and
changed the name to Dodco, thereby honoring all three brothers and keeping the
family name in the business.
Eventually I had my
own family: 3 boys and 3 girls and in 1974 purchased all the existing shares
from relatives. Now, after my own bypass surgery in 1991, although I still have
a minority share, my sons Paul and Steven, run Dodco.
My other son, Louis, is the legal counsel.
Author: Louis J. Dodulik
What we do:
Aluminum Hangers: When the defense work dried up
after WW2 there was lots of aluminum available to purchase but not a lot to do
with it. Steve, my uncle, wanted to fashion a hanger out of aluminum that looked
like the classic hanger you get from the dry cleaner, only heavier.
Today, the shape remains almost identical to the one he designed.
Originally, Alcoa, the aluminum people, ordered hangers to
sell in their company stores. At
that time we had 5 colors and we sold at least 1 million hangers just through
them. Today we have 10 colors and sell them to church groups, gift shops,
hospitals and retailers across the country.