A Chat With Harvey Dean, president/CEO, Pitsco
CS: What were the kits, exactly?
Dean: Well, probably the kit that lasted the longest was a wood lamination kit. It was a process where students could actually laminate thin pieces of veneer and make something out of it, for example, salad forks and spoons. We were showing the students how beams in churches had been built using laminated wood. Then we had one or two on mass production where there were management and labor components. The kids would actually set up a production line and use fixtures to mass produce 40 products. Then they’d set up a little company and actually sell the products. It was more of a junior achievement class as you’d think of it now.
Then we had a kit using silicone rubber molds. Back then there was a lot of casting, in terms of metallurgy. That was the early stages of casting plastics into room temperature vulcanized silicone molds, RTV molds. Those were the sort of things we were doing initially.
We put those first four kits together, and they became fairly successful. We didn’t sell tons of them, but that’s what we started out with. We were all still teaching, so we’d work nights and weekends. One of the guys had a pretty good-sized garage, so that became our factory. One of the guys eventually sold us his part of the company, leaving just two of us for a few years. I bailed out of education in 1975 and then bought out the remaining guy, although I didn’t have any money. I was borrowing money from anyone I could get it from. I had an uncle who loaned me some money. Then my wife and I hired a part-time college kid to help us out. That first year on our own we had sales of $138,000. I remember that. And we made a profit. That was the beginning. It’s evolved from there.