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PALMA'S HISTORY

Palma Tool & Die Company 1962-2018

Founder: Tony Palma (photo taken approx 1944)

In business more than fifty years,  Palma Tool has grown to become an industry leader in high precision tool & die.  The company's humble beginnings started in the basement workshop of it's founder, Tony Palma, a Westinghouse tool maker.  He bought a mill and a lathe from his employer, Westinghouse, with the intention of pursuing a hobby of his, gun-smithing.

In the 1950's and 60's most gas stations sold tires, and Tony was asked if he could make components for the racks that held these tires.  That was the start of his business dream.  The year was 1962.  His two machines were  disassembled and moved from his basement workshop and  re-assembled at their new "business location" on Goodrich Street, in downtown Buffalo. A second move later that year brought the company to 35 Roetzer Street on Buffalo's east side.

In 1963, Tony hired his first apprentice, Bill Tate, fresh out of high school.  Palma Tool became then and remains today a teaching business.  Tony Palma had a great deal of knowledge and skill in the trade and  was anxious to share it with his employees, "his boys", many of which developed into outstanding tool & die makers.  With that teaching philosophy his reputation and business grew.

A third move in 1964, to Ashley Street, turned out to be the "home" of Palma Tool for the next 28 years.  The property was leased for three years, and then purchased in 1967.

As the business grew, so did the Palma employees in talent, ability and responsibility within the organization.  Bill Tate, that first apprentice was elevated to: a toolmaker, a tool designer and  then shop foreman.  Tom Owczarzak, another fresh out of high school apprentice who joined the company in 1972, steadily rose to a level of high regard among the tool makers.

Bill became Tony's very capable right hand man and eventually, in later years as Tony's health  deteriorated, Bill was promoted to general manager, taking over all day to day operations.  Tom followed Bill quickly up the corporate ladder so that by the time Tony Palma retired in 1985,  they had developed a strong organization with an exceptional management team.  Tony's dedication to attract and train new apprentices into the tool and die industry was credited with developing scores of talented journeymen, some of which remain at Palma Tool to this day.

Bill Tate bought the company in October of 1986 and Tom Owczarzak  was later named Executive Vice President, and eventually became Bill's partner in the business.  Tony's death, barely a year after his long deserved retirement, saddened everyone associated with Palma Tool, however, through his teachings and guidance he had established himself quite a living memorial, Palma Tool & Die, which continued to thrive.

Continuing in the teaching philosophy, in 1989 a need was seen for an apprenticeship program in the still emerging field of Wire EDM.  At the time one did not exist.  A curriculum for a Wire EDM Programmer/Operator was developed by Palma Tool and submitted to the state in November, 1989.   It was resoundingly approved and the first Palma Tool EDM apprentice, as well as the first EDM apprentice in the State of New York, graduated in January of 1991.

In 1992, thirty years after Palma Tool was established, another move occurred.  The company was rapidly outgrowing it's east side location.  A new building designed for Palma's specific needs was drawn up and construction completed on June 17, 1992.  This move would see a total of 58 machines, loaded on flatbeds lined up along the road, waiting to be put in place inside the new 17,000 square ft. building. We got the most important machines up and running on the first day of occupancy.

Palma Tool had grown rapidly after its' move to Lancaster and growing pains were soon  felt again.  An expansion of 6,400 feet for warehouse space was planned and constructed in the fall of 1994. 

After 50 years in business, we at Palma Tool recognize that the great strides made over the years were only possible because of one mans dream and the "teaching spirit" he instilled in his people.  Our business is capable of continuous improvement only in as  much as our employees can improve, both individually and as a team.  Many of the men and women who fill key supervisory positions or perform skilled trades and technical assignments began their Palma careers as hourly employees, sometimes only on a part-time basis.  Training, education, and opportunity has enabled them to progress and along with them our company.

Tony Palma would be very proud......

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