Steel Fabricators, Inc., a sheet and plate metal
fabrication shop, opened for business in 1969, in
the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, New York.
It was founded by four steel industry workers; Herman
Kula, Frank Azarenok, Joe Ferrara and Dan Doyle.
For Doyle, the little shop on Barretto Street was
the fulfillment of a five-year quest to go into
business for himself.
A core of existing customers was
the mainstay of the company at first, but within
a few months the partners received a breakthrough
large order. It was for the supporting fabricated
framework of a conveyor system to be installed in
a U.S. Post Office converting to automated equipment.
The $200,000 order was due, in periodic trailer
loads, within 90 days. With half the fledgling companys
work force on night shifts and Kula and Doyle
working nights themselves the shop worked
around the clock and loaded the last trailer on
the 90th night. Brakewell, named for the press
brake which bends metal, proved that an obscure
fabricating shop of little more then a dozen men
could compete with large, established companies.
Slow but steady was the pace at
Brakewell Steel for the next few years. In 1974,
Joe Ferrara retired. One year later, the threat
of an industry wide strike prompted Doyle to search
for alternate plant facilities. He found the ideal
building in the Chester Industrial Park in Orange
County, but the price of the property was prohibitive.
Every few months, Doyle would travel from the shops
cramped, inner city quarters to the pastoral expanses
of the mid-Hudson region and the sprawling Chester
factory. Each time Doyle expressed interest in the
facility, the owner would obligingly reduce the
asking price. After 3 years, the terms were finally
within Brakewells reach. In January 1978,
with six of the companys 45 workers transplanted
from the Bronx, the Chester operation began.
For a decade, the Bronx shop and
Chester plant operated simultaneously, with bulkier
jobs being manufactured at the Orange County location.
Eventually, though the shop on Barretto Street became
less profitable. In 1988 operations in the Bronx
were curtailed; in 1989, they ceased altogether,
and Brakewells manufacturing operations consolidated
at the Chester plant.