Mention manufacturing in Connecticut and thoughts often turn to large defense contractors like Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat, and Sikorsky.
But when 50 companies from 50 states gather Oct. 5 at the White House for the annual Made in America showcase, a small, family-owned manufacturer from Bridgeport will represent Connecticut.
Beverlee Fatse Dacey, CEO of Amodex Products, and her son Alexander, the company’s director of sales and marketing, will travel to Washington D.C., to highlight Amodex Ink & Stain Remover, a product Consumer Reports calls a “must have” for every American household.
“I think it’s just awesome,” Beverlee Dacey said one week before their trip. “I was knocked out when we got the invitation.”
Although you may not have heard of Amodex’s stain removers, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey have—and both recommend them.
“It’s great exposure for us, but it also highlights the importance of American manufacturing,” Beverlee Dacey said. “Really, it’s for all the small manufacturers in Connecticut—an incentive for all of us to persevere.”
Dacey runs Amodex with her two sets of twins, Alexander and Peter, 34, and Nicolas and Marica, 31.
The company’s story began in 1958 when Dacey’s father, Peter Fatse, a printer, created a soap-based product to remove the ink from his hands after long days of printing.
Once he discovered his invention also removed stains from fabrics, Amodex Hand Cleaner became Amodex Stain Remover for Hands & Fabrics in the early 1970s.
By the early 1990s, it was known as the top stain remover for all inks, including Sharpie and Marks-a-Lot, and was rebranded Amodex Ink & Stain Remover.
While her father, an immigrant, made the product, Dacey’s mother, Silvia Fatse, marketed it.
Dacey was a college administrator when she and her late husband Gowan Dacey moved back to Connecticut so her children could be closer to family, including her parents.
She took over the business when her father became ill in 2005 and her mother died unexpectedly that spring.
But with the help of her family and her own perseverance, Dacey grew the company and, in 2015, moved to a larger facility—an old police building—while remaining in Bridgeport.
Dacey said that CBIA affiliate CONNSTEP was instrumental in the move.
“CONNSTEP provided tremendous assistance with our plant redesign—particularly the formatting space," she said.
“They guided us in designing the strategic plan, incorporating Lean in our production facility and, after my husband’s unexpected passing, has been working with us on shifting responsibilities and functions to accommodate his absence.”
Dacey described CONNSTEP as “a pivotal partner” in Amodex’s growth strategies—“the GPS that keeps us out of traffic and on the steady road ahead.”
When she and Alex go to the White House on Oct. 5, Dacey said her parents will be with them in spirit.
“My Dad was an immigrant and a World War II vet,” she said.
“The war changed those young men into real men and when they came out, they were motivated to do something with their lives.
“I think my father would have said, ‘I’m not surprised but I’m extremely humbled.’
“It would have reassured him that all the sacrifices he made for this country—and the realization that ingenuity is so much a part of America—were worth it.”
Dacey said she views the invitation as recognition of a successful small manufacturer, not necessarily as a woman in manufacturing.
“It’s more about competence than gender,” she said. “I think in the 21st Century, no one really thinks about that—it’s about how much passion you have for your work.”
Dacey does admit that when it comes to manufacturing, women may have an advantage.
“Manufacturing is tough stuff because there are so many layers to it, but women are good at multitasking, so we’re naturals at manufacturing,” she said.
“Working and juggling things—we just do it.”