Industrial diamonds are this guy’s best friend.
Nick Viggiano, Continental Diamond Tool’s chief operating officer, on Tuesday said his biggest challenge these days is managing growth so the New Haven manufacturer doesn’t expand too quickly.
Continental plans to invest almost $3.8 million in a building expansion and new equipment. The project is also projected to create 47 full-time and seven part-time jobs over the next five years.
The investment includes $400,000 to build 7,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space that will be filled with $3.375 million in new machinery, including CNC – or computer-numerical controlled – lathes, mold presses and inspection equipment.
The expansion also will include 7,000 square feet of office space.
Continental, which employs 57, designs and makes diamond cutting and grinding products for the medical, oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and electronics industries. The privately held company doesn’t release annual sales figures.
The new positions will include 36 manufacturing positions, paying $35,000 on average. Five sales jobs being created will pay $50,000 on average. Two management positions will pay $75,000 on average. Four clerical jobs will pay $25,000 on average. And seven part-time janitorial jobs will pay about $9,000 on average.
Just 2 1/2 years ago, Continental invested about $2.5 million to add 20,000 square feet to its building at 1221 Hartzell St.
We thought that would last us awhile, Viggiano said. We had no idea we’d be filled up so quickly. It seems like the aerospace industry really had a big need for us.
The COO and minority owner declined for competitive reasons to specify how Continental’s diamond cutting and grinding tools are used by aerospace customers. He explained, however, that industrial diamonds are used to grind parts for engines that go into airplanes, gas turbines and other equipment.
It’s pretty neat stuff, he added.
Unlike their glamorous cousins bound for engagement rings, industrial diamonds are worth about 80 cents a carat, Viggiano said. A similar-sized, ring-ready diamond could easily sell for more than $1,000, depending on the quality.
And it’s not possible to cut the industrial-grade stones in a way that would make them worthy of mounting on jewelry, Viggiano said.
They’re not pretty at all, he said.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. And these homely diamonds have provided a living for the Viggiano family and employees since 1973, when Ray Viggiano, Nick’s father, moved from New York to New Haven to start the business.
Ray Viggiano lived in a small bedroom inside the factory as he built up the business. He met a local New Haven woman, married her and continues to work there in research and development, a job that suits his shy personality, Nick Viggiano said.
My dad’s dream was to have a steady paycheck, he said. He never dreamed it would turn into this.