from garage to gateway: the first quonset business park small business tenant shares their story

in 1976 Raul Dias had a vision. With $550 of oak boards in his driveway, Dias saw an opportunity to create point of purchase displays to capitalize on the thriving Rhode Island jewelry industry. WIthin 2 years of quickly outgrowing the garage, Dias moved his company Custom Design, Inc. to his first facilty on Farmington Ave in Silver Lake. Over the next two decades, Custom Design worked on diversifying its customer base to continue their growth, even during the eventual decline of the jewelry industry.

In 1996, a unique opportunity presented itself to Dias. The former Quonset Military Base,then home to large corporations Electric Boat and Norad, was looking to expand as a business park. Dias worked closely with late Senator Chafee and the Quonset Naval Commander to officially move his company to Quonset. When asked why Dias moved his growing company to an undeveloped business park, he claims “I’m an old fool with foresight”. Dias clearly saw the benefits of being in Quonset long before it became the thriving community it is today.

Over a decade later, Custom Design is still designing, building and manufacturing 100% of their products in their Quonset facility, in spite of the lower cost of outsourcing these services overseas. Dias believes in keeping all of their manufacturing local to support his nearly 100 employees which he refers to as his family. He is completely committed to Quonset Business Park and looks towards future growth in his current location. With clients now local, national and international in scope, Dias has embraced the “foresight” he envisioned when moving to Quonset.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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