Company Relocates — Keeps Jobs in New Bedford

New Bedford Manufacturer Marks Move to Former Arlan’s Store Building
By Joe Cohen, Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — A 30-employee company that manufactures exhaust systems for motor vehicles marked its move to its new 30,000-square-foot home on Brook Street Thursday.
Davico Manufacturing, which was started in the city in 1987 and now is a $5-million-a-year business, has relocated all of its operations to a building at 95 Brook St. that at one time housed Arlan’s Department Store and later was used by Cliftex Mills.
Raymond P. Surprenant, owner and president, said he purchased Davico from a relative in 2001, tripled its sales and employees since then and now plans to double its size again during the next five years.
In addressing the company’s growth and need to move from former quarters on Church Street where it had operated for 18 years, Mr. Surprenant said he considered a range of locations, including other states. He decided keeping his trained work force was key and he narrowed his search to a 20-mile radius of New Bedford.
As the process continued, Mr. Surprenant said, the New Bedford Economic Development Council and Executive Director Matthew A. Morrissey, along with a Massachusetts work force training program, convinced him to stay in New Bedford.
On Thursday, Davico conducted an open house to mark its move to Brook Street, where it has been operating for a month.
Bill Smith, operations manager, said Davico competes against much larger manufacturers of custom-fit exhaust pipe systems with attached catalytic converters.
The company succeeds in part because of two niches: sales for limited production vehicles such as Land Rover and Porsche, and being first to market with replacement systems for more common vehicles. It sells only to distributors.
Mr. Smith said Davico can custom-make a single unit and rarely makes more than a small number of units, with 50 being a large order for a single model.
Davico employs “lean” or “just-in-time” manufacturing to minimize material on hand, storage and waste, then ships out finished product quickly so overhead costs are kept low, Mr. Smith said.
Davico is able to make exhaust systems for 1,200 models of cars and trucks.
Mr. Surprenant said motorists are keeping cars longer because of the difficult economy, and that is a positive for Davico’s business in providing replacement parts.
Contact Joe Cohen at
May 23, 2008
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