Vulcan Refractories LTD., Zampell affiliate, celebrates 50 years!

NEWBURYPORT, MA, USA – September 11, 2019 – Vulcan Refractories Ltd. of Cheadle, Stoke-on-Trent, England, a Zampell affiliate, proudly celebrates fifty years of being in business this year!  Founded in 1969, the company has a long tradition and history of providing a high quality refractory materials for various industries and, more importantly, providing a family environment for its generations of employees.

Brian Zampell, President and CEO of Zampell, remarked, “Not many companies are lucky enough to successfully continue operations for fifty years, and statistically its truly an anomaly.  Vulcan and its employees are unique and should be extremely proud of this special achievement.  It’s a testament to resiliency of a family company and that it’s truly most important to build an environment that empowers people to continue success beyond short term goals.  I feel lucky to be a part of it.”

Vulcan Refractories Ltd. was founded by Michael Zienkowicz, a Ukrainian immigrant to the UK who served in the Second World War for the British and the USA.  He escaped to the UK as a refugee after his family was killed by the Ukrainian war with the Soviet Union and the Great Terror that followed.  Similarly to Tom Zampell, he served in the military in Italy, and Michael served as an interpreter.  Tom Zampell served as a radio gunner for the United States Army Air Force on primarily B-25 Marauder aircraft.  At its founding, Vulcan Refractories mainly served as a monolithic refractory provider and a manufacturer of precast refractory shapes.  Michael purchased the site in Cheadle, still occupied by Vulcan Refractories today, in order to build the first elements of his factory.  Michael oversaw the physical expansion of the facility into the footprint it encompasses today and the growth of the company until his passing in 1989.

When Michael Zienkowicz’s son, Nick Zienkowicz, joined Vulcan Refractories, he had a vision to transform the company with the introduction of nitride bonded silicon carbide shapes into the production line.  Nick quickly embraced his role in the company and embraced his opportunity to grow the company by leading sales of the new product line across Europe and beyond, stretching into the USA, the Far East, and beyond.  This growth and expansion allowed Vulcan Refractories to expand into multiple markets, especially focused on the aluminum industry.

In 2010, sadly, Nick Zienkowicz passed away from a brief illness.  Prior to his passing, he had the foresight to steer the business into the waste-to-energy tile market and in the process he developed a business relationship with Brian Zampell and Zampell USA.  During his brief illness he expressed to the trustees of his estate his interest in keeping Vulcan Refractories a family company, and hoped that they would successfully sell the business to Zampell.  Zampell saw so many similarities in culture and heritage between the two companies, so it ultimately decided to acquire Vulcan along Nick’s wishes, which was successfully completed in 2011.  As a part of the acquisition, Zampell also gained Gary Dukes, who now serves as not only the Managing Director of Vulcan Refractories, but also all of Zampell Europe.

“When Zampell acquired Vulcan, Jim Zampell told me two things: ‘Take care of the people and make Vulcan a state of the art refractory company.’ I took this to heart and, with the assistance of everyone at Vulcan, we transformed the business for the future with Zampell’s support,” reflected Gary Dukes.

Vulcan has been marked by success for the past several years under Gary’s leadership and Zampell’s ownership.  The factory was completed rebuilt as a state-of-the-art facility in 2013 and, in 2017, Vulcan Refractories was recognized by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) with its prestigious Workforce Involvement in Health and Safety (WISH) award, highlighted a formal reception at Buckingham Palace and an awards banquet in London.  Vulcan is also the first ceramics company to achieve ISO 45001 in the UK.

The fiftieth anniversary was celebrated on August 30 and 31, and was marked by meetings with all the Vulcan employees and a celebration with all the Vulcan employees, spouses, and children.  Many Zampell employees from the UK, USA, and Denmark also joined in the festivities.  Jim Zampell, Chairman of Zampell, spoke on the milestone by saying, “I would like congratulate everyone at Vulcan on their great achievement and ongoing success.  We’re thankful to have the Vulcan employees as a part of the Zampell family.”

Zampell is a family business that is chiefly involved with the engineering and construction of refractories, insulation, and scaffolding within the industrial and commercial sectors, and facilities management in all sectors. It was established in 1966 by Tom Zampell and continues to grow due to its core value of quality craftsmanship. Zampell is headquartered in Massachusetts and has branch offices in Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Oregon, California, and Kentucky. Zampell also has a subsidiary, Zampell A/S, with locations in Jutland and Sjælland in Denmark, and subsidiaries Zampell Ltd. and Vulcan Refractories, Ltd. in England. It also operates a janitorial products company, Custodial Partners, in Massachusetts, ZAR-Tech, a refractories distribution company with locations in Massachusetts and New York, and Western Industrial Ceramics, a refractories distribution and fabrication company in Oregon and California.  Zampell also has a collaboration agreement with New England Mechanical Overlay in the USA to provide steel fabrication and pressure vessel repair services.  For more information on the Zampell family of companies, please visit their website at  For more information about NEMO, please visit