PEI Company History
PEI was founded in 1968 in Holliston, MA. Several local engineers decided to create a company to service the fast-growing electronics and computer peripheral industry developing in and around the Boston area. PEI’s innovative process, called "photochemical machining," was the perfect manufacturing method to produce metal parts quickly and inexpensively to satisfy the needs of companies developing new products. Once a phototool is created (which is done in-house), the image is transferred to sheets of material coated with a UV-sensitive photo resist; various chemistries are then used to remove metal selectively, creating burr-free, stress-free metal parts to specific dimensions and tolerances.
William (Bill) Lehrer, one of the initial investors and engineers who started PEI, became president of the company in 1978. Mr. Lehrer came to PEI with many years of experience in the manufacturing sector at such well-known companies as Honeywell, Raytheon, and Cambridge Memories. Mr. Lehrer graduated from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Metallurgical Engineering. He also has an MBA from Northeastern University. With Mr. Lehrer’s unique background he was the right choice to lead PEI into its current position as the world leader in photochemical machining. In 2011 Chip Lehrer, Bill’s son, succeeded him as president of the company.
PEI's close proximity to Rhode Island (also known as the jewelry capital of the world) allowed the firm to expand into decorative pieces such as jewelry findings, cuffs, picture frames, ornaments, bookmarks and other collectibles. The photochemical process lent itself perfectly to an industry looking for very intricate details at a much lower cost than traditional manufacturing methods which rely on casting, stamping or even laser engraving.
By 1984, PEI had outgrown its facility in Holliston, and built a 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility dedicated solely to the etching process in Milford, MA, making us the largest photo etching company under one roof in the world. PEI was the first photochemical etching company to isolate acids from iron and copper alloys, allowing the regeneration of all of its acids for maximum uniformity of etching, controllability, predictability and environmental friendliness. This innovation also eliminates downtime for unloading and reloading of etchant. All of this translates into a better product at better prices for all PEI customers.
For many years, PEI has created custom flat, 2-D and 3-D decorative ornaments for such well-known companies as Anheuser Busch and the Danbury Mint as well as non-profit organizations including Easter Seals, the Florida Governor's Mansion, MIT Sloan School and Tabor Academy. PEI has developed a series of programs using direct mail and email to help non-profits raise revenue for their organizations by using custom keepsakes and commemoratives. PEI also offers assistance with marketing, design, and fulfillment. Each program has allowed the non-profit to generate a new revenue stream that it can rely on year after year. PEI is fortunate to have hundreds of customers who look forward to the New Year and their new ornament or bookmark, or other keepsake.
We stand behind our products and our services, but you don’t just have to take our word for it: our plating and finishing standards meet or exceed the standards of the U.S. Department of Commerce, national and international jeweler associations, and the Better Business Bureau. Customer testimonials also illustrate how small programs starting with as few as 250 pieces have now grown into 10,000 piece annual programs.
PEI was one of the first companies to initiate an Environmental Management System (EMS), and was named a “Cleaner Technology Demonstration Site” by the state of Massachusetts and has also gained us recognition from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute.
Although we pride ourselves on our innovative engineering, design, quality control and manufacturing methods, we are driven by customer satisfaction and productivity. Your organization can become a part of this tradition. We look forward to discussing your ideas and making them a reality.