ColorKam is Kampel Enterprises, Inc.’s (KEI) new online retailer for its kitchen and bath products. Standard and custom colored sealant and adhesive products are sold here which are designed to fill seams, voids and various other needs in your home or on the job.
In the early 1940’s Lawrence J. Kampel Sr. and Florence M. Kampel built and sold countertops in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In order to be closer to their family and after the loss of their eldest son Edward who died in World War II, the two entrepreneurs moved to the rural town of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. Their younger son Lawrence Kampel Jr., who also served in WWII but was still living, also moved to Dillsburg with them and together they formed a business called “L.J. & F.M. Kampel and Son.” Only employing one additional person, the company existed in this modest state until the end of the decade.
In the late 1940’s LJK Jr. decided to work with a chemist to create a laminate repair product that could fix damages in laminate and fill seams between laminate sheets on countertops. Kamifil was the resulting product and it was inspired by LJK Jr.’s experience with paints he had used on airplanes during WWII while serving as an aircraft mechanic. Kamifil was a colored paste that could match any countertop and was the first product to be used specifically for its intended purposes.
Still making countertops and producing Kamifil, the business became incorporated as Kampel Enterprises, Inc. (KEI) in 1954. Around the time of the company’s incorporation LJK Jr. became the owner and president of KEI. The Kamifil program was sold to Formica laminate brand in the late 1950’s and the product was renamed SeamFil. Shortly after program was bought by Formica they resold the program back to KEI and LJK Jr. trademarked the product as SeamFil in 1959. LJK Jr. then began marketing SeamFil to a broader audience and sold it around the US through distributors. SeamFil sales became strong enough in the mid 1960’s that cabinets no longer needed to be made by the company.
LJK Jr.’s interest in aviation led to the creation of another business endeavor called Kampel Aviation which was an airframe and engine repair facility located in New Kingston, PA in the early 1960’s. In 1965 KEI purchased a larger plot of land for the company in Wellsville, PA which would include a runway and hangar. Eventually an aircraft store was created, a woodshop was built and a staff of mechanics were employed to restore and maintain airplanes. LJK’s passion for aviation had become a stable revenue generating source for KEI and also allowed his son, Tom Kampel to realize and pursue his common love of aviation.
In the 1960’s LJK Jr. developed an interest in machine work and decided to enroll in trade school to learn machining. Purchasing some equipment for the company, LJK Jr. began doing small-scale machine work for local businesses. Bill Myers, the owner of a small sheet metal fabrication shop called Myers Sheetmetal in York, PA was eventually connected to LJK Jr. in the early 1970’s through a military contract. LJK Jr. saw an opportunity to grow Myers Sheetmetal into a stronger business and the ability for added machining capabilities to support the aviation division. LJK Jr. purchased Myers Sheetmetal from Bill Myers in 1976 and retained its original name.
Upon the purchase of Myers Sheetmetal, Tom Kampel became the manager while it still existed at its original location in York, PA. In 1980 Myers Sheetmetal relocated to KEI’s facility in Wellsville which increased the size and scope of its manufacturing processes. With both machining and sheet metal fabrication capabilities the business gained the ability to expand and increase its market share. By the late 1980’s Myers Sheetmetal had grown and was manufacturing products for various industries in South Central Pennsylvania.
Realizing that SeamFil may have a limited lifespan and to diversify the company LJK Jr., Tom Kampel and LJK Jr.’s other son, Dave Kampel, created a custom colored caulking product. Their idea was to sell this product to the Kitchen & Bath market via existing SeamFil distributors. The end result was a product called ColorFlex which was trademarked in 1987.
In the 1990’s Tom Kampel purchased the company from his father and became acting President and CEO of KEI. He attended trade shows and developed a network of sales representatives to stimulate ColorFlex sales around the US. These efforts proved to be successful, allowing the company to continue growing and eventually leading to the creation of ColorFlex II which was a glossy adhesive variant of ColorFlex.
KEI is a stable and healthy business as it enters its 4th generation of family ownership. Over the years Myers Sheetmetal and the Kitchen & Bath division have provided the company with diversity which has helped sustain its long-term success. Although aircraft restoration has ended, the airstrip remains open to public and is regularly used by Tom Kampel and other local pilots.