Category Archives: Daman Events

Fall Family Fun Weekend


zoobooThe crisp autumn air, bright colored leaves and fall festivities are upon us.  Daman employees and their families celebrated the season together during a weekend packed with adventure.  What better time of year to have a chili cook-off?  Congrats to the chili cook-off winners!  First place was awarded to Liz Conley and second Place to Joe Malicki.

Following the cook-off, was a “chili”-ng scare at the #1 haunted attraction in Indiana.  Legend Park is one of the largest scream parks in America and offers five, very scary, award winning attractions.  Now, these sorts of things aren’t for everyone, just those who dare enter.  Forty-two brave souls were up for this fear-facing challenge.  Thankfully, they all survived!

As for the kids, they joined in the fun with a candy packed trick-or-treating trip to the Potawatomi Zoo Boo.  Monkeys, tigers, and leopards, oh my!  Fortunately, the zoo can tell the difference between a real monkey and a monkey suit.  All 50+ children made it through the zoo without incident.  As for the 49 adults who attended, they now have gobs of candy to hide from their sweet little, sugar laden it-bits.

Thanks to all who participated in the Fall Family Fun Weekend!


The Evolution of Daman – Part 2

A Cultural Conversion

home1997 was a year of tremendous change at Daman. Construction was beginning on their new 45,000+ square-foot headquarters and manufacturing plant in the 1800 block of Home Street. At the same time, knowing there was a drastic need to change the way they were doing business, the executive team took a giant leap of faith. They made the ultimate decision to embrace a concept inconceivable to them, known as LEAN, introduced to them by Doug Atkin of Crowe Chizek, Daman’s accounting firm. Little did they know that LEAN would be the catalyst to start a cultural conversion at Daman.

The pitch that Atkin made to the executive team sounded too good to be true. It promised improved throughput to the point of continuous flow, reduced chaos, improved quality and reduced cost. Supposedly, this could be accomplished by focusing on processes, technology and people. First, he recommended that Daman reduce inventory, finish work in progress, run fewer parts, and scariest of all…no more forecasting. It was the exact opposite of everything they learned in school and throughout their careers.

Eliminating Waste

In 1999, the Kanban inventory control system was implemented after Daman used up 60% of their inventory. The core of this system, developed by an industrial engineer at Toyota in the 40’s, involves identifying which steps in production add value and which do not. Many processes that were not formerly perceived as being wasteful are removed.The most common seven wasted resources identified are: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing, and defects.

IMG_5263Kanban is a scheduling system for just-in-time production that utilizes pull methodology. The way it works is that a small inventory of manifolds is kept in designated bins. When an order is placed, the item is pulled and the Kanban (red and blue) card is scanned. Once the bin is empty, an electronic signal is sent and the manifolds are scheduled for production. It is the rate of demand that controls the rate of production instead of forecasts which push too much product into the market.

By 2001, custom manifolds were added to the Kanban or Daman Trigger System. Daman determined that once programming, processing, tooling and fixturing were established, custom manifolds could be treated the same as standard products which allowed custom parts to be shipped within 24 hours.

Change in Leadership

Larry Davis and Dave Mischler had been leading the company effectively and consistently for many years, when in 1996 they were named Executive Vice President and Vice President, respectively. In 2003, Jack Davis officially named his son, Larry, president of Daman Products while Jack became the CEO. Larry and Dave went on to purchase the company from Jack when he retired in 2007.

Empowering Employees

A fundamental part of LEAN, Atkin told them, focuses on employees, empowering them to work autonomously, trusting them to make decisions and to eliminate waste whenever possible. The executive team thought that’s what they were doing when they decided to create independent, self-contained work stations called cells on the manufacturing floor that would be run by a team and have a team leader. Unfortunately, they didn’t ask for any input from the people on the shop floor who, in turn, had no idea how to run their newly created cells. This caused a lot of conflict between employees, cell teams and shifts. If it weren’t for the absolute commitment of the entire leadership team, the LEAN journey would have ended here.

When they realized their mistake, a teambuilding consultant was hired to help Daman learn to work as high-performance teams. This process took longer than anticipated. But, once the employees began to take control of their projects, there was a dramatic improvement in the commitment, energy, enthusiasm and pride of the entire staff.

Continuous Improvement

Bins in tableMany innovative improvements initiated by employees were being made throughout the shop. Tables used to move heavy manifolds that could be raised and lowered with the simple push of a button were built. Powered torque wrenches were counterbalanced and suspended at working height to eliminate repetitive shoulder injuries. Recessed bins were cut into table tops to keep things organized, reduce clutter and save space.

In 2008, Larry heard the familiar racket of concrete saws and jack hammers coming from the shop floor and went to investigate. Cell C was undergoing an organizational process, or 5S. They needed pneumatic lines and electricity moved deeper into their cell. The lines couldn’t go overhead, and they couldn’t lay on the floor because it made moving skids impossible. Their solution: trench the 12” thick concrete floor. It was at this moment that Larry knew Daman had reached a turning point. The level of ownership assumed by the employees and the obvious trust they felt that they could saw up the shop floor without fear was exciting and inspiring.

In 2010, the Creative Team, was formed to explore new ideas for product development. Made up of people from every department at Daman, they have learned to collaborate, inspire and work together effectively. The team adopted a 9-step stage-gate process roadmap to either advance or eliminate ideas. It begins with a market assessment, and is followed by idea generation, concept development, financial analysis, prototype development, production set-up, marketing test, product launch, and concludes with post-launch feedback.

Daman University

Daman TourMany mistakes were made along the way, and as a result, many important lessons were learned—profound lessons that Daman eagerly shares with others in Daman University. Community and business partners are invited to participate in programs which include touring Daman and learning how LEAN and the continuous improvement philosophy and practices have shaped their culture.

Improving Education

The competitiveness of the U.S. is closely linked to the success of our youth in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Believing there is a need to improve the capacity and diversity of the STEM workforce pipeline, Daman sponsored its first NFPA Fluid Power Challenge in 2010 at the University of Notre Dame where they continued to host it through 2013. In 2014-15, Daman sponsored the event at Ivy Tech in South Bend.

DamanFPCChallengeDay1Hundreds of seventh and eighth graders from the area participate in this hands-on challenge where they design and build machines used in real-world applications. Originating in Canada, the challenge was meant to inspire middle school age children to choose more math and science courses in high school. 2016 marks the seventh year that Daman is proud to be part of the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge.

Awards and Recognition

In 2003, Daman won the Small Business of the Year Award from St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, Daman was a Spirit Award Finalist—Entrepreneurial Award of Distinction—sponsored by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. This award recognizes outstanding emerging and established companies within the state of Indiana for their achievements in innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. In 2005, the Indiana District Office of the Small Business Administration honored Larry Davis as Indiana’s Small Business Person of the Year.  Daman’s other awards include: 2008 One of 50 Indiana Companies to Watch, 2009 AME Manufacturing Excellence Award–Great Lakes Region, 2011 Contributions to Education–Corporate Award, 2011 Samaritan Award, 2012 Safety Achievement Award, and the 2013 Inc Magazine Fastest Growing Companies award.

What’s Next

There were never any hard lines drawn in the sand, no artificial goals or 5-year plans for Daman. The journey they began in 1997 was, and will always be, an adventure of discovery and betterment for Daman and their customers. They will continue to focus on what they can do better tomorrow.  The mission is to help customers succeed, provide better opportunities for their employees, and to be innovators in their industry.

>>Read Part 1

The Evolution of Daman – Part I

jackArmed with only a high school education, a sharp engineering mind and a desire to build a better product, Jack Davis, a man with no manufacturing experience, embarked on a business venture that would eventually become a leading hydraulic valve manifold company and an inspirational model for other manufacturing companies throughout the U.S.

While working for Neff Engineering, selling hydraulics, a distributor made Jack aware of the need for higher quality custom manifolds that would be delivered on time. In 1976, the Mishawaka native and his son Larry, who left college and his job in construction to join him, founded Daman Products.

Daman ProductsIn a cramped 40×40 warehouse on Smith Street that was also being used for storage, they built their first order for 14 parts from a former Michigan distributor, Hydro Mechanical, making hydraulic valve manifolds. As the business began to grow, Daman Products needed to hire other employees. Jack and Larry were not prepared for the challenges that came along with a growing business, especially one growing as quickly as theirs. They overcame obstacles with sheer determination and by working long hours, but they couldn’t continue on this path forever.

In 1979, Daman Products needed to move into a larger building on Home Street and their problems followed. Because they lacked the culture, equipment and processes needed to run a successful manufacturing company, they were having trouble following through on their orders. The open-loop equipment they were using was unreliable and inaccurate, creating wasted time, materials and money.

Mazak, tool machineA turning point for Daman was the purchase of their first Mazak machine, in 1985. While the machine tool was considerably more expensive than their other equipment, its quality and reliability allowed Daman to produce a much larger range of lot sizes, and various components from simple to complex integrated circuit blocks. It was so reliable and accurate that Daman was able to go to three shifts two short years later.

Because of their rapid growth, Daman hired an accountant. In 1992, Dave Mischler was brought on as the controller. He was later promoted to Vice President of Operations, and today is the Executive Vice President and part owner of Daman Products.

By 1995, Daman was spending a tremendous amount of money managing a chaotic, forecast-driven manufacturing process typified by a heavy investment in inventory. They were now selling products in Australia, as well as North America. The company was doubling in size every five years and they were once again running out of space, prompting them to purchase land on the 1800 block of Home Street where they were planning to construct a 48,159 square foot building.

From the outside, Daman Products appeared to be doing very well, but on the inside operations were chaotic and they knew things needed to change. In 1997, accounting firm Crowe Chizek convinced the executive team that a $50,000 accounting software package would solve many of their problems, but they also recommended that their newly developed manufacturing division evaluate their operations. They agreed to meet and since then, life at Daman Products has never been the same.

>>Continue Reading Part 2

A Special Thank You! Another Successful Fluid Power Challenge

In December, we completed our 2015 Fluid Power Challenge competition. Without your support, we couldn’t have achieved our best year yet!

Local seventh and eighth grade students from Clay Intermediate, Edison Intermediate, Greene Intermediate, Jackson Intermediate, Jefferson Traditional, LaSalle Academy, Marshall Intermediate, Navarre Intermediate, John Young Middle, Jimtown Middle and Career Academy of South Bend participated in the 2015 Fluid Power Challenge hosted by Daman Products Company.

This video is a tribute to our partners who helped to make this event a success!

2015 Fluid Powr TY 

​The 2015 winners for each category are:

  • Teamwork Category: LaSalle School-Team 30
  • Design Category: Jimtown-Team 13
  • Portfolio Category: LaSalle-Team 32
  • Challenge Category (move the block): John Young-Team 3
  • Grand Campion Overall Winner: Jackson Intermediate-Team 37

Click here to learn more about Daman’s Fluid Power Challenge on their website.

Daman Leadership to Speak at AME in Cincinnati: Metrics Can Be Lean Too

When “What Gets Measured Gets Done” Collides with Lean Culture

In the Metrics Can Be Lean Too presentation, Larry Davis and Dave Mischler will challenge AME participants about rethinking conventional business practices and exploring possibilities for continuous improvement in a culture of trust.  Learn more here.

AMEGraphicThe Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) 2015 International Conference takes place October 19-23. Larry and Dave’s presentation will take place 9:30-10:30AM in Room 206/207 on the 2nd floor.  View more details about this session and be sure to register now to join industry leaders at the largest lean conference in the world.

The conference comprises of nine keynote speakers, 54 presentations40 tours18 special interest sessions and 40 workshops provide you with a transformational learning experience like no other. Learning from the insights of world-class, highly successful practitioners who have been there and done that, you are provided with a trusted source of knowledge that you can rely on to confidently make the changes needed to accelerate growth. The leaner processes are, and the more engaged people are, the more productive you become and the greater your bottom-line success will be.