Category Archives: Latest News

Cautious Optimism in the Oil and Gas Industry

Attendance at the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference was down from previous years. Deep-water drillers, who have not yet felt the budding onshore recovery, stayed away from the industry’s largest convention.  Only 65,000 people walked the exhibit halls at NRG Park in Texas compared to the 108,000 individuals who attended in 2014 when oil prices passed $100 a barrel.

After suffering through the worst downturn in more than three decades, the oil and gas industry is embarking on “a new cycle of expansion” as companies send dozens of new rigs into Texas oil fields, drill hundreds more wells, and hire thousands of workers.

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Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior, was the keynote speaker for Offshore Energy Policies: Harnessing the Full Potential of America’s Offshore at OTC. During the conference, Zinke signed two secretarial orders aimed at unleashing America’s offshore energy potential and growing the U.S. economy.

The first order implements President Trump’s Executive Order signed April 28th and directs the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop a new five-year plan for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters and reconsider a number of regulations governing those activities.

The second order establishes a new position – Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy – to coordinate the Interior Department’s energy portfolio that spans nine of the Department’s ten bureaus.

“Today’s orders will help cement our Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy independence and security for the benefit of the American people while ensuring that this development is safe and environmentally responsible,” Secretary Zinke told industry representatives. “We are committed to fuller cooperation with the offshore industry and coastal communities to expand responsible energy development while holding industry accountable to strict safety and environmental protections.”

The general attitude about the oil and gas economy thus far is cautious optimism. ”2017 is going to be a year of recovery and expansion in the Texas statewide oil and gas exploration and production economy,” says Karr Ingram, economist.

Daman Announces Advancements in Leadership and Celebrates Employees

LD-DMDaman’s leadership team announced executive title changes at the quarterly company meeting held on July 19th.  Dave Mischler, previously Executive Vice President is now President of Daman Products; and Larry Davis, previously President is now Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

In the early 90’s, Daman’s rapid growth led them to search for a fiscal manager.  Dave Mischler was hired in 1992 as their controller and was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1996.  Then in 1997, he led management to integrate an ERP and was instrumental in the evolution of Daman’s Lean initiative which propelled Daman to a new level of excellence.  Investing over 24 years with the company, Dave has proven to be an indispensable asset who’s progressive business practices create the foundations from which the company has grown.

Larry has been with the company since the beginning, 40 years ago, and has served as President for the past 13.  A remarkable leader within the company and in the community, Larry is a proponent of initiatives that advance education for youth and supports forward thinking research programs relating to STEM and the fluid power industries.  He deeply cares about the employees at Daman, and the community at large.  Larry’s worthy contributions and leadership has led to Daman’s prosperity over the years.

Collectively, Dave and Larry have invested over 64 years to build the business and to ultimately help customers succeed.  Dave and Larry live the values upon which Daman was built—trust, respect, fairness and courage.

Daman welcomed guest speakers, Tom Hall and Eric Siegel of Tuesley, Hall & Konopa (THK).  THK has been Daman’s legal counsel since the 1970’s.

Topics of discussion included the importance of estate planning, which is the legal practice of helping business owners and individuals protect and preserve their assets by creating a plan in the wake of a disability or death.  They offer several services to assist with this process.

THK also covered the importance of protecting against identity theft and gave suggestions on how to do this.  For example, if fraudulent activity is detected, Siegel suggested to immediately freeze your credit through the three credit bureaus:  Experian, Transunion and Equifax.  THK provides services to aid victims of identity theft.


In other company news, Daman celebrated 41 third quarter employee birthdays, where each was given the opportunity to a spin on the prize wheel; 39 employees received a cash reward for perfect attendance last quarter, and 14 for excellent attendance.  Daman welcomed eight new employees and awarded four with five and ten year service awards.  Recruiting resumes for 2nd and 3rd shift employees, as Daman seeks to hire four to six new production team members.   Applications are accepted online.  Visit our career section. >>Here

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

Continuous Improvement at Daman

In 1997, Daman embraced the concept of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. The journey has helped us to establish a systematic approach to eliminating waste, streamlining processes, increasing efficiencies and creating flow throughout the company. Today, continuous improvement is part of our DNA. This video captures some of the latest improvements made by our innovative cell teams.