Armed 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.
In a cramped 40x40 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.
A 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.