Monday 10 September 2012

Davis Controls Ltd. - What's Going On At DCL

In the spring of 1981, Davis Controls was appointed Canadian distributor for the Richard Klinger program of Magnetic Level Gauges manufactured in Sidcup, Kent in England as well as for their line of steam valves and conventional sight level gauges for steam and process applications, manufactured in Gumpoldskirchen, Austria.

By 1989, sales and the relationship between Davis and Klinger had developed to the point where it made good sense for us to enter into a Manufacturing license agreement, authorizing Davis Controls to manufacture Magnetic Level Gauges for the Canadian and US markets.  Under this agreement, the proprietary gauge components were sourced from Klinger in Europe while the pressure bearing fittings and material could be sourced in North America, where we could more easily locate and control the pipe, flanges and other pressure boundary parts needed to satisfy our local ANSI,  ASME  and CRN specifications.

This was our first and so far only foray into outright Manufacturing, and once again, I am pleased to say that this too has been a successful venture for us.  At another level, short of full blown manufacturing, Davis Controls has always been involved in ‘marginal manufacturing’, panel building, kitting and assembly and this activity continues to represent a large component of our value proposition.

We are often asked if we have any interest in being involved with a manufacturer under a Representative relationship or ‘Rep’ agreement.  This role differs from that of a Distributor in that it is the function and responsibility of a Distributor to purchase (take ownership), import, stock and resell product.  Sales Representatives on the other hand are intermediaries that act on behalf of the Manufacturer but do not take title to the products and instead are responsible to solicit orders from customers for which they then collect a commission and/or fee from the manufacturer (exporter).   The role of the ‘Rep’ gets a bit complicated when you have the conversation with the customer about who will pay the import duties (not a big deal any more, but it used to be), freight from the manufacturer and brokerage fees that are imposed when the shipment crosses the border and then about what currency the manufacturer expects to be paid in and who will assume the exchange risk.  We, as a Distributor, take care of all of these import transaction issues and provide the product FOB Oakville.  We have elected not to get involved in ‘Rep’ relationships so that we are free to provide the human and technical resources necessary to understand and promote the product effectively.

Field Service and Commissioning are two other activities that Davis Controls is profitably involved in.  We have trained and experienced technicians in our Service department who, in addition to the bench repairs they perform on products that we sell, are regularly engaged in field service and calibration, maintenance contracts, set up and commissioning.  You may recall from my first two blogs that when Mr. Davis started the company in 1933, he single-handedly managed both the Distribution and Service activities of Davis Controls from the seat of his bike, and we faithfully continue in that tradition.

Social Media:  You have probably noticed that our website  has been enhanced with the following social media links and while we have quite a bit of activity already on each site, we still have a lot to learn about how to leverage these web-based and mobile based technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue with our customer accounts and contacts.

The fact that you are reading this blog is confirmation that at least this element of our ‘social’ initiative to communicate newsy items about Davis Controls is working.

Finally, the last two activities that I will mention only briefly are Joint Ventures and System Integration, both of which have been tried, but with less than spectacular results.   In both cases these experiments, which seemed like good ideas at the time, were terminated for reasons too complex to review here.  For now, it is enough to say that they have been considered, tried and set aside, at least for now.

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