This progressive approach has led to Dalsin’s emergence as a leader in high-value contract manufacturing of precision metal products.
What makes the company unique is its ability to deliver operational excellence to multiple industries through its unique integration of people, processes, and production technology. Dalsin’s manufacturing services combine collaborative design assistance, design-for-manufacture optimization, high velocity manufacturing, precise planning and production control, and supply chain management. However, the serial innovators wouldn’t have reached the level of success—in 75 years of existence—without dabbling with new technologies. “We are constantly upgrading our (manufacturing) plant with robotics and automation,” says Fruth. Dalsin is also the OEM for its award-winning Memphis Wood Fire Grills, a sophisticated outdoor cooking appliance, which was designed, manufactured, assembled, and tested by Dalsin and sold through a dealer network.
"Many of our customers are focused on the Chinese market but lack the wherewithal to source goods. Through our network, we are saving them significant amount of money they would otherwise pay for tariffs"
As impressive as Dalsin’s innovations are, the technology-driven enterprise is the first to admit that its existing service model will continue to transform and adapt to customer needs. A family-owned business, Dalsin’s storied history can be split into three 25-year phases, with each of the periods yielding prosperity from different lines of businesses in the realm of metal fabrication. During the foundational years, the Dick Dalsin Sheet Metal Company, founded by Richard E. (“Dick”) and Eleanor Dalsin, specialized in architectural sheet metal products in both residential and commercial sectors and producing high-quality gutters, scuppers, and other custom fabricated sheet metal products. By the 1980s, Dalsin witnessed a seismic shift in the industry and its business as NC and CNC equipment became highly more prevalent across the manufacturing landscape (automotive, construction equipment, industrial). As a result, Dalsin invested heavily in technology and manufactured precision sheet metal components for myriad industries. After transitioning from architectural metals into complex manufacturing processes, Dalsin benefitted clients in the gas-fireplace industry. “At this juncture of our evolution, we fabricated the fireboxes used in fireplaces,” says Tom Schmeling, VP, Sales and Marketing, Dalsin.
In fact, Dalsin began to diversify into supporting other OEMs in a variety of industries by “moving into higher-end precision sheet metal manufacturing processes, and incorporating state-of-the-art technology, we ventured into a whole new territory that included the bigger players in a variety of markets,” he adds.
Once customers show up at our facility, there is a high probability we’ll secure their business. They are floored when they observe our state-of-the-art technology
Rare Expertise to Improvise OEM Design
Dalsin’s high client approval rating stems from its products, services, and overall shop capabilities, which includes flat part generation with automated laser cutting and punching equipment, forming technology with press brakes and automated panel bending (Salvagnini), robotic welding, assembly, and powder coat painting.
However, that’s not where Dalsin draws the line. Clients are buoyed by Dalsin’s engineering support expertise, a value-add that the contract manufacturer considers “a key market differentiator.” Dalsin has harnessed the wherewithal to examine an original OEM design and modify it to a more manufacture-able and cost-effective design for Dalsin’s customers, Coronna says, “When we can get clients to interact on design, we are almost always able to enhance the original design. This unique service draws clients and brings them back for new projects.”
Supporting large OEMs has become commonplace for Dalsin in recent years. As revealed by Schmeling, Dalsin has undertaken several projects where it would take components from an OEM’s design and consolidate several part numbers. Schmeling narrates one such use case involving a bus manufacturer. “In this particular case, we took an assembly that had more than 20 components and reduced it to just six. We optimized part design, improved quality and reduced costs for the customer. It was a win-win,” he says, before adding that “Dalsin takes pride in acting as an extension of a client’s engineering team, we always work to optimize the cost and quality of the components for our customers.”
Even as OEMs grow and alter their product lines, Dalsin is able to evolve accordingly and sustain long-term relationships. With Dalsin gaining the trust of large OEMs, it was recently approached by several customers that were suffering from substandard support of quality, delivery, and supply chain issues. They required engineering support that their existing suppliers couldn’t provide. Fruth recalls one such emergency mission involving a solar project. “The client’s supplier had limited automation capabilities. Once the project got to a certain volume, they needed a different level of technical support and manufacturing capabilities which we were able to provide to the next level.”
Winning Over Clients with World Class Facility
Dalsin’s ongoing continuous improvement initiative has played a significant role in OEMs and large companies turning to the Minnesota- based service provider. By developing and tracking key metrics, not to mention constantly investing in robotics and automation, Dalsin persistently drives for improvement at its production facility. “They (OEMs) notice it right away when they come to audit our facility,” reveals Schmeling.
In a competitive industry where contract manufacturers are chasing the same OEMs for clients, Dalsin’s world-class facility has emerged as a surefire weapon to secure potential customers. Fruth explains, “Once customers tour our facility, there is a high probability we’ll secure their business. They are impressed when they observe our process capability, state-of-the-art technology, collaborative workforce from the shop floor, office and engineering staff.”
Global Fabrication Supply Chain to Boot
If efficient manufacturing processes, rich fabrication, and unique collaboration design services aren’t enough to set Dalsin apart, the contract manufacturer manages the entire supply chain on behalf of clients, including verification, design, production, packaging, materials handling, containerization, shipping, logistics, and recycling. Through its global fabrication supply chain program, Dalsin responds to fabrication needs (raw materials and production capabilities) by tapping into its vast network of global suppliers.
The need for such a program stems from a large customer needing Dalsin to support solar installs around the world and the business worked to help its customer localize its supply base for those installs. The initiative has led to Dalsin developing a global supply base, including offshore suppliers in Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe as Dalsin expands its fabrication and production capabilities. For example, if a client approaches Dalsin with a list of components they want supplied, Dalsin determines what can be produced internally and what should be produced through their global network. This allows Dalsin to optimize quality, cost and delivery for an entire project for our customers, says Schmeling.
Another example of the program is helping Dalsin’s clients overcome recent tariff-related issues. “To customers that had only focused on adding suppliers in areas now impacted by tariffs, Dalsin can help them by utilizing its vast global supply chain to mitigate the impact of those tariffs,” highlights Fruth. Dalsin maintains a global supply chain by vigorously vetting each supplier to ensure they meet their standards of quality and process control. According to Fruth, Dalsin audits a supplier’s qualifications, certifications, manufacturing processes, and even logistics capabilities, before partnering with them.
Dalsin follows the same vetting process, regardless of a supplier’s location. “Due to the trust we’ve established with clients, they are not concerned where manufacturing takes place because the quality (offered by us) is a constant. This is why we approach every supplier—local or global—the same way,” adds Fruth.
New Product Development Process
The global supply chain program is not the only innovative change at Dalsin. They also looked for a way to improve how they deliver new projects to their customers. As Dalsin is awarded new programs from current or new customers, they have developed and followed a disciplined stage gate process. They assign a program leader and cross-functional team to develop the plan to move the product through the production process. They monitor and track progress to the plan from a cost, quality and delivery standpoint to assure they meet their customer’s requirements. Once product is delivered, they review the performance of the project to the plans and look for ways to improve the process for the next project. It has been an effective way to monitor their progress for these new projects and communicate to their customers throughout the development of these programs.
Proactive and Ready for Next 75 Years
On the brink of its 75th anniversary, Dalsin has no plans of slowing down. If its rich history of innovation is proof, Dalsin is primed for multiple growth spurts over the next 75 years. Throughout their history, Dalsin has continually tried to diversify its customer base and industries it serves. As they look to continue that diversification, Dalsin has initiated its new go-to-market program as they search for new market opportunities. For example, the large vehicle manufacturing market is once again a calling card for Dalsin. “The large vehicle market is growing once again, and we’re being proactive rather than waiting for them (clients) to find us. As part of our go-to-market program, we have ventured into new industries such as medical equipment,” informs Coronna.
At the core of it all, Dalsin wishes to work with customers who fit hand-and-glove with its value proposition, capabilities, and philosophies. The goal is to deliver top-class automation solutions. “We will continue to invest in technology, people, and diversify our customer base and industries we supply to,” stresses Fruth. “We want to build a foundation for the next 75 years.”
Why must clients choose Dalsin? Fruth concludes with a powerful one-liner. “Dalsin is a strong believer and executor of what most companies would define as manufacturing excellence.”