by Linda Schmid
“Win.” That was the immediate response from Tony Delghingaro and Chris Davis, Sales Directors at Dr!pstop regarding their business philosophy. They then explained the components of their winning plan: having the best product combined with the best customer service. This leads right into their mission: Bring that product to as many people as they can and help them solve their condensation problems.
Davis states that they have a deep belief in their product, so their job is to educate everyone that it is a cheaper, faster, easier solution than others when used for the right application.
The company began as part of a non-woven material or woolenfeltz company, Filtz, in Germany around 100 years ago. Their primary market was in Slovenia. In 1995, the Dr!pstop product was developed to replace a product which made use of diatomaceous earth (basically a type of crushed sealife) that was used to soak up water. Dr!pstop is a much better solution Davis and Delghingaro promise.
In 1995 Dr!pstop spread throughout Europe. It came to America about 2004-2005.
The Freudenberg Acquisition
Now as part of Freudenberg, a cutting-edge provider of medical products among other things, Dr!pstop is like a company within a company. Before they were part of a group with approximately 300 European employees; now there are 50,000 employees worldwide. That said, the two salesmen say that the culture is amazingly laid back. “Most of the time, our meetings include the two of us,” Davis said. “Freudenberg is a customer-focused company and that’s the way we’ve always proceeded, so it works.”
It’s interesting to the sales team to see the production processes Freudenberg has developed and that allows them to contemplate how their technology might be put to work for Dr!pstop. One of the things they are planning is bringing production to America, but the timeline on that is not yet decided.
Dr!ipstop has had their challenges. Initially, their biggest hurdle was being accepted by steel and paint suppliers. They had to prove their product wouldn’t cause corrosion. Galvalume has a 30-40 year warranty, and no one was going to put Dr!pstop on their building if it was going to mess with that warranty. However, the testing and certification bore out that using Dr!pstop is a positive. While it’s like a sponge, it has a rubber layer that protects the panels. The testing showed that Dr!pstop not only didn’t cause corrosion problems, it helped fight corrosion on the panels.
When the company was working with bitumen roofing, there were market pricing issues which were very challenging. They moved to the agricultural market, which is now a fair piece of their business, but it tends to go up and down.
“When farmers have money, they spend it. When they don’t, they don’t,” Davis said.
They are also big in the self-storage sector. This industry has gone through its own challenges including a period when it was very difficult to get financing.
When self storage was struggling, “she sheds” and “man caves” began trending; as one sector slows, another ramps up.
“Port delays were another challenge for Dr!pstop,” Delghingaro said. Like other companies, they couldn’t get their imports off the boats onto the trucks and to the warehouse. “However,” he continued, “that really didn’t last all that long. Supply chain issues are, hopefully, in the rearview mirror.”
The company has experienced good growth over the last few years. Now with energy costs skyrocketing and transport costs going up, they’ve had to raise prices for the first time since 2005.
Dr!pstop is adhered to metal panels during the rollforming process, which is largely performed in industrial areas. However, rollforming equipment has become more affordable, and as it does so more people join the industry. There are many small companies, including Plain Communities Amish and Mennonite groups, so the industry is more fragmented than it was. These groups range across the country. As does Freudenberg. The headquarters is in Durham, North Carolina, but customers are spread throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Growth is constant and another salesperson is coming onboard to assist Davis in the western portion of the country.
Although they have many customers, this sales team finds delivering customer satisfaction easy. That is because their product is simple and it works well, so they answer customers’ questions and explain the limitations of what the product can and cannot do. Davis said it is their responsibility to educate people, and he believes they are doing a good job of it.
“People no longer come up to us and ask if our product is going to cause their panels to rust,” he said.
The company tries to ensure that they are solving their customers’ problems to the best of their ability by making enhancements to the products. They have added bells and whistles to make it more user friendly, developed a proprietary adhesive, worked on fiber thickness and strength.
They are always innovating. Currently they are working on a prototype of a product that can be retro-fitted to a building that has experienced moisture problems.
The final piece of the pie that makes this company run as effectively as it does: integrity. Tell the truth and work as hard as you can to ensure everything goes as planned. Davis and Delghingaro agree that is the easiest way to roll, and the most effective. RB