Brothers Steve and Tom Trueb began the company in 1990 when they developed a plumbing product: A covering for plumbing under sinks in public restrooms, to protect people in wheelchairs from burns from hot water pipes.
The Lav Guard took off. The Trueb brothers outsourced the molding. Then, in 1997, they hired Forest to establish an injection molding plant. He bought two injection molding machines, Toyos, to run the Lav Guard.
Forest tells the story: "And then what happened was, probably three or four months in, it was all the best equipment, no skimping on equipment. It was kind of like, where I came from that was always my approach as well, because if you're skimping on equipment, you're fighting."
The molding operation was too efficient in pumping out the Lav Guards.
"You have the right material, the right hardware, then it really isn't rocket science," Forest said. "Here we started six to nine months and I needed to shut down because the warehouse was full. We were running too fast and too efficient. And it was like, oh, I just hired all these people — they were contract people but I'm training them, and now I have start over again."
Forest came from Hanson Group, where he learned the value of a strong culture, supporting employees and talking together. "A lot of times I think just comes down to plain, simple communication. We get so busy, we're tied into electronic and this, that or the other thing. If you just talk to people — pick up the phone one time instead of just putting it in an email," he said. "Emails can be perceived incorrectly."
Several other executives came to Dymotek from Hanson, including Morando.
To get the early custom work, Forest called up mold builders in New England. "I said, 'Look, I'll test your mold.' A lot of mold shops did not have mold testing ability. So they would say sure. I would almost give it away, just to get the exposure. And then instead of a process sheet and a bag of parts in a box, we would dress it up with a binder. I would have the material spec in there, part specs. I'd do some SPC on the part, find out if it's in control, or it's not."
At a lot of those mold trials, he said, "the OEM customer would come along as well. And so I'm in front of these folks, and this one was like, 'Norm, we're pretty busy, you guys interested in quoting this stuff?' And that's how it all took off."
The Truebs sold the under-sink plumbing line in 2004, retaining the manufacturing. That same year, Dymotek started using an IQMS ERP system (enterprise resource planning).
Done at the factory in Somers, the Lav Guard production today is a high-speed, automated work cell that links two 220-ton Arburg Alldrive injection presses to two ABB six-axis robots that remove the parts and insert fasteners.
Dymotek also continues to mold the Roof Top Blox, in a 440-ton Arburg.
Dymotek scored well in the criteria of industry and public service, with well-rounded efforts in both areas. On the industry side, the company promotes buying local, standardizing on Arburgs and buying Wittmann robots. Both European equipment suppliers have U.S. headquarters in Connecticut. Branson Ultrasonics also provides welding equipment.
The molder also keeps close relationships with industry associations, including the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), the Society of Plastics Engineers, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.
In 2015, Dymotek won the President's E-Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for shipping parts to more than 35 countries.
And Dymotek plays an important role in its small towns in Ellington and Somers. A charity committee picks where to donate in the community, good works like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Ellington Farmers Market and youth sports.
Factory tours also help, as does a strong participation in Manufacturing Day.
It all builds word of mouth. And then you have the corner coffee shop approach, favored by human resources manager Laura Gayton. "There are times I'm at Dunkin' Donuts and I wanna say, 'Why do you work here? Why don't you come to work at Dymotek?'" she said, laughing. "And there's some good people you just run into anywhere, at a grocery store, and we'll say, 'Hey have you ever thought of working at Dymotek?' We all do that." They wear their Dymotek shirts around town.
The company posts positions on online job sites and sometimes even puts a help wanted sign out front. They also hire through temp agencies.
But let's go back to the Dunkin' Donuts-style hiring. Robert Theriaque, senior project manager, was getting work done on his car at a local dealership. The technician, Justin Goodson, impressed him. Goodson, who had taken some technical college classes, ended up joining Dymotek three years ago, first as an engineering associate and now as manufacturing engineer where he works with automation, controls and secondary processes.
Soon after he started, Morando took Goodson on a trip to Austria to meet an LSR technology supplier. "When he started, he had never seen a molding machine," Morando said. In Austria, as in Germany, skilled factory people begin training at age 15. "By the time they're in their 20s they have a lot of knowledge. Justin came in and — so he had only been here a few months — and after a day or so he was setting up one of the cells that we were developing. Our molding machine was in Austria getting set up for one of the tools, and [the Austrians] came to me after a day, they're like, 'Where'd you find this guy? He is really good.' So right away recognized the fact that he was that good. It was a great advantage for us to find Justin."
Another Dymotek employee was driving a Zamboni at a local ice rink where he met someone from the processor. Connections matter.
Dymotek also has hired several high school interns.
Bringing employees to the roundtable