The Des-Case Corporation is a world leader in designing innovative solutions for protecting lubricants from contamination. The lifespan of any piece of mechanical equipment is directly related to how well-lubricated the part is during operation, but the quality of a lubricant can be negatively impacted by moisture and other contaminants. Des-Case manufactures a suite of products to help maintain lubricant quality, extend the life of expensive mechanical hardware, and save customers on costly repairs and replacements over time.
One such product is the desiccant breather. These devices prevent moisture and particles from entering equipment when it ‘breathes’ when air expands and contracts as a result of changing temperature or displacement in hydraulic systems. Without a device like this, the lubricant will become contaminated and, over time, the machinery like pumps or gearboxes will accumulate damage.
In the last few years, Des-Case has undergone some big changes that have led to significant growth. In 2018, it acquired RMF Systems, a company based in Holland that is leading the European market in products designed for hydraulic oil and lubricant cleanliness. It has continued to expand its footprint in Europe and the Middle East since that time, and most recently, it opened offices in Shanghai, China and Mumbai, India.
Making these strides in expansion can be attributed to adding key members to the team of approximately 120 employees. A strategic alignment in early 2021 led to a few organizational changes. Part of the initiative included welcoming new Chief Executive Officer, Marcus Pillion, as well as new Chief Commercial Officer, Jason Bendon. Under their leadership, the company expects to proceed with further expansion and acquisition going forward.
Given the unique circumstances of the last two years, it is particularly impressive that Des-Case has seen such success in global expansion. While so many manufacturing companies struggled to outlast the pandemic, Des-Case has found a way to not only survive but grow. Throughout the pandemic, production reliability has been a huge concern, and this is where the team has proven its value.
“Especially for plants that suffered shutdowns or had less people on staff, reliability was a big focus. So, we helped a lot of those reliability maintenance managers with training; we offered a lot of webinars, and we went fully digital really quickly,” says Head of Marketing Franziska Martin.
Already familiar with digital output before the pandemic, the company concentrated its attention after 2020 on providing weekly webinars to the many customers who were interested in staying informed. One of the primary objectives of these helpful webinars was to educate manufacturers on how to keep equipment clean during a planned shutdown or when production gets backed up so as to maintain the life of the equipment.
The shift to remote work was more challenging for the sales team, accustomed to traveling and making sales visits in person with customers. This was particularly a hindrance for the European offices that were in lockdown for a much longer period. Sales teams are no longer confined to virtual visits, and they are happy to be out and about once again.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic had little effect on the company’s business demand and growth, the resulting supply chain shortages have been a challenge more recently. Fortunately, Des-Case has had no major issues producing its breathers, unlike many of its competitors in the industry at this time. The only constraints are pertaining to supply chain shortages of truck drivers and logistical challenges of on-time shipments to other countries.
A key beneficial aspect of improving digital platforms in the last two years is that it helped to develop and bring together the global team as it expanded. “Working just through digital platforms as a team and then having new members start in China and India, it felt almost normal. Now we still haven’t met them in person because travel restrictions are still in place in certain countries, but it helped make them feel like part of the team even if they weren’t necessarily in the same country,” says Martin.
In six out of the past seven years, Des-Case has continued to be named one of the Top Workplaces in Tennessee by The Tennessean newspaper. The staff members choose to stay and grow their careers here because of the company’s commitment to creating a positive workplace culture, and the high number of long-tenured employees proves it.
Another reason people choose to stick with Des-Case is the excitement of working with such an innovative company, currently leading the industry in lubricant cleanliness. It is a company always focused on enhancing the performance of its products to serve its customers better with long-lasting solutions. For example, in 2019, the company found a way to improve its desiccant breathers and increase the airflow, which extends the life expectancy considerably.
Indeed, “People make the difference in our business. We are fortunate to have such a hardworking, driven organization that also values the importance of having fun as well. It is a joy and honor for Des-Case to continue to be recognized for this distinction,” says Marcus Pillion, CEO of Des-Case.
Des-Case offers one of the broadest ranges of breathers available on the market. Another product the company is highlighting is its hydraulic offline oil filtration system. It is a dedicated filtration unit designed to remove solid particles and water from the oil.
In 2020, the company also launched a remote diagnostic monitoring solution in the form of a subscription program. The IsoLogic® sensor technology provides the company’s breathers with the first remote diagnostic tool of its kind. It is operated via Bluetooth, and its sensors collect valuable information to monitor the reliability of the breathers. The subscription program allows the company to proactively monitor this data for its customers.
This comprehensive solution is especially appealing to the large OEM market. “The IsoLogic® breather can be mounted on remote or hard-to-access equipment, thus decreasing lube routes and minimizing the risks of falls when trying to access hard to reach areas,” explains Martin. “It’s one way of making a workplace safer for employees just by not having to check on equipment.”
Raising awareness and keeping its customers informed is an essential secondary priority of the business. “We are the original provider of the desiccant breather, and we are still the industry leader in reliability products and services that extend the life of industrial lubricants. I think what sets us apart from the competition is we not only sell the products, we also educate the market. Des-Case is recognized as an industry ‘Thought Leader’ in equipment reliability and lubrication and part of our offering is to pass that knowledge on to our customers. We want them to know what’s in their oil and what they can do about it because there has to be predictive and preventive maintenance options to support it,” says Martin.
The Des-Case team spreads awareness by speaking at symposiums and trade shows, publishing articles from the service team, on-site education in the field, and hosting its free webinars.
Additionally, the company has two demonstration trucks that are used for educating its customers and distributors. The Mobile Reliability Experience was launched in 2016 but due to the pandemic, it had a slow start. “Now out all over North America, this is a great tool for any customers to learn and observe lubrication best practices in a state-of-the-art reliability truck,” explains Martin. “Our sales team demonstrates how to protect and clean lubricants throughout their lifecycle, as well as assess critical assets and provide product samples to show [return on investment].” The trucks also came in handy when manufacturing plants were still inaccessible since they were able to park outside the building to have people visit in a safe environment.
Known for providing quality desiccant breathers for almost forty years, Des-Case now offers much more. “With the whole educational aspect, it’s a holistic approach. From the beginning to the end, we have products and offerings that support your company and your lubrication program,” says Martin.
In the future, Des-Case looks forward to a steady path of growth. It has plans to continue to expand both organically and through acquisitions. By building its sales force in its current locations and branching out to new countries, the company’s goal is to serve the market on a larger scale. “Des-Case’s workforce is as strong as ever and as we continue to grow globally; we are excited about what the future holds,” says Pillion.