The year 1989 was an important one for both the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown and Demco Automation because it was the year that both were founded. And it wouldn’t be long before the two would be connected – the former as a manufacturing business incubator, and the latter as an incubator program client.
How it started
Founder Dave Duemler created Demco Automation to develop and build custom automated manufacturing systems for automotive, electronics, defense and industrial clients, as well as clients in the life sciences industry like medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotech.
It continues to build systems not only for local companies but also companies across the United States, Caribbean, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim. Robotics, material handling, motion control, and vision system are just some of the technologies they develop to make production lines more accurate and efficient.
Time of transition
After Dave’s untimely passing, Stephen Maund, Director of Engineering and Manufacturing at the time, put together an acquisition of the company in 2010. The company has stayed in the greater Lehigh Valley region and is currently located in Quakertown.
Today, Maund is President and CEO of Demco, employs a staff of 15 technicians and engineers, and has doubled revenues since 2012. Inc. magazine listed the company in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2014, one of only eight Pennsylvania manufacturers to make the list that year.
“We turn around most of our custom automated manufacturing systems in 14-26 weeks from the time we receive a client’s order to the date it ships,” said Maund. “ We go onsite to install the system, conduct a Site Acceptance Test, provide training, and offer ongoing service and support after the equipment is running in production. We provide our customer with a high-quality and cost-effective design that maximizes their return on investment for years to come. Because of our emphasis on providing highly reliable automation, we’ve built a loyal customer base with a significant portion of our programs being repeat business from existing clients. Our success has everything to do with our very talented and experienced team.”
“Even though Steve has a highly technical background, he really understands how to grow sales and drive the company towards profitability,” explained Allentown Economic Development Corporation Program Manager Anthony Durante. “He is a talented leader because he understands both sides of the equation of that makes a technical business successful – product and sales.”
While Demco Automation graduated from the Bridgeworks incubation program almost 20 years ago in 1997, it was during its time there that it started to provide custom turnkey automated systems, which later evolved into the proprietary Demco Wedge Base Machine Chassis and patented its technology. This platform is a key element to Demco’s business today due to its flexible design, ability to be customized for clients, and reused for many years, thereby significantly reducing obsolescence that manufacturers see with competitors’ systems.
“I think the time we spent in the Bridgeworks incubation program was critical for developing the internal infrastructure that turned Demco into a viable business,” Maund said.
Another key factor that helped Demco grow was its relationship with the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. It received a grant in 1997 at a critical time in the development of the Wedge. More recently, it received a BFTP grant to implement enterprise resource planning software (ERP) so that Demco could better manage the backend of its business like accounting, inventory, and other aspects of operations within the company.
Keeping it local
Maund believes in keeping things local as much as possible to support other local businesses.
- Demco has done work with current Bridgeworks client JH Plastics, which made panels for the guard system on a production line currently in development at Demco’s plant.
- He works with Lehigh Career and Technical Institute to find students about to graduate who might become machinists in his shop.
- Whenever possible the company uses local service providers, including lawyers, accountants, and banks.
- Several of their clients are from the region too. For C.F. Martin & Co. (Martin Guitar) it developed both headstock and fingerboard processing cells, and for one of the largest U.S. defense companies it creates automated equipment for defense systems. Demco also developed numerous assembly systems for Lutron Electronics, and has more than a decade-long relationship with multiple medical device manufacturers in surgical instruments and dental products.
Giving back by helping today’s startups
Maund also believes in giving back to the community and serves on the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s Advisory Committee, helping to guide the organization’s future growth and expansion.
“I want Demco to give back to today’s entrepreneurs with the same type of assistance we received during our time at Bridgeworks,” Maund said. “I’m happy to mentor the startups and offer my insights to assist them as they grow.”
The road ahead
When looking down the road the next few years, Maund says the keyword is “strategy.”
“Demco continues to expand by developing new partnerships as well as standard products and technology. We also need to continue cultivating our relationships with our long-term customers each year in addition to earning new client business on a regular basis. This will enable us to increase our revenues while remaining efficient in our manufacturing operations.”
“The future is bright for industrial automation, and we need to position ourselves as a key player. Manufacturing processes are becoming more and more complex, and require our offerings to be successful.”