Dometic expands its focus on inventing and testing robust new cleaning and sanitation products for RV aftermarket.
Dan Smith, Dometic Chemical Engineer
ELKHART, Ind. – June 8, 2015 – Dometic Group, global supplier of comfort and convenience products for the RV, marine, hospitality and automotive industries, has debuted its new in-house chemical development and testing laboratory in LaGrange, Ind. The LaGrange team, led by veteran chemical engineer Dan Smith, is focused specifically on engineering and testing innovative cleaning and sanitation products for the recreational vehicle aftermarket.
“The LaGrange innovation center is an exciting step forward for Dometic as it expands its focus on inventing and testing the industry’s most robust cleaning and sanitation products. The LaGrange lab is not only designing new comfort products, it is also ensuring that each and every product is highly effective and environmentally friendly,” said Smith. “While in the past, Dometic has marketed products through partnerships with other vendors, moving forward everything we release to the market will be an original Dometic formula.”
Smith has been given free rein in establishing the processes for the LaGrange innovation center, which is setting milestones in manifold ways, including creating new industry standards and competitive benchmarking. He’s also breaking ground by establishing methods and processes that use RV-specific products, materials and situations to gauge a product’s effectiveness.
“While other companies conduct generalized soil removal tests, those protocols and methods don’t test what works on, for instance, actual pet stains on carpets, or tree sap stains on RV awnings,” said Smith. “We are testing our cleaning products in the same way they will be used. For instance, if a cleaning product is going to be used on an awning, we’re testing it on an awning instead of something else.”
Dometic is placing a renewed emphasis on sanitation products, a segment which represents a significant annual expenditure among recreationists. The company understands that it is critical for RVers to have products that effectively break down effluent and help maintain function of those specialized tank systems at extreme temperatures, so real-use testing is part of that process as well, Smith said.
“We’re trying to make it as lifelike as possible with practical application and functional testing, so yes, we test on human waste here,” he stated. “It’s the only way to ensure a product will provide the consumers with the same positive results. Another priority for us is for our solutions to be effective while environmentally friendly. We are scientifically very serious about that.”
Some of the lab tests on Dometic cleaning products have been filmed and posted on the company’s web site, as part of the Expert’s Corner collection of videos that demonstrate the company’s products in action. Another video provides an introduction by Smith with a tour of the lab.
The testing and development going on in this lab make it a brand-new initiative and facility, and not just for Dometic Americas but among all the corporation’s divisions – which makes Smith a worldwide go-to guy.
“If there’s really any chemical question globally having to do with RV, as well as marine consumables, it’s directed to this lab,” he related. “We have our main projects, but we’re always getting questions, sometimes oddball stuff that nobody else has an answer for. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we don’t, and if we don’t, we try to find a way to test it and find out from a scientific standpoint but with a real-life perspective.”
Dometic has proven to be an ideal employer for Smith; they’ve trusted his recommendations and provide liberal flexibility, a magic combination for a scientist who’s curious by nature and enjoys conducting experiments for a living.
“Some people call it an art and a science; it really is both. You take scientific principles and hypothesize on what you think is going to work, and then test it to see if you have something,” he said, adding that he rather enjoys it when the results surprise him. “With chemicals, you never quite know what’s going to happen.”
Those surprises don’t always happen in the lab – one came in the marketplace with the new Premium Awning Cleaner. “We got a huge response from RV dealers, which I didn’t quite expect in this way. They weren’t just wanting to sell the product; they wanted to use it themselves to clean up trade-ins for resale,” Smith related. “They were having a hard time finding something that really works and this product fit that need – it was an application that we didn’t foresee.”
Smith will conduct some in-field experimentation this year during an early-summer camping trip with his wife, their three small children and the family dog – a hands-on test subject for the Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator – in the Dometic RV, a Type C motorhome decked out with Dometic appliances and systems.
He looks forward to putting ideas and observations from his great-outdoors experience into his test tubes and notebooks when he gets back into the lab afterward, saying, “If you’re going to develop a great product for the market, you have to feel, eat and breathe the market.”
Doug Curtis, Dometic VP of Marketing for the America, added: “The LaGrange lab is another key component of Dometic's ongoing focus to engineer innovative comfort solutions that meet the needs of people when they're on the move away from home. This ‘mobile living community’ can count on Dometic to provide the highest quality, most effective products to keep their environments clean and comfortable.”
For more information about Dometic and its full product lines, visit www.DometicUSA.com.
For downloadable photos of the Dan Smith and his team in action, visit this link. This press release is available at www.dometicpressroom.com. Company videos are here, http://www.youtube.com/user/dometicofficial. Visit Dometic RV social sites at https://www.facebook.com/DometicRVUSA and https://twitter.com/dometicrvusa.
About Dometic Group
Dometic Group is a customer-driven, world-leading provider of leisure products for the recreational vehicle (RV), automotive, truck, marine markets and lodging markets. Dometic supplies the industry and aftermarket with a complete range of air conditioners, engine room ventilation systems, watermakers, refrigerators, awnings, cookers, sanitation systems, lighting, mobile power equipment, comfort and safety solutions, windows, doors and other equipment that makes leisure life more comfortable away from home. Dometic Group supplies a wide range of workshop equipment for service and maintenance of built-in air conditioning. Dometic Group also provides specially designed refrigerators for hotel rooms, offices and wine storage.
Dometic’s products are sold in almost 100 countries and are produced mainly in wholly owned production facilities around the world. Dometic has approximately 6,000 employees. Visit the Dometic USA site at www.dometic.com/usa.
Dometic RV OEM, VP Sales & Marketing
Dometic Director of Sales, Aftermarket