A Conversation With Doug Brady, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing, Demilec
With a presence in the United States and Canada, Demilec is one of the oldest spray foam manufacturers in existence. Doug Brady, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing, sat down with Spray Foam
Magazine to discuss the growth of the industry, both in Canada and in the States, as well as Demilec’s innovative role in it.
Spray Foam Magazine: You’ve been involved in the industry for some time – whether it is foam or the equipment with which to spray it. How did you come to be the VP of Product Management and Marketing of one of the most successful companies in the spray polyurethane foam industry?
Doug Brady: I worked for Graco, the dominant equipment manufacturer in the marketspace, from 2002, in my last role, from 2009 to 2012; I was the Director of Sales and Marketing for their High Performance Coating and Foam Group. My responsibilities included both North America and global responsibilities. I left to take a position as the Vice President of Marketing for Houston Wire and Cable – a great company, but one that is not in the spray polyurethane foam or industrial coatings spaces. I missed it. In 2015, I got a call from Demilec. I joined the team as the Vice President of Product Management and Marketing. I was very excited to join because I knew Demilec from my days at Graco where they were a huge distributor, in addition to their overall name in the marketspace.
SFM: What makes Demilec the forward-thinking, innovative company that it is?
DB: From the outset, Demilec’s grounding has been in product innovation. The company started in 1983, in Canada, and the chemists were focused on delivering the best-in-class, closed-cell product in the Canadian market. That expanded out to include building science capabilities and working with contractors to better use SPF. It has since expanded into the
U.S. when the company opened a location in Arlington, Texas, simultaneously operating both locations – in Canada and Arlington.
Our founder has developed his own formula for polyols, which are critical to the resin, so we are vertically integrated back through the polyol plant using recycled plastic and soybean oil. This gives our products some great recyclable characteristics, as well as flame-spread reduction and overall capacity for heat, lower exotherm, etc. It also allows us to spray thicker passes of closed-cell.
We have a very strong history of product development and innovation – beginning in Canada and moving though the U.S. It can really be seen through the breadth of product line that we have – there’s pretty much not a product out there within the insulation space that we’re not touching or covering. This was our founder’s vision and we’ve carried it through to today.
In fact, our tagline is “More than insulation, innovation” because we know we’re going to operate more on that cutting edge. Our most recent product is HeatLok® HFO. Although we’re not the first company out there to release an HFO version of our closed-cell, ours has two amazing features: It can be sprayed in a 6.5-inch lift and it has an R-7.5 per inch for 4-inches or greater. When you combine those two elements, it means that in 6.5-inches I can spray an R-49, which is prescriptive to code for Zone 4 and higher, in the ceiling. So now instead of having to let the foam cool or building multiple passes, our contractors can spray an R49 in a cathedral ceiling in one pass and be more efficient and effective. That’s the innovation that we’re trying to drive. We constantly ask: How can we better improve how our contractors are able to spray? How can we help them be more efficient?
Innovation extends beyond our product development side. We have recently consolidated down into one facility in Texas. It is the most state-of-the-art facility that is out there – completely computer controlled, including dosing of major raw materials with the capacity to handle anything the market can throw at us. It is a large open space with beautiful reactors and a central controlling station.
SFM: In your role as Demilec’s VP of Product Management and Marketing, what is your day-to-day objective? How do you achieve it?
DB: Plain and simple: Service the customer. That is where my role comes in, whether evaluating pricing, looking at inventory levels, reviewing quality information, or working with the chemists as far as the next generation of product – it is a day-to-day opportunity that is very different but very stimulating in terms of what we’re trying to do and where we’re trying to go. Our vision has always been to help the contractor from the drum to the gun, to the foam in the wall. We can’t do that if we don’t have good product. We can’t do that if we don’t have good people. Those people who are out on the front line need support and I’m right behind them. I also interface with the technology team, as well as the marketing team and testing. Externally, I interface with the sales team on a regular basis. I’m at the trade shows interfacing with customers, and I have back office responsibilities as well.
SFM: Tell us about Demilec. You are driving the industry forward with innovation and technical expertise. How is this being accomplished?
DB: In addition to innovation and expertise, service is a huge aspect to this industry. Demilec has been known for this. We have really focused on quality and service – especially over the past year. We want to make sure that our product from drum-to-drum and batch-to-batch has the consistency that the sprayer is expecting to have because that’s when the sprayer is going to lose efficiency – when they have to adjust on a drum-to-drum type situation. We’ve put in a number of controls in order to ensure that we have the highest quality that is going out the door. We also have assembled a team, that if and when we do have a quality issue, the information will go all the way up to our CEO within 24 hours. We track and keep a focus on what is going on with our product in the market. This also translates to getting product to customers as quickly as possible; typically 90 percent of our customers are getting their products within 48 hours. We have even brought new distribution partners on board within the last 12 months to expand our existing distribution base. We have one of the best sales and tech service teams out there – many of our sales people have been contractors in the past so they can really relate to some of the challenges that our contractors have and can address those needs very quickly. Our tech service people are all Graco trained, so they are not going to blame something on bad equipment. They are going to break down the equipment and get our contractors back to spraying foam.
SFM: What is Demilec’s strategy for continued growth and success – from the beginning until now?
DB: Continue to grow not just through product innovation but also through where we use that product. We have a fully staffed building science team, headed up by Vice President of Building Science, Tom Harris. We can help our contractors find different ways to spray foam. One of the biggest pushes right now is getting to a continuous air barrier within the new 2015 code – we’re working on moving where you spray foam from the interior to the exterior. We’ve been successfully doing this in Canada for two decades. It is a combination of product and building science and we are reaching out to educate the market and drive this message.
SFM: How is Demilec’s relationship with applicators?
DB: We partner with our contractors in local areas to bring in architects and builders to educate them about SPF. Since 2008, builders have reduced building science departments and need information on meeting code. This is where we come in and help drive knowledge of SPF and further the industry – and help our contractor partners too. We have also brought back Demilec University. Every SPF is different, and there is no generic way to spray foam, so we give individual training in our product. We bring our applicators to Arlington, to work with our tech team and help them understand how to spray our foam more successfully. We aren’t necessarily showing them anything they don’t know – we’re helping them dial in our product so that they can be more efficient with it.
SFM: What specific markets does Demilec target and serve?
DB: Residential and commercial targeted, coast-to-coast, North-to-South, and in Canada. We have a broad spectrum in terms of the contractors we service, targeted specifically to insulation. We are an insulation company and that is our focus in terms of how we go to market.
SFM: What does the future hold for Demilec?
DB: Growth. Our business model demonstrated growth throughout the recession so we know our capabilities. We know the opportunities out there. We recognize the brand that we have. And, we’re not afraid to grow the overall size of the market. Yes, it floats all boats, but we know that we can go out there and help the industry by going out there and continuing to demonstrate what SPF can do.
SFM: What is your outlook for the SPF industry in the coming years?
DB: I do expect SPF to grow. Spray foam is becoming much more accepted both by builders and by homeowners. Regardless of the environmental climate or political prospective, I think homeowners and builders will continue to see the benefits that SPF brings beyond the R-Value – having a well-sealed spray-foamed house provides a more comfortable living environment and the opportunity to really adjust your interior temperature to a pleasant level and a reasonable price and to create a living space that more people will demand in coming years. I see this everywhere from commercial to high-end residential, even all the way down to tract builders. I think that using SPF will become more of a differentiator, at least in the short term, because if you’re in a spray-foamed house, you can feel how much tighter the building environment is. Further, spray foam is not a defensible barrier to entry. Once the tract builders start using SPF, the other tract builders will have to follow suit in order to compete. I also think that homeowners are going to lose sales to those who have SPF vs. houses without SPF. I think it is going to become a differentiator for a time period and then it’s going to become the constant and really continue to grow the overall industry. Whether that growth is steady or not – that’s the part of the future that I can’t see, I just know that we’re gearing up for growth both at Demilec and from an industry perspective. •
Photos courtesy of Demilec