Just a Minute With Thomas Dalum President, Dueco Inc.

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Company Address: N4 W22610 Bluemound Road, Waukesha, WI 53186
Company Web site: www.dueco.com
Industry: Utility equipment manufacturing
Number of Employees: 300
Education: Bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame University; and master’s degree at Northwestern University.
Family: Wife, Maripat Dalum; and two children, Joe Dalum, vice president of Dueco, and Judie Taylor, president of Utility Equipment Leasing Corp.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
"This year, our company is celebrating its 50th anniversary in business. As with any company and industry, we have been and continue to be challenged with remaining competitive and staying focused on what we know best. Through a continued dedicated effort to maintain our core competency in the delivery of standard and specialized vehicles to the utility industry, we have been able to maintain, if not improve, our market share this year as we continue to gain customer satisfaction and loyalty in a very unique industry."

What’s new at your company?
"Approximately 18 months ago, we entered into an exploratory process to evaluate the merits of implementing the lean manufacturing process to our business. Through research, employee involvement and developing the attributes within the company to accept a fairly significant amount of change, we have successfully begun the implementation process to develop flow lines in lean manufacturing processes that take unnecessary time and inefficiencies out of the process. This has made us a stronger, more competitive company and has resulted in the doubling of our backlog on a year-over-year basis."

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in the next year?
"We have a number of openings currently available for various positions within our company. We are searching for office personnel and skilled and semi-skilled individuals with mechanical aptitude. We have completed an addition to our facilities in Watertown, S.D., to accommodate the additional business and are in the process of evaluating our option in Pennsylvania regarding a new branch service facility to replace the one we currently have."

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
"We need to continue to be competitive in the marketplace through an aggressive pricing matrix coupled with continued production and office efficiencies gained through the implementation of our lean manufacturing process. The challenge is to maintain our margin requirements that will provide us with the opportunity to continue to grow our operations."

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?
"The utility industry is quite conservative and slow to change. However, we do see movement to more standard product being purchased and a continued interest in the establishment of alliance programs that afford us multiple-year working relationships built on trust and loyalty."

Do you have a business mantra?
"We certainly encourage positive communications among all of our employees, whether at our main offices in Waukesha or throughout our branch operations. This would be characterized as participative management style and encouragement to resolve issues and conflicts as quickly and fairly as possible. I would like to think that we treat people within our organization as I would expect to be treated by others. I believe that this has, over the years, provided Dueco with the reputation of a very personable, well-accepted organization and one that is considered to be very professional in its approach to business."

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
"I have been associated with Dueco for more than 41 years. During that time, I have always respected our fellow employees for the amount of dedication and loyalty they have shown to me personally, as well as the company. We have been fortunate to have a minimum amount of turnover and now are proud to have many people with 20, 25 and 30 years of experience with our operations. These are the people, along with our newer workforce, who continue to perpetuate and expand upon our opportunities that exist in the utility business today."

What was the best advice you ever received?
"Maintaining your core competency and focusing on what you do best are probably the most important visions I have had since being in business. We have, since the inception of Dueco 50 years ago, maintained our sight on providing the utility industry with an excellent customized product that has been responsive to their needs, and I would like to think that we do it better than our competition. By staying focused, not deviating from what we know best or jumping into alternative opportunities, it affords us stability and continued growth. All of our acquisitions over the years have been structured to that end."

What do you like to do in your free time?
"I enjoy golf and spend a fair amount of time traveling throughout the country and the world. Certainly spending time with our 11 grandchildren is a real treat as they tend to keep you active and on-the-go. I’m involved in several nonprofit community activities which continue to consume a fair amount of time as well."

June 10, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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