Dynabrade has built itself into a toolmaking powerhouse, selling its products through more than 600 industrial distributors in the United States and more than 100 others in Canada.
The Clarence-based company is using its widespread presence to raise money for cancer research through a campaign built around one of its products.
Dynabrade is selling a pink version of its popular Spirit Random Orbital Sander, which usually comes in teal. For every one of the pink “Spirit of Hope” tools ordered in the U.S. and Canada through Mother’s Day on May 12, the company is donating $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It is also donating $1 to the foundation for every pink sanding pad ordered.
The campaign began on Valentine’s Day, providing for about a three-month fundraising window. Ned T. Librock, Dynabrade’s president, said he has no idea how much money the campaign will raise, but he is enthusiastic about it and confident it will be successful. “It’s uncharted territory for us,” he said.
Dynabrade has been around since 1969, when Walter N. Welsch founded the business, and it has blossomed into a company offering more than 800 abrasive power tools, plus accessories and abrasives. Welsch remains chief executive officer and chairman, while Librock was named president in late 2011.
According to company history, Welsch was working as a 3M abrasives salesman in the mid-1960s when he visited a plant and saw a woman struggling to file holes in the aluminum casting for a jukebox grill. Welsch imagined a product – which would become the Dynafile abrasive belt tool – that could do the job faster.
Dynabrade has developed an array of products used in a variety of industrial applications. The company’s original catalog consisted of 12 pages; the most recent edition was 316 pages.
U.S.-based manufacturers face plenty of overseas competition, but Librock says Dynabrade markets its products as sturdy and reliable, with good customer service to back them up, even if they are not the cheapest on the market. “We can gain market share by reacting faster than the competition,” he said.
Part of Dynabrade’s strategy involves keeping an ample supply of its products on its shelves, typically ready to ship within two days of receiving the order. “We look at inventory as a customer service mechanism,” he said.
Hope’s Windows in Jamestown, a custom maker of steel and bronze doors and windows, has Dynabrade tools throughout its operations. Rachel Caprino, procurement specialist for the company, said the products’ durability is a plus. “It’s not just about how much you’re going to spend [on tools],” she said.
Caprino has also found Dynabrade responsive to Hope’s needs whenever any issues come up, and she likes the fact that Dynabrade is a U.S.-based company.
Gary Lojacono, Dynabrade’s manager of marketing communications, said the “Made-in-America” label resonates with a number of other domestic customers, as well as some overseas customers.
And even though some of Dynabrade’s competitors are billion-dollar companies, Librock said the Clarence-based company is focused on tools, rather than a variety of business lines. “We tend to our own knitting and know what we do best.”
Dynabrade does not disclose its annual sales figures, but sets a target of 10 percent sales growth each year. It has about 160 employees at its Sheridan Drive location, and an additional 100 employees elsewhere.
Exporting has helped fuel Dynabrade’s growth. It sells 50 percent of its products outside the United States and reaches into more than 90 countries. The company has international offices in Luxembourg, Brazil and India.
Librock said the company has built a strong distribution network, and that new product development is important. The company kept investing in research and development during the recession and has a well-established network to draw ideas from. “We get a lot of feedback from our sales team around the world.”
Dynabrade sends representatives to about 10 to 20 trade shows per year to bolster its products’ visibility, targeting different industry segments. At least once a month, the company rents space at a hotel in a different metro area to hold tool clinics for distributor sales personnel. And it is developing online training programs to share knowledge about Dynabrade tools and how to repair them.
Librock said early response to its fundraising campaign is encouraging – and if all goes well, it might be expanded into even more countries.