This week’s spotlight is on Diversitech founder, Marvin Simms. We learn about how he started Diversitech, the changes he’s seen over the last 35 years and how he envisions the company evolving in the future.
Q: What was your original inspiration and vision back in 1984 when you first started the company?
A: Having had some previous experience selling air filtration systems to discotheques and bars for cigarette smoke I felt that there was a bigger, more diverse opportunity in the industrial manufacturing world. So the inspiration came from understanding that industrial companies needed to find solutions for dust, smoke and fume problems.
Q: What were your biggest challenges in starting Diversitech?
A: The biggest challenges in the beginning were finding financing and support. Then there was also the development of new products and all the risks associated with that. It was a real challenge to find the right people qualified to help with the actual product development. I had a good idea as to the sort of products that were needed but I didn’t have all the necessary skill sets from the manufacturing side to bring the products to market.
Q: How did you overcome these challenges?
A: It was trial and error. I did find and consult with a few individuals to work with- other companies who were able to provide part-time assistance. Again, the problem was financing. I really didn’t have the money to hire full-time engineering people to join the company so I had to go out and sort of beg and borrow people’s engineering times. And through some individual contacts that I had, I was able to put together a team. But again, it was sort of on a part-time basis and contracting the work out to bring the very first products to market.
Q: Did you ever imagine Diversitech would grow to be the size it is today?
A: In the beginning you don’t really think that far down the road. It’s more about surviving the next week and the next month- making sure to sleep properly because you knew the bank was going to be calling you- watching and trying to find out if you were meeting your financial responsibilities. So, to be honest, no - it didn’t really come to mind.
Q: But later on, did it?
A: Yeah, much later on.
Q: How has the company evolved over the last 35 years, besides the growth of course?
A: By continuing to listen to our customers and to understand how the market itself has changed so dramatically. Back when we started I had one product that addressed one particular application and that was welding fume. But by listening well and understanding how the market changed we were able to stay ahead of the curve and look at new products based on how the industry was changing as a whole.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Well on a personal level, I’m most proud of having given my two sons an opportunity to join me and participate fully in the business. And secondly, to have provided jobs and opportunities for all the other people who currently work with the company.
Lastly I’m proud that we provide products that address health and safety concerns. You know, we run a business that’s for profit; it’s certainly important that we make money. But it’s also nice to know that we provide a safe, environmentally-friendly product that helps people stay healthy.
Q: What would you attribute to Diversitech’s success?
A: The people who have helped make Diversitech the company it is today. Whereas I started the company and am the founder of the business, there is no way that I could have done this on my own. It’s a partnership, certainly with (my sons) Jared and Andrew. Without them the business would not be where it is today. And certainly everybody else who has contributed- from engineering to design to product support. It’s about a family of people working together. I just play a small part in that.
Q: What do you think the future holds for Diversitech? Where do you see the company going?
A: Based on the very recent acquisition of our business, I think the company is poised for significant international growth. Our new owners’ company is certainly an international player. So I think we are going to see significant growth internationally while continuing to bring new products to the market as we have in the past.