Diamond Vogel is Committed to Innovation
This article was written by Sarah Weber as part of the 2023 Orange City Vibrant Magazine.
On Wednesday, Sept 13, Diamond Vogel unveiled the Innovation Center to the Orange City community. The 36,000-square-foot building project began in 2021, with a groundbreaking ceremony in October, but Diamond Vogel has been committed to innovation for much longer. Director of Human Resources David Vander Werff remembers, “When I was first hired 32 years ago, I remember Drew Vogel walking me through the technical center explaining how Diamond Vogel invests dollars in research and development to make formulas specific to customer needs, and this is still very true today.”
The Building will house research and development and a testing group. All of our Orange City research and development will now be under one roof,” said Brent Philipsen, Corporate Technical Director. The new space will be open and inviting, initially housing 31 people comfortably in designated workspaces, with room to add additional employees. Intentional spaces were also created for customers to see innovation in progress but in a safer way than previously walking into lab spaces. Windows with glass panes are throughout the space, creating light and openness in the space.
Previously, the team was divided into four separate places on the Diamond Vogel campus. The new space will give more opportunity to cross-train into different areas, something unavailable in the past. “we strive to create products that can meet and exceed customer needs.” Philipsen said. “One example, historically, is that the type of salt used on the roads was made of calcium chloride, and years ago moved toward magnesium chloride. This change caused the method of corrosion on trailers to change, too. We were able to redesign products and reformulate pain to last longer based on the new salt. The Innovation Center will take problems like this and find solutions every day. And with the technical teams of liquid, powder, and testing all under the same roof, communication between the three groups will increase. “We just built the building, It will be interesting to see it in action and how the teams will grow moving forward,” Vander Werff said.
Many customers have unique formulas with specific properties unique to them and their product line. Our teams look at color, UV protectant, environmental protectant, water and moisture, interior or exterior, and other factors when designing specific formulas for whatever the customer’s needs are,” Vander Werff said. “The process takes the work of chemists, lab technicians, an entire team each time a new formula is created, and in this facility, it can now all happen in one place.”
The Innovation Center was originally scheduled to be completed in January of 2023, but shipping delays and supply chain issues caused a number of things to be pushed back. “we had a new computer system going in also, so we gave contractors some extra time, and now everything is complete together,” Vander Werff Added.
With Liquid, powder, and testing labs now in the process of moving out of three different buildings into one, this will free up space in other buildings. “this step will now be looking at those vacated spaces and redoing them,” Vander Werff said.
The ribbon cutting gave the community a glimpse in to everyday operations at Diamond Vogel. The open concept and the glass windows allowed visitors and culture customers to view the work as it is happening without stepping foot into testing areas.
“The spaces will create new jobs, ” Vander Weff said. We haven’t been hiring because we haven’t had the space. This will open up and give room to expand, not only physically but by headcount as the need arises.”