DTE makes tough products that span human life, but spanning foreign competition was tougher

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DTE, Inc. provides custom automation and tooling for a wide variety of industries — automotive and agricultural, medical and pharmaceutical and consumer products that span life.

“We’re diverse,” says Cindy Jones, DTE controller and CFO. “We can design and build an automated piece of equipment for almost any company to use in their manufacture of a product, from diapers to tires to motorcycle parts. We also build fixtures and tooling capable of stamping out metal parts — a base for a lawnmower, a casket lid, you name it.”

DTE logo

DTE’s five key business segments are automation, tool and die, fixtures, remanufacturing and parts and service. Their client list is a who’s who of industry — Corning, Whirlpool, Mitsubishi Electric and John Deere, among others — and has been for more than 80 years since the firm’s founding as Detroit Tool & Engineering by a Lebanon native to serve the Motor City’s automotive and other industries.

The firm’s success was imperiled in the 21st century, however, as DTE began experiencing increased foreign competition.

So the firm turned to TAAF. DTE was referred to the five-year cost-sharing program by Dusty Cruise, president and CEO of BDP partner Missouri Enterprise, the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.

Jones and DTE began working with TAAC in early 2015. Now, a bit more than a year into the program, Jones says she has almost depleted the grant funds.

That’s a good thing.

It means that Jeannine Goodrich, project manager, TAAF, was able to help Jones and DTE navigate the often complex application process, clear obstacles and ensure funds were used promptly to make the changes to keep DTE vital.

“Jeannine has been my project manager since Day One,” says Jones. “She’s wonderful! She makes everything so seamless, so simple.”

Jones says she was wary of the program at first, with its lengthy rules, deadlines and complexity — “I thought, ‘Oh man, this will be so time-consuming.’ But it really hasn’t been. Jeannine handles everything so well.”

The funds helped DTE update its website, sales and marketing efforts, software and leadership training, among other projects. The sparkling new website stands out in an often drab industry with a clean crisp look; rotating images; colorful, high-resolution pictures; success stories and even webinars.

With their new marketing software, Jones says the firm’s sales and marketing staff can now see who’s clicking on the site, what they are clicking on and if they might want to order a part or tool. The new software also integrates blogging and keeps track of all quotes, contacts, customers and sales — “all the different strategies that keep us visible,” she says. SEO built around DTE’s five key business segments has been particularly fruitful, she says. And a new die design software program for DTE’s engineers dramatically accelerates the firm’s design capabilities.

All this is very good news for the firm’s roughly 110 employees, generating revenues of about $20 million a year and known for its stability. Jones herself will celebrate 20 years this year; seven employees currently have more than 40 years of service.

All in all, she says DTE has made the jump to the digital, social media-driven business world nearly flawlessly, with TAAF help.

“TAAC has definitely contributed to our bottom line,” she says.

DTE warehouseDTE manufacturing facilities provide custom automation and tooling for a wide variety of industries.