SHERIDAN — Sometimes creating highly advanced, ground-breaking technology isn't enough to create a highly successful, profitable company. That's something the founders of Laramie-based DeltaNu discovered after launching a business in 1998 that creates Raman spectrometers.
The company was originally created by Keith Carron, a University of Wyoming chemistry professor who wanted to build his own Raman spectrometer, a device commonly used in chemistry to measure vibrational information specific to the chemical bond's symmetry of molecules, providing a fingerprint by which a molecule can be identified. Carron with the help of an electrical engineer and mechanical engineer created one of the first small-scale Raman spectrometers.
"DeltaNu has been among the first companies to shrink the Raman spectrometer," said Tony Nevshemal, the company's chief operating officer during a presentation at an e2e event in Gillette on Tuesday evening.
But even with several million dollars in grant funds secured, it wasn't long before the company was struggling with customer service, delivery of the product and even tracking all the parts and pieces that went into the product. In 2006, Nevshemal came on board to help the company iron out the problem areas.
"I mapped out the company," Nevshemal said. "You have to understand your company before you start analyzing it."
As Nevshemal mapped out the company, he began to see room for improvement. He helped create a process to build the spectrometers and established systems to address problem areas, including part replacements and customer service.
"We're able to make sure all of our employees are trained," Nevshemal said. "Our employees are tested every six months on their ability. Our technicians are quite empowered."
Today, Nevshemal said the employees have ownership of the process, everyone is trained and a quality process has been established. And the company has seen some quality results since then. Now the company has 100 percent on-time delivery and an inventory of products.
"Now we have traceability, accountability and quality," Nevshemal said. "There's complete company buy-in — every employee is truly responsible for a process. Now we have control over every aspect of manufacturing and engineering."
By implementing a few solid processes, giving the employees ownership of the work they produce, and keeping on top of the sales forecast, Nevshemal said the company has been able to turn around in just four to five years' time.
"We used to have customers upset with us all the time," Nevshemal said. "RMAs [Return Merchandise Authorizations] are decreasing as most of the issues are resolved by phone and instruments are serviceable by online meeting."
Now with a full-time customer service technician and all the other changes, Delta Nu has been able to focus more on new product development and getting their products into the hands of customers world-wide. Nevshemal hopes to see wide use of the company's products in assisting police departments in identifying substances in narcotics cases to aiding pharmaceutical companies in the creation of new medicines. With a price tag of about $25,000 to $50,000, DeltaNu's products offer a cost- and time-saving way to identify a variety of substances. And while the technology to create the product is complicated, the outcome of using it is simple, Nevshamal said.
"They (customers) know it's a black box that gives them the answer they want," Nevshemal said. "They used to have to send [a mystery substance] to the lab and wait to get the information back."
With the transformation of the company, Nevshemal said it has its sights set on being a world leader in Raman spectrometer production from its Laramie home-base.
"Right now DeltaNu is all grown up," Nevshemal said.
Part of that transformation included being acquired by Inteval Inc. in 2007. While the acquisition helped DeltaNu during a time of struggle, Nevshemal said the arrangement has not been exactly what was originally agreed upon or expected. Today Nevshemal offers a little advice to others considering a similar merger.
"There are cultural differences that shouldn't be minimized," Nevshemal said. "Don't get lost in the dollar signs. You need to look at how the company is going to be run after."
Nevshemal will be presenting again in Sheridan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Black Tooth Brewing Company. For more information, visit http://www.uwyo.edu/wtbc/ancillary_pages/tony_nevshemal_joint.html#sthash.04f3OqAQ.dpuf
For more Daily news click here and look under 'Breaking News'