DSH Stystems Ltd

Taking a Kiwi innovation to the world

  • When Trevor and Judi Schwass developed the DSH Systems Ltd, they had no idea just how successful their new innovation would be.
  • After saturating their modest New Zealand market, the Schwass’ soon realised to truly reap the rewards of their investment, they needed to start looking for new markets offshore.
  • With little experience of going it alone in business, entering their product into another country was a brave move.
  • Judi shares their biggest challenges and how they took DSH Systems to the world.

 

DSH systems are truly unique. There’s nothing of this kind in the world. How did you develop this innovative system?

“DSH Systems evolved to solve a worldwide engineering problem: controlling product fallout while bulk loading dry goods,” says Judi. “We first developed our hopper when Trevor was contracting for a Ravensdown Fertiliser plant in Hawke’s Bay. They needed to suppress the dust while loading as the lack of visibility was really dangerous with staff, trucks and front-end loaders working in the murk – an accident was waiting to happen. So Trevor, who’s an engineer by trade, developed the DSH System to help Ravensdown mitigate this risk.”

“Our system is unique because the innovative DSH loading spouts concentrates the stream of product into a solid column, minimising dust outfall, saving wastage and contributing to a safer and healthier working environment,” says Judi. “Our key point of difference is that we use no utilities and have no internal moving parts – resulting in easier installation, less product loss and degradation and lower maintenance costs”.

Why did you decide to take DSH Systems to other global markets?

“Our market in New Zealand is very limited as there are only two major fertiliser companies, Ravensdown and Balance Agri–Nutrients. After Ravensdown Fertiliser and Ballance Agri-Nutrients so quickly took on the technology as a standard for their industry our focus shifted to global expansion and further development of the DSH System, this development and designing engineered solutions for our clients is Trevor’s role”, says Judi.

“While servicing DSH systems keeps us busy, we realised in order to fully capitalise on our innovation, we needed to refocus our efforts on installing more systems. The only way we could do this was to look to new markets offshore.”

Which overseas market did you decide to take on first?

“We decided to expand into Australia first,” explains Judi. “This was relatively simple because we had someone approach us about distributing DSH Systems on our behalf. One of the best outcomes of this is our distributor tested our system on a few other products such as grains, cotton seed, soybeans etc and discovered it worked on them too and not just fertiliser which immediately widened our market. This is quite exciting as it means we have the potential to widen our scope.”

You’re now selling in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. What challenges have you had to overcome to achieve this?

“Finding distributors in several countries hasn’t been easy. Most people we approached didn’t believe in DSH systems because they simply thought it wasn’t possible to create technology which could contain free falling dust, without the use of electricity – it seemed too simple to be true,” says Judi. “We’d show them pictures of our systems and they thought we were using some kind of trick photography! It’s taken a lot of hard work and education to show people that it does work and to change established thinking around bulk loading.”

“At first it was a bit overwhelming for us,” remembers Judi. “We started as a small engineering business in Napier, which Trevor and I ran with no marketing or sales experience. Suddenly we needed to know how to export and how to manage relationships and arrangements with distributors. It’s been a huge learning curve.”

“We’re lucky we have a global key client based in the US who’s helping to take DSH systems to new markets in France, Morocco, and Romania. Once it’s established in one country, other people hear about it and they want us to bring it to them, so it’s grown very quickly.”

You’ve achieved a huge amount in such a short period of time. What do you attribute your success too?

“I think hard work pays,” says Judi. “Now we’re operating in global markets, we never stop working. We need to monitor our emails at all hours just so we can stay on top of things.”

“We’ve also had some amazing people who’ve helped us along the way. Tony Pattison (partner at PwC Hawkes Bay) has been with us for several years now. We’re very grateful for the good advice he’s given us over the years. He’s helped us with a range of things, like setting up our key client accounts, and reminded us to do things we never even thought of! His advice has been invaluable and helped us to get our business to this point.”

“Our next challenge is expanding into Asia and China and while we’re being careful not to overextend ourselves, we’ve taken on another full time employee with the commercial skills to help us take our business to the next level. We’re very excited about what lies ahead!”

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