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D&K Engineering Inc.: An Innovative Product Realization Engine
D&K Engineering Inc. (D&K) was founded by Scott Dennis and Alex Kunczynski – CEO and president of D&K, respectively – in 1999 to assist companies across public and private sectors in successfully developing truly innovative products. Encompassing all aspects of research and development, D&K’s extensive technical knowledge and global manufacturing capabilities creates sustainable business value for each client. It is D&K’s ability to continually evolve and mobilize its multidisciplinary engineering and manufacturing teams that result in the creation of outstanding products.
“We see ourselves as an innovation and product realization engine, which can be applied across a variety of industries,” states Dennis. The company’s founders met while earning master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. After graduation, the pair parted ways only to meet once again while working at Hewlett-Packard, and within a few years D&K was born.
Flexibility and Functionality
The duo’s modern mentality and constant strive for perfection has brought the San Diego, Calif.-based company to where it stands today. D&K proudly offers clients across many market sectors the ability to outsource research and development, which for many is a cost-effective alternative to investing in an in-house product development team.
In order to meet the manufacturing needs of its clients the company maintains a manufacturing facility in San Diego. However, D&K’s reach doesn’t end there. The company also has an engineering and manufacturing facility in Singapore as well as a sheet-metal fabrication facility in China, totaling over 520 employees worldwide.
D&K’s core markets include life sciences and medical devices, printing, kiosks, military as well as the industrial and commercial sectors. Rather than focusing on any single product and sector, D&K specializes in the development of various products that require a significant amount of innovation to successfully commercialize. In these cases D&K’s worldwide network of talent can be mobilized to specifically address the unique needs of each individual client.
“We engineer and design all of our products with an eye for manufacturing, which not only streamlines the product development process, but it also helps us to make sure the product can be cost-effectively manufactured,” expands Dennis. In fact, D&K has grown its engineering team by hiring a diverse array of professionals with a high level of expertise.
And the growth doesn’t stop there. D&K’s research and development team has also continued to flourish over the years by hiring experts in industrial design, program management, electromechanical engineering, electrical and controls engineering, prototyping, value engineering and testing.
Building a Strong Foundation
The business of product development is long-term by nature, which contributes to the establishment of very longstanding relationships with clients. Collaboration and innovation are cornerstones of D&K’s corporate culture, complimented by a strong belief in confidentiality and accountability. “We simply cannot afford to be in competition with our clients,” says Dennis. “That is why even though our engineers are listed on the patents, the intellectual property we create belongs entirely to our clients.”
D&K began working with longtime client ecoATM while the product was still in its infancy. The two companies met through the CommNexus Incubator Program, EvoNexus. Since that first encounter, the team at D&K worked closely with ecoATM to develop and refine a self-service kiosk that would serve as a consolidated collection point in the reuse and resale of consumer electronics. D&K continues to collaborate with the ecoATM team and now manufactures its products at scale.
The kiosks use patented, highly specialized machine vision systems, electronic diagnostics and artificial intelligence to evaluate the condition of a mobile device such as an iPod, and then searches the world for the highest possible price. The consumer then receives a cash offer, and if accepted receives cash on the spot. The mobile device is sold then resold through a network of reputable second party dealers, which are required to erase all personal data on the device before reselling. Consumers submit a driver’s license and thumbprint to the ecoATM kiosk, which is then encrypted to protect the identity of the customer.
“The ecoATM kiosk is a very complex product,” explains Dennis. “We refined the product to increase its reliability and functionality, while also driving down costs.” Not only was D&K able to assist in making the ecoATM kiosk a viable product, but the company managed to deliver a working prototype within six months.
D&K has also helped develop groundbreaking products in fully mature industries, with the most recent example being Memjet. D&K previously developed products for companies like Hewlett-Packard and Phogenix Imaging, a joint venture between Hewlett-Packard and Eastman Kodak. However, the Memjet product represents a major break from traditional inkjet printing technologies.
Memjet technology utilizes a patented waterfall printing technology, which in turn uses a stationary print head to drop millions of ink drops per second, yielding high-quality prints in just seconds. “Memjet was one of the most technically challenging products we have ever worked on,” says Dennis. “We worked closely with Memjet who recently introduced a wide format version of this innovative technology at a German trade show in 2012 that can print a poster-sized color image in four seconds.”
Though the D&K name might not appear on the products the company helps develop, its name appears on hundreds of patents. This has allowed D&K to receive a significant amount of attention in the past few years. D&K climbed from number 2,066 on the 2010 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies to land at number 974 in 2011, with a three-year growth rate of 374 percent. In addition, both Dennis and Kunczynski were nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the San Diego chapter in 2011, becoming semi-finalists that year, as well as finalists and winners in 2012.
Behind the scenes D&K also strives to promote organizations that support youth development as well as foster curiosity and education in math and science. The company donates to various math, science and robotics programs in addition to Dennis joining the board of directors of Greater San Diego’s Boys and Girls Club.
“Over the past few years we have made a very concentrated effort to invest in scalability,” adds Dennis. “We went out to recruit and hire the highest caliber senior management and brought in some really fantastic people to support the growth of a global company that will be sustainable for the long-term.” Together the D&K team provides a cost-efficient, expedient alternative in research and development and manufacturing, cementing D&K Engineering Inc.’s reputation as an innovative product realization engine.