Developing Products from Concept to Reality
From its humble beginnings, launched by two friends from Stanford University, D&K Engineering has grown to become a global leader in end-to-end R&D, product development and manufacturing services for innovative, hardware-based products and equipment.
As a full service turnkey product development and manufacturing services company, D&K Engineering has a strong record for delivering on projects that address specific client needs along the product lifecycle. Companies who engage with D&K Engineering at various points in the product development process subsequently obtain deliverables ranging from concept designs, analysis and prototypes, to fully manufactured end products.
D&K Engineering boasts a number of services including program management, systems engineering, industrial design, mechanical engineering, software / firmware engineering, electrical / electronic engineering, electrical / controls engineering, electromechanical engineering, value engineering, prototyping and sheet metal fabrication, test engineering, and design standards. The company also specializes in contract manufacturing and supply chain management.
Founded by CEO Scott Dennis and President Alex Kunczynski in 1999 in San Diego, the company came about following the pair’s years of experience in product development. Having met in the early 1990s as they both earned Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University (with a specialty in Mechatronics and Smart Product Design), Dennis and Kunczynski first pursued their own career paths after graduating, but ultimately both ended up in Hewlett Packard’s inkjet development organization. One of their responsibilities there was to find companies to help HP develop new products and equipment. In their search, Dennis and Kunczynski realized that quality product development services organizations were hard to find and felt the need to expand on this opportunity. Initially focusing on providing R&D services for businesses, the company gradually grew to provide product development, product engineering, and manufacturing.
CEO Scott Dennis spoke about D&K Engineering, its growth over the years, and what makes the company unique.
“Our company provides end-to-end product realization services for high-innovation content products,” Mr. Dennis explains. “We work with our clients from the whiteboard through the product lifecycle – from concept development, prototyping, testing and on to the manufacturing process itself. The design and manufacturing services industry is fairly broken up and segmented – from large contract manufacturers on one end of the spectrum who do very little R&D to smaller, boutique R&D companies on the other end of the spectrum that are only focused on engineering, but do very little manufacturing. It’s very unusual to find a company that truly provides both world class R&D and manufacturing services under one roof.”
Today, D&K Engineering employs over 300 people at its headquarters in San Diego and over 520 people worldwide, including offices in Singapore. The company’s list of clients includes some of the most prominent names in the Fortune 500. About 61 percent of D&K Engineers have over 20 years of experience in their fields, and together they developed hundreds of patents on behalf of clients.
The company has been one of the fastest growing companies in San Diego and has undergone a tremendous amount of growth, particularly over the last five years.
Mr. Dennis credits the diversity of clientele that D&K Engineering works with for its growth and success. “Our company works across a lot of industry segments,” he says. “That makes our company robust to ups and downs in the market due to our diversification strategy. Broadly speaking, we work with companies of all sizes, from startups to multi-nationals, focusing on industries where a high rate of innovation is occurring.”
The diversity of its clientele in economically strong sectors has enabled D&K Engineering’s marketing and expertise to be applied to a number of markets including industrial & commercial, kiosks, printing (both 2D and 3D), medical & life sciences as well as military and defense.
“In general, the economy is slowly strengthening,” says Mr. Dennis. “Our business is a leading indicator, and over the last three years, there has been a strong uptick in demand overall for our innovation and manufacturing services. The demand uptick we have seen is broad-based, crossing all of our life science, medical, and technology segments. There has been a particularly rapid growth in companies searching for applications of technology to medical and life science problems that can be solved.”
D&K Engineering has a number of training programs to help its clients apply best practices in designing, manufacturing, and the ideation involved in product development. Mr. Dennis credits the company’s culture and core values to making the company grow successfully. “We put a lot of effort into instilling core values across our company, and making sure we live up to those ideals internally and externally,” he shares. “We also heavily emphasize a number of cultural elements that make the product realization business successful – entrepreneurial spirit, collaboration, and an appreciation for high quality work, to name a few.”
D&K Engineering’s core values and guiding principles are critical to the operations of the company, its clients, partners and employees. These core values include a commitment to the success of clients by delivering the innovative solutions and services required to solve real problems and provide unparalleled levels of customer service that exceed clients’ expectations on every project. Performing outstanding work that expands upon the creativity and knowledge of D&K employees, hiring the best and brightest talent and maximizing their professional development, relentlessly pursuing continuous improvement and being held accountable to commitments are other core values to which D&K Engineering adheres.
“We are a company that tries to live up to our core values every day,” Mr. Dennis emphasizes. “It’s more than just putting words to paper; training people and translating [that training] to everyday action is a constant process. Having a very structured and ongoing strategic planning process, we’ve invested heavily in our team for last four to five years to ensure continued success in line with economic and business trends.”
This adherence to principles and core values has helped D&K Engineering build strong relationships with its clients. “At the end of the day, we’re a relationship company. Our clients have to walk away from us saying ‘Wow, those guys did wonderful work; I got great value for what we spent with the company.’ It is important to create great designs and be great to work with along the way. The overall engagement has to be positive. We’re proud to say generally, our relationships have grown in size and have lasted many years in breadth. We also have deep partnerships in hundreds of commodity types in different areas of the globe and create a supply chain that can be customized depending on the client.”
D&K Engineering has a strong portfolio of products that the team has developed and manufactured for clients over the years. From kiosks to medical devices, printers, traffic enforcement equipment, microscopic lenses, and chip handlers, the company’s vast array of products have strengthened its reputation. “Many of the products we’ve designed have won major awards,” Mr. Dennis shares, “including the 2014 gold medical design excellence award.”
Another innovative product D&K Engineering was involved in designing and developing was the ecoATM Kiosk. The kiosk is an automated self-serve kiosk system that people can use to trade in their electronic devices, particularly smartphones. The ecoATM gives customers the ability to get paid in cash, and automatically administers promotions for retailers and manufacturers.
Looking ahead, D&K Engineering plans to expand and grow by establishing itself in key markets where innovation in R&D is taking place – such as the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston. “We are also opening more manufacturing facilities and scaling the company in general. We will continue to develop domain depths, additional industry verticals and invest in emerging markets as they come along.”
Over the last 15 years, D&K Engineering has grown to become one of the most innovative companies in the Product Realization Services industry by servicing a number of verticals that gives the company a diverse clientele. “Working directly with our partners throughout the product realization process can be one of the most cost-effective, fastest time-to-market methods to bring innovative products to market,” Mr. Dennis says. He emphasizes that, “The way that products are being brought to market is evolving. D&K Engineering offers a compelling solution to those companies who are looking to create successful lines of business around high-innovation content, hardware-based products, and to accelerate their time to market by working with an external partner to make their product ideas a reality.”