Finishes as Polished as its Reputation

D.W. Sales & Keldon Company

Every day, we’re surrounded by the world of injection molding and die cutting. In the auto industry alone, everything from the door panels to the dash, hood, fenders and doors are either produced in an injection mold, or stamped on a die…
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Mold, die and tool manufacturers, listen up. North America’s biggest distributor of boride and other engineered abrasives is here to revolutionize your product finishing. Based in Michigan and Grand Rapids, D.W. Sales’ and Keldon Company’s polishing stones and other finishing products for injection mold, die and tool builders are highly prized by the automotive, aerospace and other industries.

Not only does the company guarantee the best quality products for tool benching and polishing available, but it also offers expert knowledge and advice. D.W. Sales knows its products better than anybody else. The significance of its value proposition is especially appreciated by fabricators who know the struggle involved in sourcing decent finishing tools – something that is surprisingly more common than one would expect. The company serves all of the United States and Canada and also ships its products abroad on request.

President Ted Hand kindly shared with me why D.W. Sales and Keldon Company is one of the best kept secrets in the industry and why his companies’ offering is a game changer for the mold and die manufacturing industry. “We have the inventory here, the availability, the knowledge of how to match products with what customers are doing, whether it’s the hardness range of the metals or different types of steels. We have the knowledge of what abrasives or polish to use,” Ted says. The companies’ different ranges also cater to processing finished tools. Once the tool is finished, it is used to prepare the injection mold; for this, there are releasers, cleaners, and rust preventatives to improve the mold that is being made to fabricate the plastic parts for cars, jets, or other purposes.

D.W. Sales is not only the largest distributor of Boride polishing stones in all of North America, but a Platinum distributor of Slide products, as well as MK Morse, Standard Abrasives and Norton. In fact, the company has received multiple awards for top sales of air tools, profilers and abrasives. It is also one of Standard Abrasives’ biggest distributors.

“It’s one thing to tell the customer what abrasive they need, but someone’s got to work that abrasive and match it to a tool, or a holding pad, or some type of gadget that makes it work. That requires someone who knows what they’re talking about,” explains Ted. At its very core, abrasion is concerned with smoothing out surfaces by essentially replacing large scratches with smaller scratches on a surface until, in the case of a shiny diamond finish, there are no visible scratches left at all. While this may leave the layman with a confused frown, manufacturers understand the value of such quality tools that achieve the finishes they need – especially when it comes to large-scale manufacturing.

Returning to the car example, the elephant hide textures on dashboards are obtained by tooling that grain into an injection mold. Other plastics used in car manufacturing have different textures; some have shiny finishes while others are dull. These textures are all the result of the textures that were tooled into the molds used to cast them in. Importantly, these textures are also coded to ensure universal understanding and communication on the part of standards. “Clients become very frustrated dealing with big national companies whose representatives don’t know what abrasives need to be used with what tools to get the right finish. We solve that problem,” says Ted.

D.W. Sales is the industry go-to when it comes to getting the best finish on tools and dies in the metal working industry. The team is well-acquainted with these frustrations caused in the industry by insufficient knowledge. “Clients can’t find good quality suppliers for benching, polishing, and abrasives, because the suppliers don’t know how to match the products to the air tools they’re using. That’s why D.W. Sales is the best in the industry. We know what we’re talking about,” Ted says. He is a man who takes pleasure in listening and observing. As well as being hands-on, Ted believes in listening more and talking less. It is not uncommon to find him in the warehouse spot-checking orders to make sure that everything is neat, that the inventory is matched, and that systems are working.

The D.W. Sales team consists of 12 very knowledgeable, friendly folk. They enjoy working together – something that reflects in the company culture and in its service delivery. Communication is the team’s biggest secret and their common goal is to keep customers as happy as can be.

The company trades as two separate entities: D.W. Sales operates mainly in the eastern part of the state and was originally named after the lady who started it in 1980. Denise Warren is a dynamic, much-loved and respected character in the industry and well known amongst Detroit’s mold and die shops. Keldon Company operates mainly on the western side of the state in Grand Rapids and was named in 1956 by its founder, who combined his name with his children, Kevin, Ellen, and Linda’s names. Ted chose to keep the company names as this is what customers were familiar with. Both companies performed a similar function and served identical client bases, so it made sense to combine the two. They share a website, www.moldshopsupplies.com, which serves both client bases, and orders are directed automatically, according to the customer’s location. The aim is to eventually operate under this one name, but for now the two names remain. A login and password are needed to use this website; call 248-528-1663 or send an e-mail to admin@dwsales.com.

Before buying the two companies, Ted was in the upper management of an $8 billion company called Brambles Equipment Services Inc., a national equipment rental company headquartered in the United States that was part of Brambles International, an international Australian company. The United States portion of Brambles, Brambles Equipment Services where Ted worked, was sold. He decided that as he enjoyed the industry he would seek out his own company to purchase. He chose to go into distribution and in the process found D.W. Sales, which he took an instant liking to. Later, Ted also bought Keldon during the recession of 2009 and has never looked back. What seemed like a disaster that year when automotive companies started laying off staff turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the two sister companies, when technicians started moving down to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida in search of employment. When these technicians started opening their toolboxes, their customers realized these guys had a few tricks in there that often saved them a number of steps in the tooling process, and they wanted to know where they could also purchase them. As the news of its fantastic product lines spread, D.W. Sales and Keldon Company started getting orders from all over for polishing and abrasive products, air tools, profilers and of course, catalogs. Together with his team, Ted has made both companies more successful than ever thought possible.

His advice to novices is to find out what the customer’s needs are and to then provide them with a solution, service and the best quality product you can find. “That’s what we do. We have the best product lines, and continually train our people to be knowledgeable. We’re committed to offering good customer service. When our clients have questions, they know they can come to us,” he says.

Ted’s advice on dealing with e-commerce is particularly relevant in today’s market. He believes that the mistake many online sales platforms make is not having sufficient in-depth product knowledge. “With distribution, you have to offer knowledgeable support. I believe the more high-tech the offering, the more there’s a need for high touch,” he says. Human engagement is superbly important and that is why more and more clients are turning away from big national distribution companies with online catalogs – because their staff often simply don’t know what they’re selling. They have no expertise in the various tool rooms and on the products used to pass on.

D.W. Sales and Keldon Company enjoy sourcing game-changing products for customers in need of solutions. Ted and his team are well-known for approaching manufacturers to come up with new products, or even to adjust formulations or grit to meet market needs. “A lot of times we are the communicator between the customer and the manufacturer, and once we find something new, it will probably work for half a dozen customers. We spread the good news from flower to flower like bumblebees,” says Ted.

The company is also known for helping manufacturers maintain their own molds, without having to send them back to source when they get scratched or nicked. One such company is a rubber shoe manufacturer in California, whom D.W. Sales saved a fortune in assisting it in repairing its own injection mold surfaces.

The industry is fraught with challenges for customers, making D.W. Sales and Keldon Company knights in diamond-finished armor. Some of these issues include vending machines installed in tool shops that can cause the loss of knowledgeable tool-crib staff at the expense of client satisfaction and industry precision. As nobody is available to offer training in how to use these tools correctly, it creates a negative cycle where knowledge is lost on an even greater scale as there are no mentors to teach new staff on the use and maintenance of these products, causing customers to lose time, money and quality. On the upside, the tide is turning and consumers are beginning to realize the value of vendors like D.W.Sales and Keldon Company, and are returning in droves for personal assistance and knowledgeable advice. The companies offer regular training sessions to manufacturers on how to use their products and Ted often travels with sales representatives to demonstrate tools at customer locations. This allows the team to spread information on how various products can be used in new ways, how lifespan can be extended, and more.

Ted’s vision for the evolution of the company is that of a bumblebee with big wings that can go out and continue to visit its clients far and wide. He wants to expand the company into regions where he can send knowledgeable people to share more information through training. He also wants to expand the product line and take the name MoldShopSupplies.com nationally – especially to places where the companies have no current outlets. “We want to bring the good news and knowledge from flower to flower,” he says. That is indeed good news in a world where being well-polished makes all the difference.