Dekker Vacuum Technologies: Growth and Innovation with a Little Help from the EDCMC

By: Andrew Rowe Last Updated: August 2, 2016

Dekker-Vacuum-TechnologiesDekker Vacuum Technologies, a Michigan City-based company, has been in the vacuum pump industry for over 18 years. They combine a hard-working and dedicated staff with a talented management team to deliver the industry’s highest level of service and technological expertise.

Dekker Vacuum is led by CEO Rick Dekker, whose father started in the business in the mid-60’s before moving to South Africa, where Rick was born. Dekker’s father was working in the vacuum industry in South Africa as well before immigrating to the States where he would continue in the industry until founding Dekker Vacuum Technologies with Rick in 1998.

“We founded the company in 1998 and today we have 65 employees,” Dekker said. “Our primary market is North America but we also have been working on expanding our business into Latin America.”

The science behind vacuum is something that is not broadly understood by most people outside of the industries in which the technology is utilized, yet our modern world and economy revolves around the use of the technology.

“Vacuum is a relatively unknown utility,” said Dekker. “It’s used in, I would say, 85% of manufacturing and service industries out there. It’s used in everything from making furniture and generating power to chemical plants for oil and gas, and food and beverage. You name it and it’s out there.”

To educate people about the industry and how vacuum works, Dekker has introduced Vacuum University which includes videos that cover the basics and describe the uses of vacuum technology.

“It (Vacuum University) serves multiple purposes,” said Dekker. “I did some research and found that there is very little training out there for vacuum. Because it is so unknown we started this initiative where we start from the most basic levels that describe uses of vacuum. That allows our employees to get an understanding so when their families ask them ‘you work at a vacuum company? What do you make vacuum cleaners?’ So now they have something they can relate to that explains what we do.”

“It’s designed for the most basic instruction to the more advanced type of instruction related to vacuum applications. These modules will be used for future generations and new hires for when they come in so they can learn how certain applications work. A big part of it too is really to educate our customers because a lot of times they might not understand vacuum. It makes it difficult for them to understand what technology they need and it’s my goal to help them be better educated so they can make more informed purchasing decisions.”

Dekker has resided in Michigan City since 1979 and, for Dekker Vacuum, being established in the Midwest has helped them to be more centrally located to customers and resources.

“When we started the business it made sense for us to be located here. It’s a good location from the standpoint of logistics and climate, although it does get cold here in the winter!”

Dekker Vacuum’s recent expansion of their facility was helped on through their working with Clarence Hulse and the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City.

“We worked with Clarence (Hulse) during our recent expansion,” said Dekker. “We’re in an older building so it was pretty easy for us to open up more space. We recently added 36K sq/ft of space to our existing 45K sq/ft. We worked with Clarence on incentives and things like that, and I also serve on the board of the EDC. He’s doing a great job and we’re looking forward to the benefits of that hard work.”

Part of the reason that Dekker Vacuum needed to expand was because they are now getting into much larger projects with much larger equipment.

“We’re building vacuum systems with up to 1500 horsepower and we’re talking 60K pounds in weight. These are big pumps that are used in paper mills, mining and power plants.”

“Part of the reason for our recent success has come from a gentleman that I promoted internally,” said Dekker. “His name is Charlie Mitchell and I promoted him to president. He’s my right hand man and I kinda bring in the vision and he helps with the execution. In addition, we’ve got a great team of employees. A lot of what we do is highly engineered systems. We sell standard products but we also do a lot of custom solutions so we have a full engineering staff who works on that.”

To find out more about Dekker Vacuum Technologies, check out their website here!