Dan Marr manages the engineering department for Houston fire protection company Advantage Interests, Inc. He's worked there since 2000, and his responsibilities include supporting technical sales and managing the project designers who make recommendations on equipment use. He also provides technical support to customers who have technical questions that the designers may not be able to answer.
Dan, what are the typical problems you're asked to solve?
I am called on regularly by clients to review code-related issues, such as what are the codes in the US? Or what are the codes in Africa, Australia. We maintain a large technical library for references to codes related to fire protection throughout the world.
Why do you partner with DMS?
I became acquainted with DMS in the early 90s while I was working for another fire protection company doing the same job. DMS represented a product that we purchased, and we would contact them for quotes on product as well as tap into their knowledge. They probably have a better knowledge than I do on gas sensor technology. And that's how we became acquainted.
We do business with DMS primarily because of their their knowledge of the industry. There are other people that manufacture products that they represent and we do buy them. However, DMS is often our go to vendor. When we call them to ask a question about something, we get a complete answer.
They are better versed technically in the products that they carry than their competitors. Often if we run into a problem with a product that we carry, we present the problem to them. They look out for our interests rather than trying to make sure they generate a sale out of it. So sometimes their recommendations and solutions are not something they carry. So the other reason we call them is because they're honest.
Can you share an example of a time you relied on DMS to help you a customer?
We had a a grain silo in Port Arthur that needed off-gassing of products, particularly carbon monoxide, in an environment that most sensors can't handle. And together we came up with a solution—even though we didn't end up buying the solution from DMS. Later they advised us that when they have projects like this they often subcontract some of the fabrication. So through their introduction, we contacted the sub and utilized their services to do fabrication for us. We got good information from DMS, even though it didn't end up generating a sale for them. That's a great example of how they gave us good advice and made our life easier, even though it didn't benefit them.
What else is different about working with DMS vs. other rep firms?
I'll tell you what I usually tell a lot of companies that are looking for somebody to represent their product. I send them to DMS. They're the type of a company that looks at a product and becomes well versed in it, to the point where they take the product home and experiment with it–try a few things–and find out the good and the bad about it before they're willing to put their name behind it.
They're a rep firm that stands behind what they sell–which isn't always the case with many rep firms. Most rep firms carry a variety of products from valves to solenoids switches to power supplies–just a variety of things. But DMS focuses predominantly on safety-related products in the fire and gas industry. Where their competition has salesmen whose sole goal is to generate revenue, sales reps are often not as technically versed in the products they're selling as the people at DMS.
DMS is a rep firm that offers a good level of technical expertise to manufacturers who are selling in the fire and gas industry. They're just a quality company in that regard, and they do their customers and suppliers a fantastic service by limiting the focus on the fire and gas and not worrying about the valves and the other things.
I constantly tell people that they're the best in Houston. I know manufacturers are competitors, and I'm very close with some of their competitors. But DMS is among the top people that I make referrals to when people come to me with technical questions.