As a retail merchandising solutions provider, Diam International is vertically integrated, controlling every step of the process and offering a range of services from strategic planning through manufacturing and installation. Gene Newman reports.
Diam USA is a retail merchandising, single-source solutions provider, offering a range of services from strategic analysis through design, manufacturing and logistics. “With vertically integrated operations and global resources, we can provide first-class retail merchandising solutions in a consistent manner anywhere in the world,” said Diam International CEO Bill Ecker.
Diam USA became the official name of the company in 2002, having successfully completed its integration into Diam International, now the only truly international firm in its field. The company is owned by Heritage Partners, Inc. of Boston, a specialized investment fund with more than $1.4 billion under management and an aggregation of companies with more than $1.6 billion in sales and 12,000 employees in North America and Europe. Included is a diversified portfolio of 17 investments in the point-of-purchase advertising industry with total revenues exceeding $400 million. Having experience with both retailers and marketers has given the company an understanding into points of view of both retail and brand strategy. With headquarters in New York City, Diam International oversees four divisions. Diam USA and Diam Europe, about equal in size, handle design, engineering, manufacturing and warehousing. FieldFlex USA and FieldFlex Europe teams are engaged in field work including display installation, maintenance and recycling.
A ONE-STOP PROVIDER
“We handle every aspect of reaching an optimum merchandising solution,” Ecker said. ‘We are a vertically integrated company.” This seamless process is unique in an industry in which point-of-purchase floor stands, kiosks and wall systems often are installed only after a long, complicated series of loosely integrated steps beginning with strategic analysis by design firms; planning, and manufacturing by others, and distribution, installation and maintenance by still others. This “too many cooks” method has been eliminated by Diam, which has more than 1.5 million square feet of production space in eight facilities in Europe and North America. Diam services include every aspect of display design and production with direct distribution worldwide and on-site maintenance.
THE DIAM EXPERIENCE
Diam services begin with preliminary discussions with clients concerning their retail needs and the opportunities available for fulfillment. At this juncture Diam recommends a disciplined, strategic approach to discover marketing insights of consumer behavior at the point-of-sale. Pertinent questions are asked and objectives set to optimize sales. Finally, a retail strategy is created. One or more design teams are assigned to the project to achieve these goals and offer creative solutions that eventually lead to prototype production.
Diam also offers customized solutions in a rapid and cost effective way, using proprietary technology, the company is able to bring targeted marketing to the point of purchase. Available to clients during this notional stage is a staff of 56 designers in five design centers around the world using state-of-the-art, 3-D CAD systems. Designs are worked up from loose concepts to photo realistic renderings.
Diam’s engineering department develops designs from creative concepts to full volume production using advanced technologies including virtual 3-D modeling of displays and their components for full testing before submitting the project to some of the 42 model makers and the prototype manufacturing department.
Chances are, the new design will include groundbreaking features. On-going research at Diam’s research laboratories has resulted in the creation of new technologies including an anti-scratch varnish for longer-lasting, harder-working displays. The labs also are engaged in testing polymers, color matching, material development, environmental issues and quality standards.
Following client approval, full scale manufacturing of displays takes place during which specialists in that field manage the logistics of distribution. With more than 1.3 million square feet of facilities in the U.S. and Europe, Diam is fully equipped to handle complex logistics. FieldFlex teams install, maintain and eventually recycle the displays. A Web-based project management program keeps clients fully informed of a project’s progress with reviews of specifications and 24/7 tracking of status and scheduling.
In-house manufacturing ensures consistency of product quality and a greater ability to meet customers’ schedules. Production facilities in the U.S., France and the U.K. manufacture and assemble displays using a full range of materials and continually updating techniques and processes to enhance precision and production efficiency. Robotic production lines have been introduced for increased accuracy while advanced paint technology, hot foil stamping, tampo, screen and litho printing bring displays to life.
Diam has an impressive worldwide machine inventory with more than 90 injection molding presses rated from 100 to 1,800 tons and coupled with robotic component handling. Vacuum forming and in-line die cutting are performed as is sheet fabrication with 15 multi-head CNC routers for woodwork and acrylic.
With a wide range of decoration capabilities, Diam is experienced and proficient in handling complex assembly and distribution logistics.
Diam International was the winner of two prestigious Gold Superstar awards at the Marketing Services Show in Hamburg, Germany in June, 2002. The company won more gold awards than any other merchandising company with 11 POPAL Outstanding Merchandising Achievement Awards at the annual Global Shop exhibition in Chicago in April, 2002.
While industry recognition of a company’s ingenuity is appreciated, satisfied customers are the greatest rewards and Diam has an enviable collection of these. Maybelline, Samsung, Kodak, Clinique and FYE executives all have expressed gratitude for Diam’s creative solutions to unwieldy display difficulties that were affecting sales and profits.
In one case a retail customer had a wall problem with jumbled cosmetic brand displays, 26 different suppliers, 1,200 parts and up to eight weeks delivery times. It considered its planogram, a detailed analysis of its shelf space, inflexible and difficult to modify. Diam solved all of that with its Millenium fixturing system, adding visual consistency, a more efficient arrangement and ordering system, downlighting and creating a more flexible planogram. In another case, Kodak was challenged by a need to free up inventory and working capital from multiple merchandising configurations with tens of thousands of square feet devoted to multiple display configurations for retailers. Obsolescence was becoming common and inventory costs were a drain.
Diam designed a flexible modular Universal system incorporating 40 possible display configurations from only 12 components that reduced inventory and costs. Available display functions were endcap, floorstand and wall systems. Tim Maycher, director of retail branding at Eastman Kodak expressed his company’s satisfaction: “The Universal system was developed based on two needs: increased flexibility and modularity. As the photo industry grows and changes, the Universal system will allow us to accommodate shifts in products and services as needed.”
These comments are proof of Diam’s role as a retail merchandising solutions provider. By controlling the entire process, the company acts as a strategic partner and can respond quickly to complex demands with cost-effective solutions. The result is flawless execution with no surprises, no complications and no excuses.