Dometic Group, global supplier to the RV, marine, hospitality and automotive industries, has debuted its new in-house chemical development and testing laboratory in LaGrange, Ind. The LaGrange team, led by veteran chemical engineer Dan Smith, is focused specifically on engineering and testing innovative cleaning and sanitation products for the recreational vehicle aftermarket.
“The LaGrange innovation center is an exciting step forward for Dometic as it expands its focus on inventing and testing the industry’s most robust cleaning and sanitation products. The LaGrange lab is not only designing new comfort products, it is also ensuring that each and every product is highly effective and environmentally friendly,” said Smith in a news release. “While in the past, Dometic has marketed products through partnerships with other vendors, moving forward everything we release to the market will be an original Dometic formula.”
Smith has been given free rein in establishing the processes for the LaGrange innovation center, which is involved in creating new industry standards and competitive benchmarking. He’s also breaking ground by establishing methods and processes that use RV-specific products, materials and situations to gauge a product’s effectiveness.
“While other companies conduct generalized soil removal tests, those protocols and methods don’t test what works on, for instance, actual pet stains on carpets, or tree sap stains on RV awnings,” said Smith. “We are testing our cleaning products in the same way they will be used. For instance, if a cleaning product is going to be used on an awning, we’re testing it on an awning instead of something else.”
Dometic is placing a renewed emphasis on sanitation products, a segment which represents a significant annual expenditure among recreationists. The company understands that it is critical for RVers to have products that effectively break down effluent and help maintain function of those specialized tank systems at extreme temperatures, so real-use testing is part of that process as well, Smith said.
“We’re trying to make it as lifelike as possible with practical application and functional testing, so yes, we test on human waste here,” he stated. “It’s the only way to ensure a product will provide the consumers with the same positive results. Another priority for us is for our solutions to be effective while environmentally friendly. We are scientifically very serious about that.”
Some of the lab tests on Dometic cleaning products have been filmed and posted on the company’s web site, as part of the Expert’s Corner collection of videos that demonstrate the company’s products in action. Another video provides an introduction by Smith with a tour of the lab.
“If there’s really any chemical question globally having to do with RV, as well as marine consumables, it’s directed to this lab,” he related. “We have our main projects, but we’re always getting questions, sometimes oddball stuff that nobody else has an answer for. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we don’t, and if we don’t, we try to find a way to test it and find out from a scientific standpoint but with a real-life perspective.”
Smith will conduct some in-field experimentation this year during an early-summer camping trip with his wife, their three small children and the family dog – a hands-on test subject for the Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator – in the Dometic RV, a Class C motorhome decked out with Dometic appliances and systems.
Doug Curtis, Dometic vice president of marketing for the Americas, noted “The LaGrange lab is another key component of Dometic’s ongoing focus to engineer innovative comfort solutions that meet the needs of people when they’re on the move away from home. This ‘mobile living community’ can count on Dometic to provide the highest quality, most effective products to keep their environments clean and comfortable.”