“A CamelBak Saved My Life” With Jeff Davies

Makers of Our Future podcast artwork

Jeff Davies is enjoying a successful career in design engineering, which includes positions of increasing responsibility at small companies, startups, and Fortune 500 organizations like Korry Electronics, FrontRow, and Agilent. He is now the Design Engineering Manager at CamelBak, a leading manufacturer of hydration products, where he started as an individual contributor. Jeff has amassed considerable experience in aerospace, analytical equipment, acoustics, seals, and injection molded components.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jeff Davies’ path to a technical career through the JC Junior College system 
  • Tips for choosing which startup to work at 
  • Overmolding silicone seals and LIM silicone tooling 
  • Controlling the move from prototype to multiple cavity production tooling 
  • Managing offshore manufacturing partners 
  • Risks associated with re-sourcing key components 
  • Transitioning from contributing engineer to people management 
  • How to respond if there’s a leak: is the seal component at fault? 
  • The benefits of hand drafting and sketching new concepts 
  • The power of surrounding yourself with like-minded peers and friends

In this episode…

In this episode of Makers of Our Future, Bill Sharratt sits down with Jeff Davies to talk about the challenges of seal design and manufacture. Jeff discusses his design approach and the risks associated with re-sourcing critical components. He also shares the passion of the team at CamelBak, the company’s preeminent culture of sustainability, and offers advice to engineers new to seals. Plus, he’ll explain how to stand out from the pack when interviewing for open positions. 


Resources Mentioned in this episode


Sponsor for this episode

This show is brought to you by Darcoid

The seal industry is changing and not always for the better. It's consolidating, knowledge is retiring out faster than it's being replaced, and design engineers specifying seals can struggle to get the support they need.

Darcoid is doing something about that.  

We're building this podcast as a searchable store of wisdom, so you, our audience, can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants.    

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  
Behind every great product is a great seal. Join us at the crossroads of preeminence, product design, engineering, seal mastery, and supply chain excellence, and to learn from the Makers of Our Future.

Bill Sharratt  0:21  
Well, welcome to Makers of Our Future. I'm really glad you're joining us today, hearing from the people behind the products that are changing the world and the discussion about the steel industry that supports that. Here at Darcoid, we decided to make this podcast as a searchable store of knowledge, hopefully something that up and coming engineers can hit up as they get into grips with sales. I'm Bill Sharratt. I'm Senior Vice President of Business Development at Darcoid and I'm your host for today. My guest today, I'm reading from my script marries a major design engineering contributor behind a brand that makes the world a better place. Over his career. His products have advanced scientific study and analysis, improved learning outcomes for students, and at his current company. Those products improve performance for riders, athletes, runners, hikers, and even boost the tactical effectiveness of military units around the world. The brand is CamelBak, the creator of a revolutionary product category and personal hydration systems. And our guest is Jeff Davies. CamelBak Design Engineering Manager. Welcome to the show, Jeff.

Jeff Davies  1:43  
Thank you, Bill. I appreciate the invite. And look forward to chatting with you a little bit.

Bill Sharratt  1:48  
Yeah, me too. Me too. So tricky question to start with. My mother's maiden name is Davies. So I'm assuming we must be related. Have you got any Welsh in your background? By chance there

Jeff Davies  2:02  
is Welsh. Welsh in German? Yeah. So very much I find it's a pretty common name I've as I started researching, yeah, over and over in England.

Bill Sharratt  2:13  
I love going to the Gold Country and looking around and you look at the old cemeteries It's strange how many Davies There are eight so Welsh miners came to dig for gold, I guess.

Jeff Davies  2:26  
Interesting. Yeah. It's like the Smiths, I guess.

Bill Sharratt  2:32  
Excellent. So what brought you to engineering? Jeff?

Jeff Davies  2:38  
Well, that's a great question. I went to school here in Santa Rosa at the JC decided that I was going to take a technical path very early on coming out of high school, I was joined physics and math and that kind of thing. So really sort of never wavered, I guess went right through into engineering. Purely because I like hands on and just building things really kind of seeing the design come to fruition and and seeing the creations out in the world, benefiting people so. So that was yeah, it's a big drive today. Excellent deck with.

Bill Sharratt  3:16  
And so Cal State Sacramento was where you got your credentials? Yes,

Jeff Davies  3:22  
I did. Yeah. Yep. Went from the JC couple years, they're highly recommend, if you have the opportunity, go to a JC because it does make the transition a lot easier and at a much lower cost. So so it's a great transition.

Bill Sharratt  3:38  
Good advice. I know we're gonna touch on seals later, I'm sure. But I like to ask how much did you learn about seal when you're studying Cal State?

Jeff Davies  3:50  
Eggs at zero? 

Bill Sharratt  3:54  
We've got to do something about that. 

Jeff Davies  3:55  
Absolutely. I agree. No, I, I would say, ya know, there was really no talk or discussions or analysis on any kind of seal mechanisms. This is really a school of hard knocks really coming out of going into the industry and in learning. Yeah, it

Bill Sharratt  4:14  
seems a common theme. I think it's a learn as you go kind of a an expertise for sure. Sure. first job out of school Korry Electronics and the aerospace business up in in Washington. Is that in Washington? Yeah. So Boeing and such like being close to that.

Jeff Davies  4:33  
Yep. It was. In fact, prior to that, my really my first and it's not even on my LinkedIn, but I worked as a rocket scientist, actually down in the San Jose area. So worked for doing ignition systems for solid rocket motors. So that kind of got me into the aerospace, defense contracting world for about four or five years, then transferred up to Seattle and got to work for a startup company. out there and then led him to Korry Electronics where that was very much defense contract related. One of the very unique spots in Seattle that had all of their manufacturing, prototyping their labs all in one building in downtown Seattle. So it was a nice, that was probably my best learnings as an engineer to really walk downstairs and talk to the tool shop and

Bill Sharratt  5:27  
get some hands on. You're working with the makers. And you could you could turn stuff on the lathe and yep,

Jeff Davies  5:34  
excellent. It was. Yeah, it was a very unique position. Four or 500 people there and a lot of fun stuff we did. 

Bill Sharratt  5:43  
And really good coffee when you get

Jeff Davies  5:47  
that love that. Yeah.

Bill Sharratt  5:50  
So what pulled you down from Seattle? To come further south?

Jeff Davies  5:55  
Yeah, sure. That's a great question. In fact, I started really my career down down in the Bay Area. And offer was offered a startup job up in Seattle. That was it was an interesting company. We, at the time when computers and I'm dating myself now, when computers first came out, we actually designed the automated ticketing machine for the ski lift industry. So fun projects and been few years, but startups certainly out there risk, but I have to wear a lot of hats. So that's what took me to Seattle, worked a couple of different companies up there. And then I decided to come back home. Quite honestly, I think the gray drove me away and not the rain from Seattle. So I went back into the Bay Area, so and your family's

Bill Sharratt  6:44  
good. Then the pathways group. Are they still in business?

Jeff Davies  6:53  
No, they are not. And that was that that was part of the startup company. In fact, they came twice to the startup company, really to do something different. And they open up offices down in the Bay Area. So decided to follow back and, and made a stab at it again, in the startup companies go. Yeah, sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't in this case, it was a fantastic learning lesson. I would kind of gold rush. It's

Bill Sharratt  7:26  
kind of that gold rush mentality. Everyone thinks, oh, startup, you know, after riches, and yeah, abolitionism. Most of the miners didn't find gold and had dreams of striking it rich. How do you choose? When I was looking at startups?

Jeff Davies  7:44  
That's a great, great, great question. You know, I think it's all about the visionary. And it's the guy that's got the ideas. So this person really did have some vision. He really kind of got his chops in the Microsoft industry up in Seattle, and sort of was working for them work for IBM, so had a lot of a lot of confidence, I guess, in that leadership and that that person, but I think what happens is you get into startups. And what happened is that we just started getting too diversified into too quickly. We didn't focus. It was really we didn't stay in our core competency and started trying to do everything for everybody. Thanks. So for ATMs, originally, for ATMs were popular. Yeah. So. So it really was that and then getting in with a throng of investors, which I had nothing to do with. So there's a lot of shady folks out there sometimes, too. So. So yeah, it's hard to choose. And I, my advice is just really kind of, I guess, meet with the people that you're, I guess a face to face to really build your confidence and use your gut. Don't forget, it's a little red flags are going off. Early. Pay attention to.

Bill Sharratt  9:06  
Okay, good advice. So then Agilent and BioRad. Less, less time at those positions, but certainly more stable companies. And we're in now into what scientific instrumentation and analysis equipment. Yeah,

Jeff Davies  9:25  
yeah. And agile. That was an interesting segue. It was once once the startup company here down in the Bay Area didn't work out. I got a job at Agilent when with their lightweight division, which was a brand new division for them. And it was really a project manager for project managers. It was a brand new position. And I got to learn a I guess a little bit, a lot more techniques and methods behind project management and and really servicing from that perspective. So As opposed to doing design work.

Bill Sharratt  10:02  
So moving from individual contributor to to kind of pulling all the threads together and keeping on schedule.

Jeff Davies  10:08  
Absolutely, yeah. And being accountable for everything but not having their responsibilities or the other way around whatever way. Yeah, that's what how project management goes.

Bill Sharratt  10:19  
Yeah. I was interested see your, your time at front row. And I thought, What the heck is acoustic systems for education? Yeah, to learn a little bit.

Jeff Davies  10:31  
Yeah, that was actually a fun job. It started out with the company name of phonic air and then went on to front row. I was hired as a mechanical engineer did all of the electronic packaging for him, but it was very specific to the education market. So it's it's project it's it's, it's allowing the teachers to project their voice in a classroom, without, you know, these very loud speaker systems. So they were they were sometimes body worn microphones, with wireless speakers that were put up in the classroom. So it allows that student at the back of the classroom to hear and not be embarrassed about raising their hand because they can't hear so really a feel good product, fantastic, small company and just learned a lot and they ultimately got bought by Otakon, the company that makes hearing aids over in I think in Copenhagen, I think so got a couple of trips over there as an engineer to really work with their team. So but very, yeah, very rewarding. Company and Ronnie's totally benefited.

Bill Sharratt  11:47  
You really amassed a wide variety of skills. Products covering a wide spectrum of specialties. Yeah. And so on categories. Yeah. At this point, are you feeling like you've developed particular expertise? Are you still feeling like hey, I can handle anything. Now? What took you to CamelBak?

Jeff Davies  12:14  
Yeah, great question. For me going to CamelBak had a couple of good reasons that I wanted to pursue it. One is that I didn't know CamelBak was in the area I was working in in the Bay Area. I was a dirt bike rider. Actually, I would have to say a CamelBak actually did save my I don't know if it saved my life. But it saved me from getting paralyzed, went over the handlebars with a full reservoir on my back. And that reservoir actually protected my spine as they landed on the rock. So so

Bill Sharratt  12:50  
it was a bubble wrap and you lucked out.

Jeff Davies  12:55  
So yeah, and then I come to find out CamelBak is in my area. So I went after very aggressively. It was probably a good couple of years actually was working with or talking with Jeremy golden, he's the one that ultimately ended up getting the job but I really wanted to get some experience around plastics injection molding, that was drivers. And then the fact that it's titled the outdoor industry, it's just kind of a icing on the cake. Really something that I felt passionate about, certainly knew about the product and and believed in it. So I mean, that's why I'd made the jump.

Bill Sharratt  13:33  
Now great. I've visited a few times and I was really struck at how just the whole culture from the basically from the parking lot on the on the and the architecture and the LEED certified facility and that was a really an old breaking move to be so environmentally aware and compliant.

Jeff Davies  13:57  
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, it was a great transition. We had our office up in north pelt that lemon. And when we did move down to this south part of Petaluma, it was really a big change for us and a good one. Our offices, you know, just all very much collaborative, so we can all talk to one another. There's not a lot of cubicle walls, per se. So a lot of good lighting in very sustainable so nice. Yeah, it fits our it fits our culture.

Bill Sharratt  14:29  
Beautiful. So plastics and molded plastics, you want to pick up some expertise there. Is that where you landed straightaway?

Jeff Davies  14:39  
Yeah, it is actually. Back when I came to Canada back I was hired as the as the military product engineer from say, so I worked on what they call GMI government military industrial products for about the first couple of years. First products I worked on were really gas mask adapters that tie into our hydration system. So very much of a large majority of injection molded plastic springs, O rings, seals that kind of stuff. Yep.

Bill Sharratt  15:12  
Oh, you said, Oh, we're in, we got to talk to the

Jeff Davies  15:16  

Bill Sharratt  15:17  
So what are you going by the book every time in terms of your design approach? Did you have to do take custom pathways?

Jeff Davies  15:27  
I did, actually, you know, everybody's pretty probably in the seal industry is pretty familiar with Parker Hannifin, written guides. Those were baselines for me to get started on doing seal design. Ultimately, though, in injection molding with the tolerances that are very, you know, the tight tolerances are very tough to achieve in an injection molded part. So we did have to make some provisions on some of the client widths and Glanton depths and, and, you know, oaring diameters, so some of them deviate on. And it was purely by test that we had to discover that. So

Bill Sharratt  16:10  
and you got slides that you need to accommodate on your tool, which can put leak paths right across the correct seal face. Right.

Jeff Davies  16:19  
So parting lines, yeah. So that that's a big one. When you got parting lines coming through your, your critical sealing interfaces, those are, those are areas where you really have to work with a molder to make them aware that there's some critical surfaces that really can't have a party line, sometimes you can't avoid it. So they

Bill Sharratt  16:38  
really have to go in and fine tune the the the tools to actually eliminate that to a certain point. And so from the CEO perspective, you've got the, the the tolerance stack up the nominal, the maximum material condition, minimum. And you got to figure all that out with quite a wide toleranced gland that the seal absolute system.

Jeff Davies  17:05  
Yeah, in fact, we're working on a design right now. That's very much more of a flat face seal. And we're dealing with probably about three or four different tolerance stack ups, I guess, if you will, that that that add up. And we're trying to do an over molded silicone gasket. Bass plastic parts. So those are this is one of our first overmolded parts we've been doing and silicone or that we've done. So a lot of interesting challenges there already.

Bill Sharratt  17:36  
Oh, for sure. Now, and good luck with it. I do you. When you're over molding, and it's slim silicone. That's some expensive tooling. So how do you? At what point do you say we're confident that we're going to hit this and kick off your tooling?

Jeff Davies  17:55  
Yeah, good question. I would say probably about 90% of all of our new product introductions at CamelBak, we will budget for a prototype tool. So we'll end up doing the single cavity of anything, we do just have the learning lessons that we have to, you know, account for. And it does save that save them money, it takes a lot of time in the front end. So we probably add about three or four months to our schedules. So we really have to at the front end plan for that. But that gives us the opportunity to really learn before we go into a multi cavity tool situation with LIM it's certainly a challenge. It is a very expensive tool. And

Bill Sharratt  18:41  
limiting liquid injection molding Correct? Yeah, liquid injection molding?

Jeff Davies  18:44  
Yeah. So we are factoring in a single cavity prototype to offer this one. It's costly, but I think it's gonna be it's going to pay off in the end.

Bill Sharratt  18:56  
So one of the things we really monitor very carefully is when we have a sealed design a customer seal and it moves from a single cavity prototype to a multi cavity it might be hundreds of cavities, it might be 24, you know, moving from prototype to scale manufacturing is can be a bloody minefield of things that can go wrong. So that cavity 28 is slightly different from cavity 21 share. And controlling that is a major component of what we do with our manufacturing partners and our quality team. I would assume it's something similar for you. Yeah,

Jeff Davies  19:41  
very much. So. Yeah, it's important to you know, get however, you can possibly get it as cavity IDs on all your parts because these things pop out of the molars, you know, you don't know what cavity they came out of. So, getting creative with cavitation markings and then Statistical Process As control, so we've got a by MicroView optical comparator, that we can actually get some measurements on soft parts, you know, calculate roundness or, you know, diameters on parts that typically don't want to hold their shape very well. So you can do kind of a mathematical algorithm. So yeah, we do do a lot of that. And it has to be controlled. Our cavitation on silicone probably gets up to 16. It kind of its maximum on 16, cavities for production. Good gets tricky.

Bill Sharratt  20:39  
And how much into the into the making of the sausage, do you need to get in terms with the the guy who's operating the tool of the press? And knowing all the press dynamics? Do you have to get into that control? Or do you leave that to the to the molder,

Jeff Davies  20:54  
we live that to the molars typically. So we'll we'll do you know, design DFM did designed for manufacturing analyses and will basically shoot our 3d designs overseas, along with drawings and get feedback accordingly. So what we do, we do typically stay out of the processing aspect of it. Our engineers will travel to China probably well, back in the day when we could couple two or three times a year. And we find that that shaves off weeks, if not months of just being FaceTime with with the engineers and factory floor.

Bill Sharratt  21:32  
We're on parallel path. See, Jeff, I mean, we do the same with our with our seals, wherever they're made. Our quality team is there for us to be. Yeah, and having those relationships if nothing else is so critical. Sure as to fixing stuff when the wheels gonna fall off the wagon. It always does somewhere along the line. It's Murphy's Law. Being able to move fast and know who to speak to to affect some change is priceless. For sure. Yeah, it

Jeff Davies  22:01  
sure is. Yeah. And certainly that's part of our supply chain challenges right now are just that it's it's really not being able to get over there to China regime to really work with the factories. So we're doing weekly meetings, you know, at night, our time to, to keep the ball rolling as best we can. And lots of FedEx shipments going back and forth. So we're managing it as best as we can. But we are we are feeling that delays.

Bill Sharratt  22:30  
I mean, total parallel paths. I mean, so you're forward looking, make it better. Next product iteration, you driving product market growth as much as you can. But if you're anything like us, you've probably spent a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror checking out supply chain disasters.

Jeff Davies  22:53  
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think that is a very large portion of the work. I mean, I think our NPIs are, and the design aspects are sometimes 20%. And that's the fun part for the engineers. But on the other hand, it's the money. It's just what you say it's making it work and getting built that really gives you some challenge and some and some fun times, too. I mean, I've worked with some pretty smart people over in Asia. And I think that's the fun part is really to pick up techniques from from all over the world on people with different talents and taking some of those nuggets with Yeah. So

Bill Sharratt  23:33  
pretty battling the right people having the relationships. Yes, for sure. Selecting the right partners. Yeah, we've been forced, looking at resourcing second sourcing, where there is a supply chain disruption that cannot be surmounted, and we have to look elsewhere. Have you been chasing any of those? And how, how carefully do you approach something like that?

Jeff Davies  24:03  
That's a good question. We're going through that with one of our major suppliers in China right now. And in fact, they, they have over the last couple of years been moving their factory, or at least duplicating their factory in the Dominican Republic. And so, you know, you can imagine, as we generate a lot of these bottles, bottles got a lot of air in them. So you throw them in a container, you're shipping a lot of air across the ocean. So you know, it's it just makes sense to really have your supply chain as close and on the same continent. So we're looking at some pretty significantly time savings. But the challenges are that, you know, that that factory that's been producing for us is really starting to have to downsize a little bit to to, to account for the other so, so managing that while this other transition is going on is tricky. We do our manufacturing of our reservoirs. is down in Tijuana. So they're reservoirs are the bladders that go on the backpacks. And, you know, we're certainly looking at supply chain issues there. So Asia has sort of stepped up and our mentor manufacturers over there to actually look at the potential of manufacturing resin. So, so that gets tricky when you've got a supplier that's used to having, you know, all the business having to split it out. So yeah, yeah,

Bill Sharratt  25:27  
yeah. That's tricky. And, and then the material, the end product has to be has to meet your specification. We're constantly you know, us well, it's just, it's just a nitrile O rings. 72. Roman, it can't be hard to get that from somewhere else. It's like, there's so much more to that. And knowing how it's used in your particular use case, and what you can get away with and what you absolutely don't touch. So having your expertise, depth of knowledge in how, how stuff is made, scaled up, controlled, you know, where the landmines are ripe for if someone wants to help out? Yeah, sure.

Jeff Davies  26:18  
Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, sometimes those shortcuts happen when you're so far away, without you know, and and so that you have to get in some sort of forensics, engineering, sometimes on parts that will come in that you can't figure out why they're failing all of a sudden, it dig into root cause and find out it was a material shift or an additive or, or tweak on their cycle times to save some money that ultimately can bite you on the other end. So you're right. There's a lot of a lot of landmines. And I guess, you know, the material supply is a big challenge. Right now. We're having shortages, like nobody's business right now. And so we're, yeah,

Bill Sharratt  27:04  
I'm done with using the word unprecedented. It does pop up in every other sentence. No, I swear. I mean, I think, Davies, I'm not sure you are. You're a cousin. We might as well be brothers we live in. Yeah,

Jeff Davies  27:23  
yeah. Yeah, we better not do it. 23 and me.

Bill Sharratt  27:31  
Indeed. So let's talk about your career at CamelBak. And I'm interested in now, you are kind of a came in as a senior contributing engineer. And with you said you had the military portfolio essentially, transitioning into management, how difficult is it not to do work for your reports, like because you know how to do it kind of,

Jeff Davies  27:59  
I'm still learning that to be honest with you. I like to get my fingers in it, I would have to say probably the fact that I've worked for a startup company, I'm just wired to go get the thing, get the problem solved. And I will dig in and do whatever it takes and we're in it's it's not my job description. It doesn't matter how they'll try and find it, find an answer to it. So I do find challenge with that. And it's something that you know, I'm constantly working on is to build my team's capability. And really let them run with it and trust them. So I've got to let them sort of swim and guide and mentor them along the way. But it is it's I would say one of the more significant challenges for me going into management to, to break away and I honestly, we're, we've got three mechanical engineers, ones, myself, and the number of new products on our roadmap, kind of require me to get involved. So I will typically pick the low hanging fruit, the ones that are really, you know, not technically challenging, but really are going to talk a little bit of time. And I'd rather have my engineers on the more complicated the fun projects for them. And so, you know, it's just, it's something that as we grow, I find I will find myself having to do more of the management and really break away. So still a work in process.

Bill Sharratt  29:30  
And get the sense that you're super humble. And I know that because you've you failed to mention that you started your career as a rocket scientist. And I should imagine that, yeah, that that mentorship is a key part of your team's success. So yeah, worth noting, as a young engineer coming into into business. What top tips would you have and then I'm going to ask you a seal top tip but by of people coming into engineering out of school. What what do you look for? What traits do you look for? And when you're looking to hire

Jeff Davies  30:10  
for Yeah, well, I think, you know, I just, we recently just did hire a mechanical engineer probably about less than a year ago. And I'd say some of the traits I really was looking for is, is the communication skills and just being able to articulate, you know, I know interviews or you're nervous and, and understand that, but when you really know your, your, your stuff, let's say it's just having that confidence to project and, and, and articulate the information. You know, I look at some of the classwork they've done and all that and I think what's more important for me is just is having that internships experience, if you're in school, go get some temporary, you know, summer work, whatever it that really stands out for me as somebody that really does get into the, to the working world. And, and not just coming right out from a theoretical classroom environment. So it really that made a difference. And yeah, I think just really looking for somebody that doesn't really act like they know it all. So not having a chip on their shoulder, very, very much being humble and wanting to learn and anxious to learn. So, right. Excellent.

Bill Sharratt  31:39  
Yeah. So what about seals do new engineers need to know that might not be completely intuitive

Jeff Davies  31:49  
prototype a lot and as fast as you can. So, really, that's I think the lesson learned, what we're doing at CamelBak is we'll use our 3d printer to print mold hands in. And, you know, do some some rudimentary under understanding of how the heart might behave, because there's a lot a lot of nuances in the dynamics of how the silicone compresses and how it moves that you learn a lot from just getting that casting and may not represent the right barometer. But at least it gives you a sense of how it moves and what's going on. So just rapid, and his quick prototyping can. And understanding that with silicone, you can get away with a lot more than you can injection molding. So you can have undercuts, and all of these weird shapes that you typically can't with a silicone part or I mean, injection molded part. Right. So that gives you a lot of flexibility. But it certainly can then also bite you on the other end, too. So

Bill Sharratt  32:58  
why is that? Jeff? Why why the flexibilities that because you can literally pull a rubber component out of out of an undercut situation

Jeff Davies  33:06  
and undercuts the GE tooling. Right? Yeah. And I think that's the biggest thing and that's the magic of silicone. We love I guess the aspect of designing with it, but very challenging to to get those seals to work. And all I can say is use as much of the rapid prototyping as you can I know 3d printing of silicone is is starting to get some chops, people paying attention to that. And then typically, we can do seals over in China in about two weeks on just a single cavity open close. Yep, type of arrangement. So so that's that's I think the big one. And again, take advantage of 3d printing that's that's changing our world.

Bill Sharratt  33:55  
Absolutely. It's good to hear we've been keeping an eye on on the materials, how close to elastomer properties they're getting. Yeah. It's news to me on the on the silicone front, so I'm going to check that out. Sure, urethane is, has been there for a while but a lot of our elastomer families fluorocarbon nitriles EBS they're still limited to very much limited to compression molding or sometimes transfer shifting. So we have Yeah, we have a faster and prototyping is key. We've understood that and test bench, get it on test, compare it to baseline. We've certainly build out a lot of capability there because, you know, we spent people would typically say try this one, try this one. But if we can do pre validation to get us closer to the bullseye, it saves so much time for sure.

Jeff Davies  34:56  
Yeah, you know, I mentioned that project we're working on now with us kind of a flat face seal, we generated about three or four different gasket profile designs out of that, just to what you said, lots of iterations and having a plan B and A Plan C and Plan K, you know, really just have as many as you can, you know, as they are cheap tools. They're fast. So do as many, many alterations as you can and change your barometer to that's, that's another one that we learn a lot is get them in 4050 and 60. Shore a when you can. No studies now. Yep.

Bill Sharratt  35:36  
So I know we touched on it earlier. But when something starts leaking unexpectedly. So often we'll get a panic call saying what's wrong with your seal? Show me what's changed with your seal? We tend to try and pump the brakes and ask around that. Do you have a similar process?

Jeff Davies  35:58  
Very, very much. So I think I've mentioned that. It's rarely the seal that's causing the problem. It's all the inner hits the it's the Two Meeting opponents that you got to seal against that something's gone awry. Or you get a parting line flash or something's gone out around on yoke. So usually that's been our root cause discoveries. Yeah. But unfortunately, sometimes those can't get fixed. And we got to change our seal, because it's cheaper to do that. And then you you design a little bit more interference.

Bill Sharratt  36:32  
Oh, really? No good. Depends. Good stuff. We've covered a lot of ground. Where's your career going? Where's where's Where do you see yourself in a few years?

Jeff Davies  36:44  
Now? That's a great question. I want to date myself. But you know, certainly I've got a lot of years, I'm coming up close to 40 years in the industry. So but I see myself, definitely sticking with the CamelBak team. I just the fact that we've got an outdoor culture mindset, and the folks are very, very fun to work with. I love working with industrial designers. So I see myself sticking around, you know, working into the senior management level, growing the engineering team. So getting it back to where we were, you know, five, six years ago. That's that's, that excites me is to get that growth going. Yeah. Our corporate ownership has is really in back of us. So they've really done some amazing things for the company that really give us the bandwidth to make that happen. So

Bill Sharratt  37:46  
well, it's clear that you found a really good home and somewhere that you can, you can make a major difference out. So hats off to you, Jeff.

Jeff Davies  37:55  
Appreciate that Bill.

Bill Sharratt  37:58  
Actually talking, I was thinking about something you're talking about dating yourself and almost pre computer and so on. Did you learn drafting hand drafting as part of your training?

Jeff Davies  38:09  
That's, that's interesting. Yes. I was thinking back on that just a while ago. And yeah, I was actually on a board with a pencil. Back when we were I was working for the solid rocket motor company. And yeah, I very distinctly remember having a drafting board in my cubicle that we did all of our sketching on in fact, that company was the first to bring in a, I think a Unigraphics computer and I was so enamored with it, I was the first one that learned to actually draw in 2d. So that was way back.

Bill Sharratt  38:42  
So is there any benefit? In the pencil sketch the sheriff's little drawing, in terms of you can't rush it. It's a process. Is it more meditative? Kind of in the moment?

Jeff Davies  38:57  
I find, yeah, I still find myself doing that. I'll pull out paper, when I've got to come up with some kind of a new geometry or really dig into it. I'll start sketching my hand. It's just faster. You know, I can take a photo of it and send it over to my engineers getting on a CAD and trying to brainstorm and sketch things in 3d. It can be time consuming, so I still revert to the, to the pen and paper. Quite a lot. Yeah, yeah.

Bill Sharratt  39:33  
I feel the same thing. Sit down and just draw something up in CAD it. The spontaneity is gone. You're easily distracted.

Jeff Davies  39:42  
Yes. You're caught up in the tool.

Bill Sharratt  39:44  
It's when you go to answer an email. Yeah.

Jeff Davies  39:51  
I agree. Yeah.

Bill Sharratt  39:53  
Alright, Jeff, we mentioned CamelBak maybe a few dozen times but shout out to the organization. What would you like people to know if if and when you're building out that team. Yeah. In terms of coming to work for you, Jeff?

Jeff Davies  40:07  
Well, yeah, I think CamelBak, you know, the fact that it's linked to the outdoor industry really kind of brings a little bit of a passion from some of our employees that usually will go to work for us because they're an outdoor person so that that passion really resonates to the company. And it's all facets from hiking to biking to motorcycling and a TV and in even the military have that high respect for us. So, so there's a real diverse group within Khalil Mack. And all of them were, I think, typically there for really their passions. And that really changes the attitude, there's a lot of collaboration and I guess, excitement within the teams that that might not be there with, you know, some other high tech company where you can barely pronounce the name of the technology that you're working on. So in the fact that, you know, this is a, it's a, it's a healthy product, so that that has a big benefit. And our sustainability story is really growing. That's something that we just won't let up on. I think by 2025, we want to be 50% You know, sustainable materials. So that resonates, I think, with a lot of the younger crowds and the millennials coming in. So in the management, just a ton of confidence with them, and just how they, how do they manage it, and it's very thoughtful, and it's not a dictated type of management structure, they very much value the employees and and put a lot of confidence into him so so really, you can kind of come in and define your your paths it at CamelBak. And so I think as we as we grow, it's it's gonna get better, we've got a lot of space in our building. Because there's a lot of folks working from home on a more more permanent basis. So there's, there's a lot of room for growth. And, and that's really what our management has challenged us with is to double our revenue in the next three years. So so that's a that's a big goal. No pressure, no pressure.

Bill Sharratt  42:29  
No, I'm sure. I'm sure you've got the putting the police pieces in place. I'm sure you can pull it off that. And yeah, I'll be keeping an eye and see how that can see how that journey goes. That's really Thank you. Yep. So who do you think in terms of getting you to where you've been where you are now? You know, we will stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us? Who do you call out as people who have had major influences in your career?

Jeff Davies  42:58  
Oh, boy, that's a great question, I would say was, it really didn't come from family members. It really came from my think experience in high school and getting hooked up with the right peer group. And then right into the JC so really, you know, if I just the right the like minded mindset of folks that I hung around with in school, and really helped to drive me and keep me pushing through to become an engineer. And then really getting out into my first job and having a manager that really took me under his wing, and mentored me. And just a real sharp, rocket scientist, that was just he was fun to learn from. So just, I guess surrounding yourself with the right kind of like minded people, and you're gonna experience managers and people through your careers, they're gonna get something out of that, or that really makes it fun.

Bill Sharratt  44:03  
Now that's moving forward with intentionality. And that's, that's very cool. Good advice. All right. Do you have any questions for me, Jeff, are anything that you you'd like to touch on that we haven't discussed?

Jeff Davies  44:19  
No, I think? No, no big questions, I will say and a shout out for Darcoid. We did do. You guys did a probably our most complex seal design for us back probably about six years ago, our reservoir cap was an overmolded seal. So that that's still cranking cranking out revenue to this day and doing what very well for us. So that was a huge, huge shout out and a huge learning for our team. So just kudos to your team.

Bill Sharratt  44:53  
Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. And we do it with the right partners and network. I have expertise and yeah, thanks. Thanks for Thanks for that. Jeff. Appreciate it. Yeah. Good. Well, I think we're at a wrap at this point. Jeff, I'd like to thank you so much for joining us today. And we've learned a lot and just looking forward to developing the relationship. Thanks. Fantastic.

Jeff Davies  45:21  
I appreciate the opportunity. Well.

Outro  45:26  
Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can help at That's d a r c o The best seal on time zero defects Darcoid

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