Daemo: setting a good example

Published 28/12, 2016 at 16:41

Ever since its foundation in 1989, attachment specialist Daemo has been pursuing its goal of being a role model to its fellow Korean suppliers. Korea is a relatively new entrant to the demolition attachment industry and, for a while, local brands were associated with cheapness rather than quality. Daemo has demolished the preconception by becoming a major international player with high-quality products. Andrei Bushmarin reports.

Industriousness is the word that best describes Koreans. They are one of the most hard-working nations in the world. Already at five in the morning buses in Seoul are filled with people going to work. And often they do not return home until very late. Koreans’ perseverance, diligence and stamina were undoubtedly a big factor in the economic miracle on the Han river.


A visionary

Daemo’s own miracle has a lot to do with the personality of its founder and creative force, Won-Hae Lee. An engineer by education, he began his career in the 1980s working for an importer of construction machinery. His task was to find high-quality equipment unavailable in Korea and to re-sell it in the local market.

Back then demolition attachments were scarce and expensive. Most came from Japan and Europe and were hardly affordable for local users. That was a niche in the market that Won-Hae Lee spotted and, with four colleagues and a capital of  $50,000 (€47,000), he founded Daemo in 1989. The name Daemo can be translated as ‘giving a good example’, and this was exactly that Won-Hae Lee was going to achieve with his enterprise.


International aspirations from the get-go 

The rookie manufacturer started out with producing parts and components for hydraulic breakers, which it sold to a local excavator rental company. Then Won-Hae Lee designed the first model of Daemo’s own hydraulic breaker, which soon became the company’s signature product. Three years into its existence, Daemo was appointed a supplier to Hyundai Heavy Industries, a cooperation that would last for decades.

An astute businessman, Won-Hae Lee realized early on that as promising as the domestic market was, Daemo would need to break into big time. In 1990, it gained a foothold in North America by finding a dealer there and, two years later, Won-Hae Lee went to Europe to attend his very first Bauma. That was a brave move considering that he only had a few copies of the product catalogue in Korean and could barely speak English. But fortune favours the bold, and Won-Hae Lee managed to win over his first European customers there and then.        


Fast growth through collaborations

The company grew fast and in 1997, it entered a cooperation agreement with Indian company Telcon, a TATA-Hitachi alliance, and India has been one of Daemo’s biggest markets ever since. Within five years in the early 2000s, the Korean company set up overseas branches in North America, China and Europe. The year 2005 saw the beginning of another long-term and fruitful collaboration as Daemo was appointed an OEM supplier to US-based Breaker Technology, a part of the Astec Group.

In 2013, Daemo was awarded Steel Tower Industrial Medal, a prestigious trophy for businesses in Korea. The award recognised Daemo’s achievements in making hydraulic attachments and contributing to the development of the country’s construction machinery industry.  


Total solution provider

Having achieved the status of a market leader in Korea, Daemo is now cementing its position as a global player. The company exhibits at all major shows in Europe, North America and Asia, with its famous and now-copied Demolition Terminator being a staple feature at exhibitions. Daemo’s slogan ‘Total Solution Provider’ reflects the comprehensiveness of its attachment range.

Hydraulic breakers, which are marketed under the brand name Alicon, remain the manufacturer’s flagship product and a bestseller.  Alicon breakers represent 27 years of manufacturing experience.

The DMS series of rotating shears is Daemo’s second bestselling product. Available in seven models, the shears fit carriers ranging in weight from 22t to 70t.

A very special attachment from the Korean manufacturer is a car dismantler. Designed specifically for dismantling various types of vehicles, it comes in three models fitting 4t to 28t excavators. According to the manufacturer, demand for it is particularly high in China at present, the result of a government programme aimed at recycling of old cars.


Treating employees like family

Daemo seems to have taken the old idea of treating workers like family to its heart. The company is now finishing the construction of a new manufacturing and office complex, which it calls the Multi Techno Valley. Scheduled for opening in late 2017, it will house two factories, a logistics centre and office and welfare facilities, which include fitness centre, nursery, dormitory and canteen.

A believer in the notion of corporate responsibility, Won-Hae Lee is convinced that being of service to society is the ultimate purpose of any business enterprise. In line with his views, Won-Hae Lee has established a scholarship programme in Yu Han school to support talented and underprivileged students. He also donates part of the company’s profits to a local charity.

This year Daemo expects sales revenue to reach some €54M, with Asia, Middle East, North America and Europe accounting for most of the sales. In 2017, Daemo is going to launch another line of hydraulic breakers bristling with many new features. Having analysed the market trends, the manufacturer has noticed the growing use of compact machines, particularly in Europe. Making small-sized attachments will be Daemo’s focus in the short to middle term.


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