Interview by Noah Graff
Today’s Machining World Archives November/December 2010 Volume 06 Issue 09
Noah Graff: What is NuBricity and where did the idea come from?
Howie Damron: It’s kind of hard to say what it is in a nutshell because [discovering] it was a 20-year mission. NuBricity works through a metal seasoning process. You’ve seen a well seasoned cooking pot, that’s what we do to the metal. We go inside and we season it. The best part is we don’t have to turn it black like cookware. It’s important that everybody understands that you can’t just put NuBricity on a metal surface and expect it to season. It actually takes metal-to-metal contact. People everywhere need to realize that metal conditioning is the solution to all the insanity involved in conventional lubrication. [With regular lubricants] you’ve got to dispose of them afterward and then make more. You’ve got to bring it in by truck in bulk.
NG: Who developed it? Were engineers involved?
HD: I developed the product back in 1995. I was actually working in industrial lubrication maintenance, and I started looking at all the different technologies out there. I wondered why [these technologies] were not being utilized fully in all industrial [applications]. I started going to visit some of the greatest lubrication engineers, metallurgists and tribologists in the world. About two and a half years ago I discovered the product and found that it worked great on all of my own test equipment. I then realized that once NuBricity is applied, it is not coating, it actually penetrates into the steel and you can’t get it off.
NG: What are your qualifications to make these claims about the product? Are you an engineer?
HD: I don’t have an engineering degree. When people ask me what my background is I tell them I have 20 years of on the job training and learning about grease from others. This mission has not been and it never will be about putting money, fame, or fortune in Howie’s pocket. That’s not what I’m after. What I’m doing here is trying to educate everyone that there is another way of lubricating equipment without continually having to reapply. If you can actually stop the heat and the wear on that metal surface, well, you’ve accomplished a bunch, mostly [reduced] the wear on the equipment.
NG: How did the product get its big break?
HD: We started taking it to different industrial applications. A barge company allowed me to go in and do field-testing on their stuff. They would come and ask me, “Have you got a product for our chains?” I said, “Well, yeah, I can do that.” So I started to package it as a chain lube, and then for firearms, and as a penetrated spray lube. It starting working everywhere. We had the product tested at Clark Testing Facilities at the Clark Labs in Pittsburgh. When they called back, the results were overwhelming. I had anticipated good results, but I had no idea the guy would say that it surpassed anything they’d ever tested.
NG: So is this a documented study?
HD: Yes, it’s a documented study.
NG: Are the numbers out there online for everybody to check?
HD: Not yet. We’re marketing by word-of-mouth, We’re [still trying to] understand exactly how much of the product the customer is going to need. We are growing. In December, we’ll be pretty much ready to go.
NG: Is there a money back guarantee on NuBricity?
HD: Soon we will have a guarantee and warranty, which will include liability insurance. Some customers wonder if we fall into the “snake oil” category. So we have [potential] customers actually call the people who have done the studies and the tests.
NG: The general public can’t buy it yet?
HD: It’s an industrial product, and at this point we have no intentions of going consumer. We have customers that have spent a tremendous amount of money over the years testing the product and we don’t want them to look on TV and see it selling for $19.95.
NG: What industries do you market to?
HD: We are real strong in the mining industry, marine industry, heavy tugboat industry and steel mills.
NG: So you’re selling to these guys already?
HD: Oh yes, we’re selling to them now.
NG: How many employees do you have?
HD: In our mother company, DCS Solutions, there are five of us. But there are probably 60 distributors around the country.
NG: What is your role at the company?
HD: I’m Chairman of the Board. And I go out and work directly with the customers. I’m not afraid to put on my old clothes, go 1,600 feet underground and help them with the lubrication problem. If you’re too good to get down and help your customer figure out their problem and not worry about getting dirty, you’re just too good—we don’t need you. And we don’t want customers just buying the product and not understanding exactly the strength of what they’ve got in their hands, so we work with them one on one.
NG: Do you see a future for NuBricity in precision machining?
HD: Most definitely. My distributors call me from all over the country wanting to go in to talk to the machining industry. We have dozens of people calling and talking about the positive results they’re seeing with NuBricity in the machining industry. We’re really excited about it.
NG: Let’s talk about your marketing strategy. What is the “Singing Lubricator”?
HD: I’ve been an entertainer since I was eight years old. I’ve played the guitar, sang and have been on one stage or another for many years. Then I became a mainstream Nashville entertainer and went on the road with my own show and worked with many of the biggest country stars out there. I’ve sat on the back deck of Johnny Paycheck’s home with Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. I also write niche songs for all different types of things, and I do [the music for] hunting and fishing shows like “Big Horn Outdoors.” It’s on Direct TV, Channel 608, the Pursuit Channel.
NG: What does that have to do with NuBricity?
HD: Well, a lot of people know when they bring me on stage that I’m going to talk about my mission for industrial lubrication. A lot of the shows that I’m doing now are on a tour called “The Masonic Pride Tour.” But I do every venue you can imagine.
NG: How big are these concerts for the Freemasons?
HD: The one that I did in British Columbia not long ago was about 2,900 people. They bring me up there on stage and introduce me as “The Singing Lubricator.” They want to hear the hunting songs that they’re hearing on national TV and the Masonic songs that I’ve written for fundraisers. And at the very end of it I talk about the banner that’s hanging up behind me for NuBricity. I don’t go into a sales solicitation. All I do is just say, “If any of you out here are involved in industrial lubrication, if any of you are looking for ways to save your overhead by finding a good lubricant for your program, give me a call or I’ll talk to you after the show.” It’s been one of the greatest marketing tools we have. Guys will then come up to me and they’ll say, “I own this machine shop” or “I am the maintenance director for a steel mill.”
NG: Is your product patented?
HD: We’re going through a patent process right now.
NG: Can you give me an example of how NuBricity has worked for a client?
HD: Here is a real interesting scenario. In coal mines, the greasing pins on a 988 loader are probably the most important lubrication points on the entire loader itself. When the bucket is picking up tons of coal the operator can tell when the pins need lubrication. So he will send the truck down three times a day into the pit to grease these pins. After the guy put the NuBricity grease on there, he went from three times a day to one time a week. Then he noticed it only took one or two squirts.
NG: What is NuBricity made from?
HD: In its raw form it’s organic. It comes from tree and plant saps and contains all natural bean oils.
NG: Do you worry about people stealing the formula?
HD: No. There are nine components in NuBricity. All nine of these components come through years of relationships and friendships with each one of the owners of these components. Once you have all nine of the components sitting in front of you, you can’t just blend them together. The secret is in blending them together correctly. If it’s not done correctly, you have nothing.
NG: How did you come up with your suggested retail price of $13 a tube? That seems pretty cheap if the product is so good.
HD: Well, that’s true, but [at that price] a customer will look at you and say, “Thanks for not gouging me. I’m going to get you 10 other customers.” It’s just like with your magazine, I had never heard of Today’s Machining World until I started talking to customers since you and I talked. I said, “Have you guys ever heard of a magazine called Today’s Machining World?” and they said, “Absolutely. We get it. It’s a great magazine. Man, they put some phenomenal articles in there.”
NG: That’s awesome.
HD: So that right there made me go: Holy Smokes, and I started checking out Today’s Machining World [online]. I cannot wait for you to hear the song I’ve written for you.
NG: You’ve written a song for us?
HD: I’ve written your song.