Danfoss Greens America

May 18, 2006
Danish manufacturer helps U.S. OEMs be more competitive and environmentally friendly.

As regulations mandate greater energy efficiency for such products as home appliances and commercial air conditioners and environmental-protection standards become stricter, more U.S. OEMs could be turning to a Denmark-based component and controls supplier for valves, thermostats, switches, meters, frequency converters, flow controllers, sensors and compressors. At least that's what Danfoss A/S hopes.

Danfoss, unlike Muppets character Kermit the Frog, finds an advantage in being green. The $2.7 billion global company, headquartered on the remote Danish island of Als, derives more than 50% of its revenues working on products affected by regulations or voluntary standards.

"Fighting pollution and global warming and such things is really a grass-roots movement in Europe, much more than in the United States, and we have tried to turn it into a business," says Jorgen Clausen, president and CEO of Danfoss. The company's operating strategy is to help customers in North America, Europe and China become more competitive with more efficient products while also respecting and protecting the environment. Its business in North America, primarily U.S. based, is growing 40% a year. Its business in China is growing 35% a year.

Danfoss CEO Jorgen ClausenMuch of Danfoss' success appears to come from collaborative partnerships with customers. "If they are developing a new model of whatever they do, we will work very closely with their engineering department, and sometimes we change also our own products so they exactly match their requirements," Clausen says.

Danfoss, for example, is working with Manitowoc Ice, a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based Manitowoc Co. Inc., to bring its ice machines into compliance with efficiency standards mandated by 2005 federal energy legislation. " We went out and found suppliers that were willing to work with us on driving efficiency in our machines, and Danfoss is one of the companies that very much stepped up to the plate," says Mike Rimrodt, product line director at Manitowoc Ice.

Since 2003, Trane, a part of Piscataway, N.J.-based American Standard Companies Inc., has had a global agreement with Danfoss to provide variable frequency drives for the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment it sells to building owners. "The variable frequency drives Danfoss manufactures for Trane help maximize the energy efficiency and savings in HVAC fan and pumping systems," relates John Conover , president of Trane Americas.

Providing technical solutions to help customers meet energy-efficiency standards is a defining way Danfoss does business, indicates John Galyen, president of Danfoss' North American refrigeration and air conditioning division. Noting that a compressor is the largest current-drawing component of a refrigeration or air conditioning system, he states: "We can make an impact by making that component more efficient. We also leverage our controls background and knowledge to make the system more efficient." In concert with Clausen, he emphasizes that Danfoss also differentiates itself from other suppliers is by being green. "When we're coming up with ideas for sure there is a commercial aspect; it has to be viable commercially," he states. "But . . .it also has to be good for the environment. It can't detract," he stresses. "We don't look at the non-green way out."

About the Author

John McClenahen | Former Senior Editor, IndustryWeek

 John S. McClenahen, is an occasional essayist on the Web site of IndustryWeek, the executive management publication from which he retired in 2006. He began his journalism career as a broadcast journalist at Westinghouse Broadcasting’s KYW in Cleveland, Ohio. In May 1967, he joined Penton Media Inc. in Cleveland and in September 1967 was transferred to Washington, DC, the base from which for nearly 40 years he wrote primarily about national and international economics and politics, and corporate social responsibility.
      McClenahen, a native of Ohio now residing in Maryland, is an award-winning writer and photographer. He is the author of three books of poetry, most recently An Unexpected Poet (2013), and several books of photographs, including Black, White, and Shades of Grey (2014). He also is the author of a children’s book, Henry at His Beach (2014).
      His photograph “Provincetown: Fog Rising 2004” was selected for the Smithsonian Institution’s 2011 juried exhibition Artists at Work and displayed in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., from June until October 2011. Five of his photographs are in the collection of St. Lawrence University and displayed on campus in Canton, New York.
      John McClenahen’s essay “Incorporating America: Whitman in Context” was designated one of the five best works published in The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies during the twelve-year editorship of R. Barry Leavis of Rollins College. John McClenahen’s several journalism prizes include the coveted Jesse H. Neal Award. He also is the author of the commemorative poem “Upon 50 Years,” celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Wolfson College Cambridge, and appearing in “The Wolfson Review.”
      John McClenahen received a B.A. (English with a minor in government) from St. Lawrence University, an M.A., (English) from Western Reserve University, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University, where he also pursued doctoral studies. At St. Lawrence University, he was elected to academic honor societies in English and government and to Omicron Delta Kappa, the University’s highest undergraduate honor. John McClenahen was a participant in the 32nd Annual Wharton Seminars for Journalists at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During the Easter Term of the 1986 academic year, John McClenahen was the first American to hold a prestigious Press Fellowship at Wolfson College, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom.
      John McClenahen has served on the Editorial Board of Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies and was co-founder and first editor of Liberal Studies at Georgetown. He has been a volunteer researcher on the William Steinway Diary Project at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and has been an assistant professorial lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


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