SCADA Solutions Since 1981





History of DFS

Data Flow Systems began as the brainchild of Tom Smaidris and his father, Frank.

Frank, having retired from the U. S. Air Force, had taken on the task of maintaining the telephone line telemetry system that monitored lift stations in the city of Melbourne. He expressed to Tom that the system was fraught with headaches and lacked reliability. Tom opined that the problem was in the phone lines and that could be easily solved by switching to radio communications. Frank issued a challenge to his son: "If you think it's so easy, do it!"

Tom, whose work at Harris Corporation in Palm Bay included radio telemetry for satellite uplink systems, accepted the challenge, recruited his coworker, Brent Saunders, as his partner and started Data Flow Systems in 1981.

It was at this inception of DFS, in a 300 square foot office over a beauty salon in downtown Melbourne, Florida that the hallmarks of the DFS product line were set:

  • the design would be kept simple;
  • improvements would not require a change in the basic design;
  • the system would be user-friendly so that the average utility worker could take advantage of the system's capabilities;
  • the system would be geared toward high performance and rigid reliability;
  • the product would resist obsolescence;
  • we would offer the best warranty in the business;
  • customers wouldn't have to pay for software upgrades ... we'd give them away!

In 1982, DFS landed its first customer, Acme Improvement District (now the Town of Wellington in Palm Beach County). Tom and his dad actually installed those first RTUs, intended to control some distant well pumps, while Brent began directing the never-ending task of improving the system. Bryan Kattwinkel was brought onboard to develop the server software; engineering staff was added to develop the hardware. In 1989, Steve Whitlock joined DFS as the first Sales Manager.

The business plan actually called for DFS to design and manufacture the systems while the installation and service would be contracted to others. But their efforts to find a reliable installer that placed the same emphasis on quality control as they did produced little more than frustration. They made a decision that would further distinguish this upstart company -- DFS became the only telemetry company that designed, manufactured, installed and serviced their product.

During the later 1980s, the company moved into and grew out of a 3500 square foot area and, in the early 1990s, they took possession of a 12,000 square foot facility that allowed them to expand their services and capabilities to include custom control projects for water and wastewater plants. They had grown into one of the largest telemetry providers in the southeastern United States with over 100 water utility installations. DFS' name began to find its way to new parts of the country as carefully chosen value-added resellers in the northeastern states, the Carolinas, Texas and California began to introduce their regional customers to the DFS product line.

DFS continued its growth through the turn of the century. In 2002, they acquired a modern, 31,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Melbourne's industrial district. But this time, they made certain that there was room to expand without moving -- the facility is located on 17 acres.

After more than a quarter century, Tom Smaidris and Brent Saunders still steer the Data Flow Systems ship. Under their direction, DFS has become the largest provider of radio and network-based SCADA systems in the southeast United States. The TAC II telemetry system is now a touchstone in the industry and our systems engineering department has become one of the premier purveyors of custom plant and control systems. As of 2010, the ranks of our utility customers have swelled to over 250 systems with more than 10,000 installed RTUs in 15 states across the country.

The stage is set for continued growth over the next 25 years. We are proud of our products, our personnel and our progress and we are grateful for the loyalty of our customers and the opportunity to serve the water industry.