Darren McIntire Joins The Fredricks Design Team!

Darren McIntire Joins The Fredricks Design Team!

We are thrilled to introduce Darren McIntire, the newest addition to the Fredricks Design team! We’ve worked with Darren on various projects and assignments since 2003. As a highly sought after Mechanical Designer, we are lucky to have him join our group here in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Darren McIntire joins our team with a focus on design engineering for our creative product solutions. He has diverse business experience from R&D product engineering to mechanical engineering design and automotive interior experience working with Tier One suppliers and vehicle build companies. With his deep design experience, technical knowledge using Solidworks (and some CATIA) we know Darren will approach every project with a technical and analytical viewpoint, which is one of the great skill sets he brings to our core team.

Please join us in welcoming Darren to Team Fredricks! We are delighted to continue building our team with amazing talent like Darren, and are excited about our future together!

Fredricks Design Celebrates 35 Years… Cheers To Our Clients!

Fredricks Design Celebrates 35 Years… Cheers To Our Clients!

Fredricks Design, Inc. — A Startup 35 Years in the Making

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Fredricks Design, Inc. This is a success story founded on vision, collaboration, and our commitment to producing top-notch industrial design and engineering work for some of the world’s best companies. We have been fortunate to work with great client teams, and we are just getting started.

The spark of a vision for our firm was ignited over tapas and drinks in El Puerto Santa Maria, Spain. We returned from Spain in 1984 with visions of creating something new.

Later that year in 1984, Fredricks Design was started in the city we still live and work in today, Grand Haven, Michigan. Brothers Maury Fredricks and Bruce Fredricks started the company with hard work, good luck, and loyalty to our wonderful clients. Well-equipped with knowledge, design and engineering experience, and a deep commitment to doing things well, the company refined its skillset and made many enhancements to the team throughout these past 35 years to create the incredible company we are today.

What Has Changed in the Past 35 Years?

Starting with a few clients in the automotive and furniture industries, to our recent work on themed entertainment rides and props, autonomous vehicle interiors, advanced seating, consumer products and more, we’re proud to continue our work with some of the most demanding companies in the world. Over the past 35 years, we have seen worlds of change in the design and engineering industry through technological influence, globalization and industry advances.

From designing on manual drawing boards with pencils and velum to the introduction of cell phones into the workforce, and now to a fully computerized network of design and engineering tools, Fredricks has evolved and grown from a two-person team to eight core team members and a dozen consultant designers and engineers working together with a commitment to excellence in our work.

We have expanded our core capabilities through partnerships with excellent suppliers and build resources to bring our projects to reality. We love working with our partners through every step of the design process. When it comes to our clients, we provide the engineering details that bring concepts to the next level. Over the years, our clients and teams have trusted us with their projects and in doing so, have become our family.

What is Next for Fredricks Design?

We are now moving into our fourth decade of family-run, second-generation design and engineering projects. We are truly blessed to be in this business working with our sons and our fantastic team!

Please join us in our celebration of this key milestone for Fredricks Design. We offer a world of thanks to all of our clients, advisors, suppliers, and team members for making our success possible over the past 35 years. What a journey!

We cannot wait to see what lies ahead for the future of design and engineering innovation and for Fredricks Design, Inc. There are always problems and challenges that need to be solved, and we will use our 35 years of experience, combined with our continued ambition to keep pushing for innovative, creative ways to help develop those solutions!

bruce and maury fredricks

Fredricks 35 years logo

Neocon 2019 Review

Neocon 2019 Review

Neocon celebrated 30 years at the Merchandise Mart last weekend, June 10-12, 2019. The annual event coincided with a pivotal time in the furniture market. The market is flat or below the baseline for the overall GDP and innovation is lacking in even the newest offerings. Seemingly, it’s all been done before.

Many of the showrooms exhibited loose offerings of casual and transitional space furnishings. There were no “stars” of the show and more of the same from previous years.

All companies, large, medium and small need to listen to their design leadership and then push back on strategy, new products and 30 years of best of neoconenhancements for existing product offerings. The voice of product and seating design was turned down to a whisper at the show. Design, marketing, engineering, finance, and manufacturing should all have an equal place and voice on big decisions. But, it was evident that everyone was in a risk management mode; few, if any bold design moves were shown in the spaces I explored. The balance of all functional areas in a company is easy to talk about but tough to apply given the pace of competition and pricing pressures in the market.

Over the next few weeks, leadership teams will shake off the fatigue from the show, recharge with brief vacations and then get back to work. Step one should be a collective, long look in the mirror and open exploration of real-world problems. We don’t need another sectional or coffee table to decorate our offices or universities. We do need to continually focus on ergonomics, user interface, privacy, collaboration and…well, the list goes on.

“Are we working on the right problems?”

Restructuring the Furniture Industry For Today’s Market

furniture on display It’s a great time to be a consumer of products, goods, and services. We have all been spoiled by content at our fingertips and next day (or next hour) delivery of almost anything we can imagine or desire. Amazon and DoorDash are here to stay.

This means that all furniture brands need to focus on ease of order, personalization of products or specials, accelerated delivery, quick set up and immediate support for questions about products. To raise the bar even further, order quantities should be one or a few units.

The large players in the market are set up to push big orders through the system and old habits will take a long time to change. Small, innovative companies do not have the capital to invest in advanced concepts or compete for big accounts. This leaves the mid-sized companies in a great position to take market share while partnering with innovative, agile startups.

Taking Notes from History

We experience this set of circumstances in the “new mobility” space. Global OEMs and large Tier One suppliers are partnering with boutique design and engineering firms to move quickly from research into ideation and through concept development before committing big money to manufacturing plants and fixed labor costs.

furniture at neoconThe furniture market can be compared to the movie industry where old school studios owned the resources and were vertically integrated. This allowed the studio almost total control of the process and investments. The entertainment industry is known for cost overruns and weak performance at the box office. Something has been changing. Streaming content services and almost unlimited bandwidth have provided power to the consumer of digital content, movies, music, and apps. The furniture market can learn from this history and apply key lessons to pivot to offer the customer choice, short delivery times and excellent support.

Lastly, vertical markets are continuing to converge. The built environment (vehicle, office, university or patient room), user interface and human factors will continue to be key areas of focus for any marketing, design and engineering team. Any business of any scale needs to deliver excellent solutions to the consumer at the right price point.

Interested in learning more about Fredricks Design’s ideas for the future of the furniture industry? Please contact us to arrange a detailed discussion about our industry insights. We would love to learn more about your upcoming projects in the office, healthcare, and educational environments.

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Fredricks Design Updates: Themed Attraction Trends

Fredricks Design Updates: Themed Attraction Trends

Themed attractions are consistently trending towards immersive, captivating experiences that take park guests out of the everyday and transport them to another world. From The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to new, immersive Jurassic Park attractions, guests are looking to be entertained and thrilled all at once. As the industry embraces and invests in emerging technologies, we’re able to create better, more immersive attractions that entertain and delight. Here’s a look at some of today’s themed attraction trends making rides and experiences more immersive and entertaining:

Dark Rides

Dark rides have been around since the late 1900s, when they were called “old mill” rides and passengers would sit in a small boat as they were transported through wooden canal systems. In 1928, the first single-rail dark ride (The Pretzel, by Leon Cassidy) was patented, and since then new technological advances in video quality, sound, and capabilities of the attraction properties themselves have taken these rides to the next level.

Dark rides have a unique ability to remove guests entirely from the natural world and take them somewhere completely new with immersive features like lighting, video, and even actors and live performers moving throughout the experience.

This new dark ride by California’s Legacy Entertainment will be the world’s first dark ride to integrate both live performers and stunt shows. Produced for the Trans Studio Bali theme park in Indonesia, this ride will feature all the aspects of dark rides guests love — attractive, immersive video and an exceptional original music score by Benoit Jutras — plus additional features like motion base vehicles, and most notably, live stunt performers and actors that will make the ride, called Road Rage, one of a kind.

This new trend of dark rides offering both a ride and a show is one furthering the immersive entertainment aspects of themed attractions, and we’re excited to see where it goes.

Multisensory Experiences

Audio and visual technologies have been used for years to transport guests to another world. New trends in themed attraction development are now incorporating all of the senses, taking themed attractions to the next level. Incorporating touch, smell, and sound with dark ride technology, new sensory experience attractions are gaining much popularity.

Right now, Disney’s Avatar: Flight of Passage ride may be the most notable multisensory attraction in a park, though BBC and Sega’s collaboration, Orbi, an experimental natural history theme park in Japan, offers another impressive multisensory experience. Orbi invites visitors to step into 12 different natural zones that look, smell, feel, and sound like the real thing, from Yellowstone to the polar ice caps.

Multisensory experiences are just finding a foothold in themed attraction, but when they deliver an exceptional, realistic experience like these examples, they’re sure to keep growing, resulting in longer guest stays at the park and repeat visitors.

Personalized Experiences

In an increasingly impersonal world, personalized experiences in themed attractions are gaining popularity. While this technology is still developing, the idea of personalizing a guest’s experience in a themed attraction or at a park has certainly taken hold.

At the National Comedy Center, for example, guests are offered an RFID bracelet to scan. With the bracelet, they are able to tell a kiosk what types of things make them laugh. From that point on, their entire visitor experience is personalized for their sense of humor.

This type of personalized experience is what today’s consumers are looking for, and we won’t be surprised to see themed attractions take on the concept of personalization to offer guests a unique, one-of-a-kind experience, every time.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been in development for quite some time, but it only continues to improve themed attraction experiences for guests. VR has the unique ability to totally transform a guest’s experience, and it offers the immersive ride qualities that today’s consumers are looking for.

The versatility of VR ensures that themed attraction parks can recreate old experiences, or reprogram an attraction space for a new experience, with a significantly smaller investment. As VR technology improves, the themed attraction experience also improves.

Though VR still presents some tricky development aspects — motion and images must be timed perfectly to ensure guest comfort — it’s a themed attraction trend we know will be sticking around for quite some time.

There’s a lot happening in the world of themed attraction, and we’re always excited to learn about design and technology trends making rides and attractions more entertaining and immersive.

Fredricks Design is a leader in themed ride and animated prop development, and we’d love to help you develop concepts and properties that complete and enhance the immersive qualities of your ride’s experience. For more information about our work and past themed attraction projects, give us a call.

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How Collaborative Product Design Boosts Manufacturing Profitability

How Collaborative Product Design Boosts Manufacturing Profitability

Manufacturing companies frequently run into roadblocks when developing new products. It’s never easy to create something that’s brand new and totally innovative, no matter if you are a mid-sized company just breaking into the industry or a well-established manufacturer with years of successful product development behind you. Open innovation and collaborative product design are key ways to help your company break through these roadblocks and develop a product that’s both innovative and profitable.

For many, the idea of collaborative product design is an unknown. Inviting another team to help develop your project is a daunting thought for many, but when you actively incorporate another team of experts, you open your product up to a variety of new perspectives that help differentiate and make your product better than what’s already on the market. Innovative networking, especially with reputable, experienced product design and engineering firms, will help you produce better ideas. And better ideas mean better products and better profits.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that collaborating with a product design and engineering firm can boost your manufacturing profitability:

Leverage Multidisciplinary Expertise

While your team has highly-specific, relevant experience within your company and industry, a design and engineering partner will have more diverse experience in a variety of industries. The product differentiation that comes from this diverse experience is what will help set your product and your company apart as a leader in your market.

For example, the Fredricks Design team regularly partners with clients developing vehicles, seating, consumer products, and healthcare solutions. In any project we take on, we’re able to apply our experience in each of those industries to design and engineer a product that’s both innovative and functional. Collaborating with a product design and engineering firm offers your team an additional range of expertise that can be applied to develop a unique, innovative, and profitable product.

Expand Internal Capabilities Without Hiring New Team Members

New product development is a complex endeavor. Most often, companies turn to either a product development partner who can complete the feasibility process and who has the capacity to engineer and build products, or they hire on a new engineer for a short period of time to do the same work. We dive extensively into this choice in our article New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team, but you might consider that partnering with a product design and engineering firm can expand your internal capabilities quickly and effectively, without the hassle of hiring a new, temporary team member.

When you partner with an experienced design and engineering studio, there’s no need for training or catching engineers up to speed. Rather, this collaborative approach offers all of the creative and design capabilities you need, while keeping your product moving swiftly to market without interruptions or delays.

Control Project Costs

Great product design conserves budget. A design and engineering studio understands this and works with their clients and partners during every product phase to develop innovative designs that meet budget constraints. When you work with a design and engineering firm, your contract will specify your budget and expense capabilities, ensuring your product development remains within those constraints. What’s more, a reputable design and engineering firm will have relationships with build sources and property fabricators and can work closely with all parties to develop and engineer a product that maximizes your company’s return on investment.

Reduce Time to Market

A key contributor to your product’s manufacturing profitability is how quickly you can move a quality product to market. Collaborating with a professional design and engineering studio offers a number of benefits that help reduce your product’s time to market. First and foremost, they’re able to apply relevant past experience to your product, which helps speed the development process along.

Additionally, you’ll have just one responsive point of contact throughout development, making it easy to communicate and make adjustments in real-time. Finally, a product design and engineering team has a deep understanding of the development process. They know how to overcome technical obstacles that could delay product introductions, and can help you address any obstacles before they become an issue, ensuring your product reaches the market on schedule.

Collaborative product design boosts manufacturing profitability by helping your company develop a new, innovative product that is differentiated from other products already on the market, that meets project cost budgets, and that moves to market swiftly. By partnering with a reputable design and engineering studio, you are able to leverage their multidisciplinary experience, expanding your team’s capabilities without the hassle of hiring temporary or contracted engineers.

If your manufacturing company is looking for assistance in developing a new, innovative product for your market, get in touch with Fredricks Design. We collaborate with manufacturing teams in a variety of industries to develop profitable products that stand out from the competition. Let us know what we can innovate for you.

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The Guide To Solving Design and Engineering Team Roadblocks

This guide outlines three steps to help your design and engineering teams breakthrough innovation challenges.

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