Looking Back on IAAPA 2019 With A New Perspective

Looking Back on IAAPA 2019 With A New Perspective

Field notes from Orlando November 2019…

My travels last year included numerous trips to Orlando for client visits and a few days at IAAPA, the annual themed attraction trade show. Little did I know that my travels in 2020 would be eliminated by a global pandemic. Looking back on November 2019, it seemed like a simpler, easier time…

I attended a presentation by George Walker, Creative Director with Universal Creative. George launched into his presentation with a story about his youth and the theme park he built in his backyard in upstate New York. He followed his dreams and has worked on creative projects around the world and back to join the growing and innovative Universal Team based in Orlando. 

George’s message resonated with me before the pandemic, through the shelter at home period, and even more so now as I think about the future for our business and the challenges every company faces…we are living in a dramatically changed landscape. A few of his key points are paraphrased below:


Key Points from George Walker at IAAPA 2019

Achieve Authentic RealityFredricks on iaapa 2019 exhibit

A theme park is a story place. Themed entertainment is built on emotion and emotion comes from experience.

An experience is an event or occurrence that leaves an impression.

“When experience is the commodity, authenticity is the currency.” Authenticity is key.

These simple principles can be applied to any business, product, service delivery, or organization. Now, more than ever, we are all seeking authenticity in our personal and professional relationships. There is now no tolerance for bullshit or shoddy delivery on brand promise. 

We all need to take a reality check on what our client’s problems are and how we will deliver a differentiated and memorable experience on every engagement. It is an opportunity to improve ourselves, our teams, and our products and services.


Tell Your Story From the Heart

Our work with leading entertainment companies has sharpened our storytelling skills. We’ve been really lucky to participate in creative reviews with some of the world’s best talent and we have been inspired to up our game by their work. 

The best stories are delivered with passion from the heart using simple language and high impact, clean images. 

All companies and organizations are now confronted with the reality that budgets are tight and talent will be stretched thin while working in different ways. It seems like a great time for clear thinking and straight talk. We are all uncertain, a little on edge, and curious about what the future will look like as the economy begins to ramp up. 


Deliver an Excellent, Emotional Experience

There is an old saying that “we are only as good as our last project”. Brand promises are kept or broken through every client touchpoint and relationships are built over time. 

Our experience with cross-functional teams has proven that straight talk communication is essential in building trust. Thanks to our clients and diverse project experience, we have developed clear and simple project management tools to track progress on creative technical and commercial issues. Weekly updates are shared with key stakeholders to ensure we are tracking to plan with no surprises along the way. 

In many instances, we act as a designated or de-facto catalyst with the creative studio and engineering team to help keep everyone aligned on the established storyline and moving towards our project deliverables and deadlines. Authenticity and delivery on our promises have been a big factor in our success over the past few decades. 

The overall experience with any firm, product, or service is a sum-total of touchpoints and the end deliverables. 

Back to the simpler and easier time of November 2019…little did I realize that so much of what George Walker shared would be applicable as we step into our new and weird landscape! Relationships, trust, and follow-through on our commitments will be even more important as we fire up the economic engines and get back to work. 

Thank you for sharing George — we look forward to working together when the time is right!

Maury Fredricks

Jim Biros Celebrates 35 Years With Fredricks Design

Jim Biros Celebrates 35 Years With Fredricks Design

Today is an epic day! 

Today, we celebrate 35 years of excellent work with Jim Biros. “Jimmy” joined our startup on June 3, 1985 after a brief interview. Our vetting process, at the time, was limited to a quick check list.

Over the decades, many of our clients have requested (demanded) Jim’s involvement on projects. Jim has made a big impact on our business and every project he has worked on, from the early days of a drawing board, to now with CAD and almost every software language known to the design world. In addition to Jim’s design skills, he is very capable at building mockups and prototypes.

I could go on and on… Jim, we could not have grown the company without your contribution to our work and we owe you a huge thanks for your positive attitude and can-do spirit! You have made a positive and significant impact through your hard work over the past 35 years! Thank you!

We are proud of the company we’ve built together and look forward to the future…wherever it takes us! 

Maury Fredricks

Team Fredricks

CES 2020 Insights

CES 2020 Insights

​I had time to reflect on my way to CES 2020 last month. My phone continued to work at cruising altitude and I toggled between emails, texts and the constant stream of content coming across different channels. I finally turned the damn thing off and used my time in the air to think about my plan for the show.

My goal was to focus on the vehicle technology exhibits, to meet up with old friends, network with new contacts, and absorb as much as possible about new trends and technologies. You know what they say about well-laid plans…

The North Hall of the Convention Center is located, of course, on the north end of the strip. Travel from point A to point B takes more time every year. Things will get only get more congested with the opening of the new NFL stadium and the 1.5 m square feet expansion of show space at the Convention Center. There’s no such thing as too big in Las Vegas! I digress…

This year, there were multiple companies showing urban helicopters for last-mile transportation. In addition to well-established Bell Helicopters, Hyundai (Hyundai S-A1 electric Urban Air Mobility concept) is moving into this evolving space. Many of the automotive brands and suppliers highlighted autonomous vehicles geared towards comfort, entertainment, and human interaction and communication. These two trends will continue to point out where we are able to leverage new modes of transportation. This new day, in my opinion, awaits us in 2025 and forward. 

The biggest challenge to the real-world application of autonomous vehicles and air transport is the lack of infrastructure and practical safety guidelines. As described in my post from CES 2019, collaboration on a vast scale with government, large corporations, and innovative thinkers and startups will be required to begin to solve the significant challenges of infrastructure. I am encouraged by the risk-taking and scaled investment on display at CES every year. We are on the right path with lots more work to do.

I was very encouraged by the number of EV concepts on display. Henrik Fisker never gives up and he was at the show with his Ocean concept and taking orders for a nominal downstroke of $250. I’m not sure how the path to production will play out for Fisker. The car business is unforgiving, hyper-competitive, and capital intensive. 

Rivian’s RT1 was displayed in the Amazon exhibit along with numerous products designed to work with integrated Alexa, smart home, and communications platforms. There was even a motorcycle helmet with Alexa inside! I just want to get on my motorbike and ride!

Sony, yes that Sony, introduced their own EV concept car. My initial thinking is they invested in the concept to draw attention to the audio and video offering. It worked in spades since the concept was a highlight of the show. I was surprised, maybe shocked, to learn that Sony intends to enter into the EV space fully loaded with technology. The point of Sony’s concept is to show what it can do inside and outside a car, so there are 33 sensors, including radar, lidar, and cameras. The car also integrates Sony’s immersive 360-degree audio technology, 360 Reality Audio, which features speakers in each seat. Sony also built the capability for continual over-the-air updates into the car.

“This prototype embodies our contribution to the future of mobility and contains a variety of Sony’s technologies,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said at the unveiling.

Wow, who would have envisioned this future?

Mid-afternoon through day one at the show, the thought occurred to me that all this technology is being developed to make our lives easier, to save us time, and to improve our quality of life. This is not a new thought, of course, and the key is to be able to turn off our gear, think, talk with another human or just read a book — preferably a bound, printed book. The more gear we bring into our lives, the tougher it is to turn the stuff off and think. It’s a big-time dilemma!

We were fortunate last year to embark on and complete a kitchen renovation in our home. We’ve lived in the same bungalow for the last few decades and the renovation was long overdue. Early in the project design phase, I was asked by the general contractor if we wanted to integrate smart home technologies into the kitchen. I reflected on this big question and my recent visits to CES and responded with a measured “it depends on how we define smart home”. 

As we developed the design, we decided to apply LED lighting with dimmers and a NEST thermostat. We decided to hold off on the Ring doorbell and any other app-based functions. We can always add technology in the future. For now, we are happy with manual light switches and a fridge that simply preserves our food and makes ice with no problems.

Last week, I decided to commit to a digital fast for either two half-day blocks or a full day every week. This simple and rebellious act has already resulted in more time to think, reflect and work on things that really matter. We’ve become so reliant and expectant of the immediate response to every text, call and email that we’ve lost sight of the importance of meeting people face to face. Technology should be leveraged to help us live better lives and engage more fully with each other, as humans.

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