Big plans in Minneapolis, but IPS still loves LI

Intelligent design: The opening of Intelligent Product Solutions' Minnesota office is part of a larger expansion plan, according to President Mitch Maiman.

With a three-year-old Seattle office growing steadily and a new shingle hanging in the middle of Minnesota’s red-hot digital-medicine ecosystem, Intelligent Product Solutions is in full-on expansion mode.

And there’s more to come, promises President Mitch Maiman, who references several “geographies” – the Southwest, perhaps, or maybe near one of Canada’s emerging industrial regions – as potential worlds to conquer.

But fret not, champions of Long Island’s innovation economy: The Ronkonkoma-based product-design, engineering and software specialist will remain exactly that – Ronkonkoma-based – for the foreseeable future, according to the boss.

“We have no plans to move the headquarters, nor do we plan to shrink the Long Island operation,” Maiman told Innovate LI. “But we do plan to expand in [Washington State and Minnesota] and in other geographies, maybe even outside the United States.”

Those, however, “are not 2017 plans,” according to Maiman. With the ribbon officially cut on IPS’s Minneapolis office Oct. 17, the next year will be largely devoted to building staff and operations at the company’s third site.

Tim O'Brien: IPS's man in Minneapolis.

Tim O’Brien: IPS’s man in Minneapolis.

For now, the new office boasts one employee: Vice President of Sales Tim O’Brien, who has 25 years of technology sales and marketing experience, including a stretch as VP for Minnesota-based Internet of Things ace Exosite and various leadership positions at Logic PD, a “product lifecycle management” expert also based in the Twin Cities region.

Noting O’Brien’s “extensive sales and team-building experience,” Maiman said he was the right man to lead IPS’s “rapid expansion and growth” in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Corridor – fertile ground, the president added, for a cutting-edge product designer with forward-thinking IoT capabilities.

“We did a deeper dive on the market analysis and got a clearer sense of the market opportunities there,” Maiman noted. “It really is a hotbed. It’s actually much more robust than here in New York or even Seattle, with a concentration of large medical-services companies and large number of startups around that perimeter.”

That deep dive also revealed “a market gap where we think we can fit in very nicely,” according to Maiman.

“There’s not as much competition in that market,” he noted. “There are gaps for a company that offers services like we do.”

For that reason, the president said he expects Minneapolis operations to ramp up quickly – at least, quicker than progress has occurred in Seattle, where IPS opened its first satellite operation in 2013.

Maiman is not talking down the Seattle office, which has grown to 12 employees and is IPS’s beachhead on the shores of giants including Amazon and Microsoft, which are both headquartered in Washington State, and Google and Arrow Electronics, which are both headquartered elsewhere but maintain robust Seattle operations.

In fact, when IPS announced in January that it had been named an Arrow Consulting Engineering Services partner by Colorado-based Arrow Electronics, Maiman credited the ACE partnership at least partly to his Seattle office, telling Innovate LI that his company was “starting to engage [Arrow] in the Northwest region.”

But IPS’s Seattle satellite faces “some fairly capable local competitors,” Maiman noted, and “we don’t see that in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area” – so verticals that have been slower to develop on the West Coast, including software engineering and certain industrial-design capabilities, should happen “much quicker” in the Twin Cities.

“The thinking is the customer base (in Minneapolis) is going to be much more diverse, so we’ll more quickly round out the team with design and software capabilities,” Maiman said.

The Seattle office still factors significantly into IPS’s 2017 strategy, according to the president, who said adding those software-engineering and industrial-design functions to the Northwest office’s existing capabilities – which focus on mechanical, electrical and systems engineering – is “on the agenda as we grow.”

“The Seattle operation still has plenty of room to grow,” Maiman added. “But it may still take a couple more years until it has the critical mass I’m looking to see.”

While it builds that critical mass in the Emerald City and hits the gas on O’Brien’s Minnesota operation, IPS will continue to scout markets for new potential expansions. There is “nothing firm yet,” Maiman stressed, “but we’re always looking for opportunities.”

“There’s only so fast we can grow, and grow with quality,” the president said. “So for 2017, we’re really going to focus on building out the Minneapolis operation and expanding the operation in Seattle.

“After 2017, there are several other geographies in the United States where I can see potential, such as in the Southwest or in Texas,” Maiman added. “And I can see potential expansions in both Europe and Canada, where we have some opportunities.

“But those are on the further edges of our radar screen.”