Clay & Milk: Design Mill Inc. is Virtually Connecting Fortune 500 Companies
Over a dozen Fortune 500 companies are using the Dubuque-based company Design Mill Inc. because they take laser scans of facilities or properties and convert them into desktop or virtual reality viewing. Then they integrate technology that helps visualize that data in virtual reality, in real time.
Some of their clients are in the commercial real estate, technology and manufacturing industries.
“If you are sitting in your office in Des Moines and have 100 locations you are responsible, you would have a laser scan of each facility that’s been converted to virtual reality,” Nathan Greiner, President and Chief Technology Officer, explains. “So it has real-time sensor data attached to it. You just pop on your glasses and teleport yourself to that location.”
Greiner says colleagues from other parts of the world can be part of the virtual meetings.
David Proctor—Chief Operating Officer—says they now have about a dozen clients mostly from the Fortune 500.
“We have multiple instances of companies that recognize the power of virtual reality,” Proctor says. “It’s allowing you to, when we add our content to the environment, we can do anything with it.”
Greiner says it’s been challenging but after winning the Intel Innovator Award in 2015 and 2016 he feels like the world is starting to recognize them.
“That accolade from the largest chip maker in the world that we’re doing innovation has given us some credentials” Greiner says. “So it doesn’t really matter where you are if you have the talent and the capability. Why not do it where you want to do it?”
Because a tech company had Midwestern roots, Greiner says he felt the company was overlooked at times because they were based out of Dubuque.
“What they don’t understand is that we keep our heads down and nail it time and time again,” Greiner says. “It’s great sometimes to be underestimated because when you nail it you blow everybody out of the water.”
But because of the cutting-edge subject matter they don’t have a hard time finding people to work for them.
“It’s easy for us to get young, budding programmers to come work for us,” Greiner said.
Proctor says they’ve partnered with the engineering program at Iowa State University on multiple projects.
They have interns this summer from Iowa State University.
“It’s interesting because many of those folks that know us and have met us, would gladly come and work for us over moving to California and getting caught up in Silicon Valley,” Proctor says. “We’ve had a lot of favorable comments.”