Cousins turn ideas into reality
Addy HatchJune 14th, 2002
POST FALLSCousins Cory Siverson and Chad MacDonald say theyre like everyone elselooking for that million-dollar idea.
To get where theyre going, though, they help other companies and individuals develop their ideas.
Their young venture, Siverson Design, specializes in product designessentially, taking someones concept and turning it into a prototype of a manufacturable item.
Siverson, 26, and MacDonald, 25, work their magic with a couple of computers loaded with computer-aided design (CAD) software and a computer-numeric control machine, which creates prototype parts based on their designs. The tidy operation is based in Siversons parents garage in Post Falls.
Siverson launched the company with a $50,000 bank loan in January 2001, and MacDonald joined him six months later.
Although they had some lean monthsSiverson says his first months revenue was just $115the company is gaining momentum.
Currently, for example, theyre working on a prototype for Itronix Corp., the Spokane-based maker of rugged computers. Its their first commission from Itronix, which has asked them to design a rack system that could be manufactured for it to test the durability of its portable computers and other products. The rack can hold up to five units at a time and can adapt to hold several designs.
Other projects Siverson Design has tackled include a series of small plastic racks that a Seattle biotech company wanted for growing and testing protein crystals; a device that can be used to locate underground gas lines; and a mechanism for holding small circuit boards so they can be tested, which was made for a supplier to Dolby Laboratories for one of Dolbys audio systems. The prototypes are designed using a CAD program and produced at Siverson Designs office with the computer numeric-control machine, which is a smaller version of one that a machine shop would use.
Typically, Siverson and MacDonald will have about five projects going at the same time, they say; past projects have ranged in price from $115 (that first job) to $35,000.
Although they decline to release the companys annual revenues, they say their goal this year was to triple their 2001 revenue, and they were halfway to that goal by the end of January.
Were just about to be able to have enough money to break through to the other side, to not have to eat beans and ramen, Siverson says. We can go out to fancier restaurants
like McDonalds, MacDonald chimes in.
In truth, Siverson Design is about four months away from being able to move out of the garage, Siverson predicts.
MacDonald says the arrangement has been great for us, partly because of the free rent and partly because Siversons father, Ron Siverson, is a mechanical engineer with 35 years of experience, who has been an invaluable resource.
Whats more, MacDonald notes, Hewlett-Packard started out in a shed out back. This isnt anything to be ashamed of.
Siverson decided to launch the company after working for a Coeur dAlene manufacturer, Communication Devices Inc., and having worked for his father doing computer-aided design projects, he says. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso and at the University of Idaho, but didnt graduate, he says.
His cousin, MacDonald, joined him after graduating from Washington State University with a masters degree in business administration. MacDonald also has an engineering degree from the University of Idaho.
The two say that their success so far can be attributed to several factors. First, they both are aware of the need to market themselves and the business, they say. Siverson says his father has invented a number of products in his lifetime, but theyve been little ideas that never made it because of the of marketing.
Learning from that example, Ill go out and Chad will go out and make sales calls, Siverson says. If business starts slowing, theyll get on the phone and cold-call potential clients, they say.
Second, Siverson Design promises and delivers fast turnaround, often meaning the companys owners work through the weekend.
Engineering firms can keep operations going seven days a week using us, Siverson asserts.
Third, Siverson and MacDonald say theyre sensitive to a products aesthetics, and take pains to make sure that their prototypes and designs look as good as possible before they go out the door.
We try to make everything look like a million bucks, MacDonald says.