There aren’t many small to medium-sized businesses that can say they work with business behemoths like Disney, Motorola, General Electric, Bosch, Oster, Weber, Medline, Singer, Loreal and Whirlpool. But one company with those kinds of substantiated bragging rights has been growing in Arlington Heights since 2009.
Optimal Design Company was founded in 2003 by three young engineers educated at Purdue University and Michigan State University. After working for large companies for a few years where they each worked on only a handful of projects, Sajid Patel, Joe Wascow and Dan Williams teamed up to open Optimal where they resolved they would “innovate for life” and offer wide-ranging design services.
And that is certainly what they have done, designing everything from rugged phones to a pool pump, wearables that monitor biometrics to an orthotics scanner, and cutting-edge sewing machines to the world’s first Android computer tablet.
“Now every day is exciting because we get to work in so many different areas, from things for Hollywood to medical devices,” Patel said. “We are even in partnership with a virtual reality company that offers virtual reality experiences in 15 dedicated spaces around the world and we design and manufacture the necessary gear here in Arlington Heights.
“The first device we designed was the brainchild of a Glenview attorney who wanted an exercise machine he could use while sitting at his desk and now, 17 years later, we are working on 4G and 5G mobile phone technology, digital signs that monitor traffic and air quality, healthcare monitors, beauty technology and much more,” he added. “We are even working on a wearable device for the U.S. Olympic team.”
Potential customers and partners generally find Optimal Design Company at large trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, online or by word of mouth from previous customers, Patel said.
For instance, six years ago Singer embarked on a nationwide search for a new design company to take them into the future, and Optimal Design was the victor after five rounds of competition. Interestingly, in order to compete, Patel said that Optimal Design engineers spent lots of time at the Arlington Heights JoAnn Fabrics store, learning to sew and talking to both customers and staff about what they would like their sewing machine to be able to do.
Similarly, when they are working on innovations for Weber Company barbecue smokers, Patel said that employees are routinely told that there are ribs available for lunch because the engineers involved have been experimenting.
“We offer firms expert level design and engineering to help them produce the products of which they have dreamed, and while most of our customers are consumer companies, we occasionally develop items for industry like the device that crumples the packing paper you see inside packages shipped to you when you order online,” he added.