Montie Roland

Sept. 24, 2009
An accomplished designer gets his kicks helping entrepreneurs.

The Rundown

Name: Montie Roload

Title: President, Montie Design; President, RTP Product Development Guild

Organization: Montie Design, www.montie.com; RTP Product Development Guild, www.rtpproductguild.com

President Emeritus: Carolinas Chapter of the PDMA

Education: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, N.C. State Univ., Master's level classes in Industrial Design, N.C. State Univ.

Best career decision: Marrying Connie

Hobbies: Target shooting, camping, hiking, and mountain biking

Tell us about how you help entrepreneurs. Our firm has a mantra that “a rising tide raises all boats”. Simply put, we think our success as a firm is related to the strength of the design community. The freedom given to me by the Montie Design commitment to the local design community has made it possible for me to participate in the founding of the RTP Product Development Guild. The Guild has a mission of improving the regional economy by encouraging the development of local product-driven companies.

The RTP Product Development Guild has two subgroups. One is the RTP Product Design & Prototyping Co-op. The other is consists of venture teams. The Co-op is a local network of design and prototyping professionals who work together professionally and know each other personally. The Guild also has teams of local design, marketing, business, and sales professionals who work on teams to help budding entrepreneurs develop their product concept to the point where they can seek angel investors.

Once a year, the Guild hosts the RTP Product Design Street Faire (www.rtpstreetfaire.com). This is a free, outdoor event held in September of each year. Designers, engineers, and vendors spend a Saturday networking and learning about locally available services.

Did you ever consider doing something else with your life besides engineering? Not really, I knew when I was really young that I wanted to either be an architect or an engineer. I just enjoy design.

What do you feel are the traits and habits that allow you to excel in engineering? Leadership, integrity (despite my character flaws), and faith.

If a young person approached you for career advice about pursuing engineering, what would you tell them? Engineering is something for people who like engineering. Find something you are passionate about and learn to be very, very good at it, but never stop enjoying what you are doing so you can end up with work you are proud of.

What do you feel you get out of working with entrepreneurs? Tom Vass and I started the Guild in 2007. Since then working, with the Guild has taken a portion of my work week. I’m passionate about how a stronger design community benefits the entire community and feel fortunate that I’ve had the luxury of integrating the Guild into a regular part of my work week.

Part of my job as President of Montie Design is to lead the marketing efforts of the firm. My work building up the local design community helps establish Montie Design as a leader. I’ve had a tag line on my e-mail for some time that says “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” I’ve always felt like that quote had three facets: encouragement through leadership, encouragement through helpful relationships, and helping clients achieve really great results by having a team that enjoys product design and takes pride in their work.

How big is the team on one of your typical projects? Montie Design and the RTP Product Development Guild are small organizations so we generally don’t have big teams, perhaps two to six members. Guild projects involve six team members plus the product champion/entrepreneur. This size lets us access the resources we need and get what we need done within the established project time frame.

What kinds of things does your team work on? Montie Design is a generalist firm, so we don’t really limit ourselves to specializing in just one particular area. We also provide services that include fuzzy front-end development, industrial design, mechanical design, electrical design and business-case development. Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of working on projects ranging from utility-scale solar-power generation, to rack-mount enclosures, to firearms-related products. We’ve also done specialized instrumentation and even unusual things like a bicycle rental station. Our firm treats industrial designers as customers and as end-user advocates who are expected to fight for an excellent customer experience. This approach makes it possible for design fun and is professionally satisfying.

Edited by Leland Teschler

About the Author

Leland Teschler

Lee Teschler served as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design until 2014. He holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan; a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan; and an MBA from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Penton, Lee worked as a Communications design engineer for the U.S. Government.

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