New Employee: Ron van Dijk
Ron van Dijk might be a newcomer to the MODYN team, but he’s no newcomer to product design. “I didn’t really have an intro, I just kind of jumped in and went for it. After 40 years, you just dive into a project head first. That’s what I like to do.”
As our newest Senior Creative Engineer, Ron is joining the team to help bring our concepts to life — which just happens to be his favorite aspect of the job. “My favorite challenge is taking a concept and making something out of it that is producible, that the assembly is right, and that is strong enough.”
This isn’t our first time working with Ron, either. This spring, we hired him as a consultant for one of our projects. And this autumn when we posted our ad on LinkedIn for a senior designer, we didn’t think this industry veteran with his own successful business would be interested in working for us long-term.
“I stumbled upon the ad on LinkedIn, printed it out, and grabbed a highlighter. I started marking it up and all of a sudden, the whole thing was green. So I called up Gert-Jan, and one thing led to another, and here I am.”
In our interview, we talk to Ron about his career, his interest in MODYN and what he hopes to achieve here.
Tell us a bit about your career before MODYN.
“So most of the guys in the office went to the technical university but I started as a mold maker and got my degree for that. After that, I got into injection molding and hot runners where you didn’t have any scraps — so direct gating from the plastic to the part — and that’s where I started with product development. I worked at that company doing product development and troubleshooting for the automotive sector, and it was intense, because there’s no room for failure in that industry. From there I got into engineering, following a course, then working at another company working on both internal and external projects.
When that company went under, I decided it was time to start my own. That’s when things really got exciting. At one point I had 26 people doing everything from design to engineering and even expanded with a machine shop so we could produce products, including injection molding so we could make molds and the first prototypes for companies. We’ve worked on quite a few projects over the years from Phillips shavers to coffee makers.”
So you’ve worked on quite a wide range of products over the years. What made you want to work at MODYN, a mobility design firm?
“So my specialty is in plastics, of course, because the molding industry was behind it. When it comes to mobility design I’ve worked on quite a few related projects, from rollators and scoot mobiles to the chain guards and lights for bicycles. But to be honest, for me, I don’t really mind if it’s mobility or not. Whether it’s a coffee machine that gets people moving in the morning or a stair lift for older people, my favorite challenge is taking a concept and making something out of it that is producible, that the assembly is right, and strong enough.
But what I also like about mobility design is how broad its scope is. You know, it’s not all automobiles, and you’ve seen that in MODYN’s work, taking on projects like backpacks which aren’t exactly moving, but allow people to be mobile. And I like the creativity involved in that”
So we know your title as Senior Creative Engineer at MODYN, but tell us a bit about your role and what you’ll be working on.
“Well in three weeks I’ve already worked on three projects! These were just things that we needed to get off the desk and over to the customer. And because of my knowledge of the plastics and molding side, I’m able to just make decisions quickly. As for my role here, I believe I’m making sure the concepts are turned into products that can actually be made. And because of my background, I can do that quickly without asking a lot of questions. As long as I’m on the same page as the concept designer!”
How does it feel to be back in a team like this? After running your own company for so many years, this must feel like a different dynamic.
“It definitely is, and I love it. I’ve been working alone as a consultant now for years from home.. So joining this team, there’s a lot more interaction, and we can discuss things together. I’m used to focusing and working on my own, and I do that when I’m in the office as well. But sometimes you get to a point you just need someone to bounce ideas off of. So when you have three, four, or five people nearby, you can get a lot more inspiration than if you’re just talking to yourself.
And you know, after years of working in this industry gaining experience and knowledge, I just want to share that with younger people. And you have a lot of young, talented designers at an agency like this. So, it feels great to be here and share that knowledge and pass it on to others.”
Is there anything in mobility design you’re obsessed with right now?
“It’s not really a trend or anything, but something I’d love to work on would be improving the safety of the bicycle. I’m really just amazed at how badly safety is represented in the bicycle overall. You know, there’s no way to show which direction you’re turning. And the lighting on bicycles tends to be poor — and it’s usually an add-on rather than being integrated. Can you imagine an automobile with lights just slapped on the front and back? Never!
Another thing about electric bikes, because my wife and I love to ride them, is the motor. With many electric bikes what they’ve done is take a standard bike and put a motor on it. But when you get up to speeds above 20 kilometers per hour or more, your steering wheel is too loose. It can wobble easily, and if you hit a pebble or something at that speed, it can be dangerous. So, I think there are a lot of design opportunities there.”
So when you’re not at work, where can we find you? Besides cruising on your electric bike?
“We’re not sporty, but my wife and I do love our electric bicycles and hiking together with the dog. I’m also often at my kid’s place spending time with them and babysitting the grandchildren. We always seem to be on the move. And then there’s my nothing box — the piano!”
Don’t forget to connect with Ron over on LinkedIn!