My Biz: Hiawatha company sells tablets, cases

MobileDemand was founded in 2003

Rebecca F. Miller photos/The Gazette

Assembly and shipping employee Andrew Ritchart prepares a shipment at Mobile Demand on Tuesday in Hiawatha. The company has been making rugged tablet PCs for a wide array of industries ranging from agriculture to warehousing to law enforcement. Their first market was the beverage distribution industry and they will introduce a line of rugged cases for Microsoft’s Surface 3 at the end of March and Surface Pro 4 at the end of April.
Rebecca F. Miller photos/The Gazette Assembly and shipping employee Andrew Ritchart prepares a shipment at Mobile Demand on Tuesday in Hiawatha. The company has been making rugged tablet PCs for a wide array of industries ranging from agriculture to warehousing to law enforcement. Their first market was the beverage distribution industry and they will introduce a line of rugged cases for Microsoft’s Surface 3 at the end of March and Surface Pro 4 at the end of April.

MobileDemand CEO and founder Matt Miller offers a straightforward explanation for how he succeeds in today’s business climate.

“It’s really a blend between innovation and marketability,” he said. “It’s about making your company and your product strategy meet a real market need.”

Miller’s Hiawatha-based technology firm is a leading provider of rugged tablet computers used by mobile workers in several industries, including agriculture, energy, field services, food and beverage, the public sector, retail, transportation, warehouses and manufacturing.

The company, a direct original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner with Microsoft, recently announced another venture: the creation of rugged cases that are easy to carry and maneuver for the Microsoft Surface 3 and Surface Pro 4 tablets.

Miller was working for another Cedar Rapids technology firm in the mid-1990s when he had the opportunity to create his own firm.

He founded the company, originally called Mobile Oasis, in 2003 and by the fall of 2004 landed his first client: a beer distributor in northeast Iowa.

“We learned that Anheuse-Busch was requiring their beer wholesalers nationwide to use a certain software that was best run on tablets,” he said.

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“That’s the opportunity that I knew was going to create the demand and I put two and two together and we put that company together with the right tablets to make that happen.”

The company employs 30 people in a 10,000-square-foot facility, which they moved to in 2011, and have nearly reached maximum capacity.

“We are having to put some plans in place for the next couple of years to grow for people and also for more warehouse and production area,” Miller said.

Part of the company’s business strategy is to offer software.

“We sell thousands and thousands of the Windows licensed operating systems on our tablets,” Miller said. Intel processors also are part of the package.

The company’s cloud-based services are another thing that sets them apart from the industry, as well as a service department that has developed a reputation for reliability and quick turnaround.

“Some of the other big companies kind of lose sight of that customer service aspect in all of this,” Miller said.

The company will continue to expand its offerings in a broad range of tablets, cases and services at various price points, much like a car dealership, Miller said.

“That’s what is going to propel us in the now, and in the future, he said.

“We just had an opportunity come about with NASCAR,” he added. “NASCAR is buying Microsoft Surface Tablets and they are looking to make them rugged, so they are looking at our rugged cases.”

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• Know a company in business for more than a year that would make an ideal My Biz? Contact Francie Williamson at francie.williamson@thegazette.com

 

AT A GLANCE

 

• Owner: Matt Miller/CEO

• Business: MobileDemand

• Address: 1501 Boyson Square Drive, Hiawatha, IA

• Phone: (319) 363-4121

• Website: ruggedtabletpc.com

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