By Gigi Wood
They’re creating their first product and constructing their first building.
Innovative Software Engineering, a software development company in Coralville, is entering its next stage of growth. After being housed in the University of Iowa’s business incubator, the Technology Innovation Center at the UI’s Oakdale Research Park from 2002 to 2006, the company moved a few blocks away to its own space within the park at 2658 Crosspark Road, Ste. 200.
In a few months, the company will move again to a building it is constructing behind Gus’ Food & Spirits, which is across Highway 965 from the Crosspark Road location.
The building will be two stories tall to accommodate the company’s anticipated growth due to its first product launch. For now, ISE will lease the ground floor. The city ofCoralvillehelped the company secure a $1 million Midwestern Disaster Area Revenue bond for construction costs. The bonds were created by Congress to encourage business development in presidentially declared disaster areas following the 2008 floods. That funding, along with low interest rates, spurred ISE to make the investment.
“The building has allowed us to take advantage of the current financial climate, low interest rates and the bond financing, so it lowers our risk for our financial commitment,” said Hass Machlab, ISE’s president.
The company started as a collection of former Rockwell Collins engineers who had similar ideas about software design. For the past several years, they have worked with various industries to create software customized to those businesses’ needs. ISE is hired when available software, such as a web design program or other applications like Microsoft Word or Excel, no longer fit a company’s needs. ISE’s clients are typically large corporations, such as John Deere, Intermec and McGraw-Hill.
“We’ve become a very strong ally to our customers because we’ve done this many times, so we have a proactive process that gives you a guarantee for success,” Mr. Machlab said.
Those companies hire ISE to outline the needs of the new program, identify the software requirements of the new program, design it, create it, test it and then provide support for it.
“We architect it,” he said. “We decide how to put all the pieces together and we design it and then we write the software. We take all these different pieces we’re working on and we integrate them. Then we start testing them until we get to the final product. That differentiates us quite a bit from companies that just write software.”
ISE announced in October the launch of its new company, ISE Fleet Services. ISE partnered with QSI Corp., a hardware manufacturing company, to produce a product ISE engineers have spent years developing.
That product is eFleetSuite, a computer and software used by the trucking industry to meet federal compliance requirements, prevent accidents and increase driver productivity. ISE created the mDash 4, a low-cost, customizable on-board computer designed to improve fleet scored when rated for compliance by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and other entities.
“Our forte is with the transportation industry,” Mr. Machlab said. “We develop software that allows fleets to comply with regulations, mainly the DOT hours of service and fuel tax compliance and things like that. So over the years, as we’ve developed this custom software, we’ve developed our own product. When you build the software, you’re not the owner of the software.”
The partnership with QSI allows ISE to provide a new solution to ISE trucking clients.
“It’s an integrated system; it’s a computer that collects data from the driver, the engine and other truck electronics and components and it makes computations that makes sure that the system is complying with the regulations,” he said.
Federal requirements will change in 2012, making it more difficult for trucking companies to reach compliance. ISE’s eFleetSuite will help manage those requirements. The product will become available in January.
“We’re very excited about that,” Mr. Machlab said. “We think we have a lot of knowledge to bear and a lot of experience from doing many projects over the years and have an incredible team pulling this all together.”
To meet the demands of the new company, ISE hired sales managers inChicagoandNorth Carolina, where trucking companies are located that use the system.
ISE Fleet Services will also produce a system to assist trucking companies with vehicle inspection reports. ISE DVIR is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-compliant application that automates DOT-required vehicle inspection reporting and recordkeeping.
“It’s very easy-to-use, very intuitive, it eliminates all of the paperwork,” he said.
In the future, ISE Fleet Services hopes to develop additional products, such as route management systems.
ISE employs 25 people, seven of which it hired this year. Additional hires will be made as demand increases for the new product, he said.