The new CEO at LoPresti Aviation, Rj Siegel, is shaking things up a bit. He wants to “Appleize” LoPresti, which means introducing the Apple concept of products to the aviation company. For Siegel, who was on the original Mac development team at Apple and was instrumental in the aviation applications of the iPod, it’s a natural progression. “The Apple concept of products is so ingrained into my psyche, it often defies language,” he says. “It’s just who I am.”
Siegel explains that what he took away from his time at Apple “was a clear understanding of what it takes to create and deliver extraordinary products. When I started, I thought I understood the mantra, ‘Insanely Great Products,’ with the emphasis on ‘Great Products.’ Eventually, I came to understand the emphasis is actually on ‘Insane.’ The world is full of very nice, safe and sane products — none of which make you jump out of bed in the morning. At LoPresti we always created technically excellent products, but now we’re kicking it up a notch.”
That means new products must meet three criteria:
- They must be innovative;
- They must be aesthetically seductive, both in form and function. “You must want to touch it,” he says; and
- They must work beautifully. “The interface between the product and the user must be seamless,” he explains. “The more you use the product, the stronger the bond between the two.”
While several products are in development — expect to see at least one unveiled at this month’s AirVenture in Oshkosh — the first “Appleized” product is the company’s new “Ice Skates,” introduced at the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association gathering earlier this summer.
Started from a clean sheet design, the wheel fairings are fireproof; include a NACA scoop to cool the brake and prevent brake fade; are made of a glass and carbon fiber sandwich construction to prevent cracking; feature custom designed quarter-turn fasteners instead of screws, which permit removal in less than three minutes; and feature a “huge” access door, he says.
The door, which Siegel says is “ergometrically designed to fit your hand,” was repositioned several times, which meant the company had to made six different molds to accommodate the changes. Even Siegel admits that may be a bit of overkill. “But have you ever tried to put air in a tire?” he asks.
Making all those changes so the product is “just right” is “what we did at Apple,” he says. “We had to test the products in the real world, then commit to make the change. The first iPod had four buttons, but that was wrong. We wanted it to be effortless, so the buttons went away and the controls became circular.”
With that change, he says, the company had to throw away all its tooling for the iPod and start over.
Siegel realizes he is at the perfect company to introduce the “Appleization” concept. LoPresti is a well-respected company and brand, but even more so, the family-owned company has always been forward thinking.
And while “Appleizing” products adds to the cost — using fasteners instead of screws added $350 to the Ice Skates — Siegel has no doubt there is a market for innovative products.
“Sure it drives the price up, but what we learned at Apple is that people appreciate elegance and everything we do to make life easier for them,” he says. “We’re designing for a discriminating consumer who is no longer satisfied with business as usual. In fact, we’re take it as our mission to set new industry standards.
“We want every customer who buys our products to turn and look back when they walk away — and then, maybe, smile,” he continues. “It’s about quality, fulfillment and pride in ownership. In consumer satisfaction, there’s always one leader in any sector. In our sector, it’s our goal to be more than excellent. It’s our goal to be the standard against which other products are measured.”
For more information: LoPrestiAviation.com.