Extreme Sports Enthusiast Leads the Charge to Bring Functionality to the Point of Task
As co-founder and CEO of DTG, Steve Shaheen has been driving the shift to mobilization for years. He clearly sees the potential of advanced mobilized battery power to untether everything from warehouse workstations and POS stations to stovetops and concession stands.
We spoke with Steve recently as part of our Executive Spotlight series to get his insights on how mobilized power is enabling companies to significantly reduce operational inefficiencies, how to bring functionality to the point of task in industries as diverse as hospitality, healthcare and warehouse logistics, and where DTG goes from here.
Tell us how DTG came to be.
Through years of selling mobile computer carts in the healthcare industry we saw firsthand that fixed battery solutions were problematic. The carts enabled physicians and nurses to move technology devices from room to room to monitor and collect patient data. But this approach required that the devices get plugged in at the end of each shift, or the next shift was left without the tools they needed to do their job. Drained batteries were a common occurrence, causing the hospital to fall out of compliance with electronic medical records (EMR) regulations.
So, we looked for a solution. At the time, my DTG co-founder Patrick Ney was working on developing hot-swappable battery systems and this evolved into a mobilized workstation that we could patent and deliver as a reliable solution that enabled hospitals to more efficiently capture and retrieve data at the bedside.
We saw a similar evolution taking place in logistics, driven largely by ecommerce. The market was still in its infancy when we were approached by one of the largest ecommerce retailers in the world to help find a solution to reduce operational inefficiencies and improve safety. Employees were working long hours doing repetitive, physically strenuous work in fast-paced environments to receive, pick, pack and ship items around the world. They had to traverse the chaotic warehouse floor to get to a fixed workstation.
We developed a mobile cart that was rugged enough to be used in a warehouse and untether employees from fixed workstations, allowing them to safely access applications and data at the point of task and eliminate wasted movement. The carts are equipped with safe, reliable, hot-swappable Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery systems that enable them to be used 24/7. Today, our warehouse distribution carts are used in hundreds of the company’s distribution centers.
Tell us about your role as CEO.
I see the CEO role as driving the organization’s strategy and ensuring we continually find new opportunities. It’s also important that customers, partners and prospects have someone they can go to with a problem, and that person has the energy and focus to think outside the box to identify solutions.
Most of our business stems from situations like that – someone coming to us with a problem and asking if we have ideas that would help them move forward and increase their productivity. While exploring potential solutions, we also need to ensure that those solutions can be monetized beyond that particular scenario. Therefore, we own what we develop ─ our solutions are not exclusive to any one customer.
I also work with our team and partners to explore new markets that may benefit from mobilization and our advanced battery solutions.
What are some of DTG’s biggest opportunities for growth?
The opportunities to leverage mobilization are endless. Take office furniture, for example. Even prior to the pandemic, more and more people wanted to work from home and when they did go into the office, they didn’t want to be isolated in a cubicle. Mobile technology has given them an opportunity to work anywhere and find settings that are more conducive to creativity, collaboration and comfort. Adding battery-power to furniture enables them to be moved anywhere.
Hospitality is another area ripe with possibilities. We’re hearing from a number of companies looking to offer mobile food and barista carts to boost the employee experience. We’ve also seen strong interest in our mobile, battery-powered solutions from concession companies that understand the need to enhance the guest experience, differentiate themselves, reduce long wait times, and deliver exceptional service. That’s where advanced battery power comes into play. No longer do their food and beverage stations need to be stationary and positioned next to an AC power source.
Logistics, distribution, fulfillment and air freight operators are being hit with a perfect storm of rising prices, high turnover and low unemployment, and companies are struggling to maintain a stable supply chain workforce. Automation can help ─ not by simply replacing workers but by making their jobs safer, more productive, and less physically and mentally taxing. It’s never been more important for companies to be as productive and efficient as possible while reducing wasteful operations in an effort to do more with less.
What is driving this shift to mobilization?
After the past few years of supply chain chaos, soaring prices and severe labor shortages, companies across most industries have had to redirect strategic initiatives and budgets to mitigate the impact of those threats. They have needed to create efficiencies wherever they could and look for ways to reimagine the customer and employee experience.
Where do you see DTG five years from now?
A lot of companies have made significant investments in battery-powered mobile technology. We believe a key area of focus going forward will be to optimize those investments through utilization analysis, providing insight to validate ROI and improve operational efficiencies. Since the possibilities of mobilizing productivity to the point of task are endless, I see us expanding into new markets that are yet to be explored.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’ve been active in offshore sport fishing for years, and my new passion is eFoiling, which involves riding an electrified surfboard with a hydrofoil that lifts the board and rider over the surface of the water at speeds in excess of 30 mph. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, surfing and martial arts.