Larry Tracewell has started a string of successful electronics companies and has multiple patents for product design, mostly in electronic packaging. He’s also started several high-tech electronics companies over the years.
One product he designed for a customer has the ability to secure and deploy an array of laptops while keeping them connected to power and network. During the design process, an engineer for the customer mentioned that he’d like to have that kind of functionality in his office desk. Since Tracewell had always worked with wood and appreciated good design, he went back to the basement where he’s started several of his companies and began building prototypes.
“Since a working laptop gets hot and excessive heat is destructive to electronics, I developed a cooling system that sensed the temperature within the laptop compartment and would gradually start quiet fans that would evacuate the hot air,” he says.
Tracewell has since produced many more innovative products at his Lewis Center-based company Caretta Workspace, which designs and manufactures computer desks, tables, and accessory products, such as file cabinets and coat trees.
Due to cost and market research, the ability to lock up a laptop is no longer in Caretta Workspace’s standard line of products, but its desks do offer the ability to manage computer wires, cables and power requirements.
“We can even integrate rack-mounted equipment, such as servers, audio visual equipment and data storage devices, directly into the desk,” Tracewell says.
The Metropreneur: How do Caretta products differ from other office products on the market?
Larry Tracewell: When people are shopping for office furniture, they have several options. They could go to box stores and find a relatively inexpensive desk made of pipes and glass or laminated particle-board products. They may come equipped with a wire grommet hole and possibly a hook to hang wires, but most do not. They could also go to an expensive full custom desk or modular desk system, which again may have functionality as a computer desk, but does not really get it from a management perspective.
By contrast, our desk has a large hidden cable tray embedded in the desk that can hold a large amount of cable. There are access points to that cable tray from multiple points throughout the desk, so anywhere you put your printer, monitor, or multiple monitors, computer or anything else, there is easy access to the tray, which gives a place to hide and route the cables.
There is a 12-position, surge suppressing power strip that is hidden beneath the work surface, attached directly to the cable tray. I designed the power strip so the plugs are set wide enough to plug in all of your devices without the large transformer plugs interfering with each other. The idea is that you can plug in all of your devices, hide all of the cables and you only have one power cable coming out. For this reason, you don’t have wires or power cables lying at your feet, and the desk can set in the middle of a room without having to see all of the wires.
Another way that our products differ is from the quality of the wood that we use. We use all thick solid cherry hardwood boards to make our products. You will not find this extremely high-grade wood in any off-the-shelf competitive products. The desk-top itself is made of 2.25-inch thick boards, and the finishing process that we use enhances the beautiful wood grain pattern. That makes each desk a unique piece unto itself. We also take pride that all of our wood comes from sustainable sources and is sourced from inside the state of Ohio.
For many other desks that you would find, desk assembly is a problem. Most desks will come with a lot of assembly required. You will get a pack of boards and confusing assembly instructions with a bag of unidentifiable hardware. If you ever want to move it to a new location, it is difficult, if not impossible to disassemble and relocate.
Our desks ship to a customer knocked down into its major components: desk top assembly, desk leg assemblies and cable tray. It all goes together with one size of standard machine screw, not wood screw, and because they are screwed into steel threaded inserts, it can be disassembled and reassembled time and again.
The assembly process should take 15 minutes or less. It also ships by standard UPS, or local customers can pick it up from our factory. In the last year, we have shipped to 30 states, including DC, and Canada.
We also pride ourselves in being a green company. All of our wood comes from a sustainable source and we have chosen environmentally friendly stains and finishes. Our manufacturing process is optimized to produce a minimal amount of scrap material. Also, with each desk that we sell, we make a donation to the Save the Sea Turtle Fund at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
[M]: In 1973, you founded Tracewell Enclosures with a series of injection-molded enclosures for electronics. How did your experience with that company impact you when you started Caretta Workspace?
LT: In 1973, I was working in the electrical engineering department at Ohio State University and had several other companies where I had developed various electronic devices. I knew from my experience that there was a need for an injection-molded plastic enclosure to package the electronics with functionality, like built-in slots for circuit boards, cooling vents and a range of other features.
There was nothing on the market like it. Our original enclosure was introduced that year at a major trade show in California, and while our products have evolved quite a lot, to date we have sold hundreds of thousands of that initial type of enclosure.
I see Caretta Workspace in a very similar way. There is a need for this type of product and there is nothing on the market like it. No one else is combining the functionality needed in a modern workspace, while using traditional materials in a new way.
To learn more about Caretta Workspace, visit CarettaWorkspace.com.