Company Spotlight: Casey Dierking (Software Developer)

Casey Dierking  joined the Lean Tech team in May of 2018. In addition to his software developer role, Casey brings digital media and graphic design experience to our team. Casey likes to learn and his balance of creative and practical ideas has been a welcome addition to our team. Now that the dust has settled following a whirl wind of a start at Lean Tech (moving, having their second child, and starting at Lean Tech within a span of 6 weeks), we recently asked Casey to share a little more about himself and his new role.

1. What drew you to Lean Tech?

I was drawn to Lean Tech because I wanted to be able to contribute and make a direct impact on the company and its customers. Lean tech provides that opportunity. The team members here are also incredibly smart, encouraging, and always creating learning moments. The culture is healthy and everyone enjoys the work we get to do together. It’s a recipe for success that I wanted to be a part of.

2. You are raising a young family. How has fatherhood shaped you in the last 3 years?

There are a lot of different takes that I could talk about how fatherhood has shaped me over the last 3 years, but one that immediately comes to mind is in just one word. “Grit”. I absolutely love being a father to my two girls (3 years and 5 months) and a husband to my amazing wife. But if these last 3 years have taught me anything, it’s how to keep going even when both kids are screaming and you are running on 3 hours of sleep. It’s pushed me as a person to become better because I recognize my limits and how far I can really go. I think it’s also taught me that there is permission to fail and learn from our mistakes. I also don’t take naps for granted anymore.

3. Tell us about the entrepreneurial spirit in your household. What is your latest project outside of Lean Tech?

I think it’s important to always have passion projects outside of your normal work. In my life, it keeps me sharper and helps me not become stagnant in the day to day. I think that this carries over into my normal work and continues to make me a better employee. Coffee is a huge passion of mine and my family’s so it was only natural we’d dive into starting a roasting business. About a year ago, my wife opened up a coffee shop and ran that for a year, but after moving to a new town and beginning work at Lean tech, we were left searching for good quality coffee here in Pella. We couldn’t find any so we decided to create our own. We think life is too short to drink mediocre coffee. Seriously, we just love coffee. [Try IRIS Coffee Company here]


By |2018-11-06T14:57:11+00:00November 6th, 2018|Culture, People|0 Comments

Company Spotlight: David Garner (Software Developer)

In January 2018, David joined our team from Kansas City, MO. David is as good as they come. He has a bright mind and loves to think through how to solve difficult processes and break them down into manageable tasks.  We asked David to answer a few questions so that Thrive users could know a little more about him and his contributions to the platform so far.

1. What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

My primary responsibility is software development here at Lean Technologies. While there are many technical aspects of developing software I also meet with customers personally to understand their needs and pain points. This has better allowed me to develop our products from a user perspective. Being close to the customer is one of the things I enjoy most about my role.

2. What were your first impressions of this industry?

Before I came to Lean Technologies I had minimal exposure to the manufacturing industry. Thrive touches many aspects of a manufacturing business so there was and still is a lot for me to learn. One of my initial findings was just as in software, manufacturing too has many buzzwords and acronyms.

3. What originally attracted you to working at Lean Tech?

One thing that initially attracted me to Lean Tech was our size. I was looking for a place where I could fulfill my interest in software and business. I can directly affect the outcome and direction of our product because of everybody’s willingness to hear and act on new ideas. This is what keeps me excited and what continues to move Thrive forward.

4. What else do you like to do for fun?

In my free time I enjoy staying active. You can find me exploring the trails around Lake Red Rock or running. I also enjoy developing mobile applications and I most recently have taken up yoga.

5. Words to live by — What are yours?

Don’t Take Anything Personally

By |2018-10-19T15:43:09+00:00October 5th, 2018|Culture, People|0 Comments

Company Spotlight: Erich Thalacker (Software Developer)

In May, Erich joined our team full time after interning with us last winter.  He has really hit the ground running and cares about how our customers use the product. We asked Erich to answer a few questions so that Thrive users could know a little more about him and his contributions to the platform so far.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a 22 year old recent college grad who loves being active, hanging out with others, and continually learning. During the weekdays, when I am not at work, I enjoy reading and coding even more. I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) and I want to start Lord of the Rings soon after. I also love reading books about psychology and entrepreneurism. I am attempting to learn Swift so I can make apps for the App Store. It is nice to start from the beginning of learning a language (rather than hitting the ground running like I did at work) so I can understand the concepts more fully. On the weekends I find myself spending time with my friends and/or doing outdoor activities (currently into rollerblading and tennis). Since I am a recent college grad, I will have to adjust to not going back to school for the first time in 17 years. I am excited to see where life takes me and all the fun the future has in store.

2. What do you love most about working at Lean Tech?

I love that Lean Tech encourages an environment of freedom and personal responsibility while still providing a great support system to help you when you get stuck or need help with your work. I enjoy being able to struggle and think through problems, but when I am unable to figure out the solution, my teammates will happily come and dig into the issue with me. Coming from a non-traditional path of schooling for software development (Biology and Biochemistry majors from Central College), there are many technical terms that I do not know yet or perhaps there are other algorithms and techniques that I haven’t heard of. However, the whole team is readily available to help me learn. I feel like I have been getting a crash course on software development and it’s pretty amazing to see where I started to where I am now.

3. How would you describe the culture at Lean Tech?

I think Lean Tech has some of the best people, ability and personality wise, which makes working enjoyable every day… even through pesky git conflict issues. I feel like bigger software companies would struggle to keep friendships (workships?) alive like we have. We are all really relaxed. Additionally, I love that the work I do directly affects users rather than just working on some big program that has already been built that affects a select few. The work and development I do at Lean Tech is implemented into the product quickly and directly placed into users hands soon after. It is great to see and participate in the development process from beginning to end.

By |2018-09-26T19:22:45+00:00September 28th, 2018|Culture, People|0 Comments

Company Spotlight: Sam Magee (Summer Intern)

In May, we welcomed Sam Magee to the Lean Tech family for the summer. Sam has been key in helping us complete and deliver custom projects for customers. We asked Sam to answer a few questions so that Thrive users could know a little more about him and his contributions to the platform this summer.

1. Tell us about yourself, where are you from/what are you studying?

My name is Sam Magee, and I am from Cedar Falls, IA. I am currently a junior at Central College in Pella, majoring in Computer Science. I started my internship with Lean Tech over the summer following my sophomore year in 2018. Web development and design have been of great interest to me ever since my family got our first computer at home. Something about websites and how they work intrigued me, so once I started, I just had to keep going!

2. Tell us what you do as a Software Developer at Lean Tech.

As I said, websites/web apps have always been my forte, so when I learned that there was a job like this in Pella, I knew I had to apply! I was looking to improve my skills in writing code and that is exactly what I have done as a Software Developer at Lean Tech. At first, I was a little nervous about learning a completely new codebase, totally different from anything I had ever worked with beforehand. However—the initial training, along with continued help from the team, allowed me to quickly get used to Thrive and its inner-workings. My knowledge from other personal projects I have worked on gave me insights that let me solve complex challenges—something I very much enjoy to do.

 Most working days are spent fully immersed in the code. Everyone is given their space and the time to focus on their projects. This allows us all to work efficiently with each other and on our own. Before having joined the team, I had grown used to working on my own, and I was somewhat skeptical about what it would be like to join a team (but also very excited). I was very impressed to see how well the team motivated me to work harder, and how it made me more efficient overall.

3. What did you like about a project you worked on? What did you learn?

I was given the opportunity to build out a large part of a new module, “Customers.” Starting with an estimating tool, I was able to communicate directly with the customer and get feedback, which guided me in adding all of the features involved, including a drawing tool that connects to the estimates. This specific tool, along with a new “Customer Activity” section, was built in a different way than most other pages in Thrive. This meant that I was challenged to think outside the box. Because these made me think a lot harder than I may have while working on pre-existing pages, I think it made me a better developer overall.

4. What are some of your greatest joys at work?

My favorite times at work are when I finally solve an issue that I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about and working on. The rush I get from completing a project or fixing a bug is incredibly motivating, pushes me to do more, and oftentimes allows me to reflect my solution to other areas I work on.

5. How have you enjoyed working in a small town, on a small team?

Working in a small town, on a small team has been great for me. Having lived in Pella for the better part of two years during my time at Central, I have learned a lot about the town, but working at Lean Tech, I have learned much more about the area and the community inside it.

Being part of a smaller team has made me feel like I have a bigger part in the company. I always felt safe about sharing my opinion in team conversations, knowing that it would be considered and respected by everyone involved.

6. What are your goals for the next years?

Throughout the next few years, I hope to finish up my education at Central. My main goal, however, is to continue to learn as much as possible about the industry. My experience at Lean Tech has confirmed to me that I want to remain in the web development field, as I very much enjoyed my time as an intern. In the future, I anticipate that I will continue in the industry, and I hope that my work will be put to good use in any future projects I am involved in!

By |2018-08-17T14:31:07+00:00August 17th, 2018|Culture, People|0 Comments

Does the coach need to know how to tie his shoes?

Let’s imagine that Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts didn’t know how to tie his shoes.  We actually don’t know if he knows how to tie his shoes.  We assume he does.  But let’s say he didn’t.  Let’s say he has Mr. Equipment Manager on his staff ensure that he always goes onto the field with shoes on.  Let’s also assume that Mr. Equipment Manager, recognizing that equipment selection is an important part of making their football team successful, is also responsible for outfitting the team with shoes.  Now the players may understand how to tie their own shoes and put on their own gear, but it’s Mr. Equipment Manager who invests the time to determine what is the best set of tools for the team to ensure victory every Sunday.

Tony Dungy, who led his team to a Super Bowl victory, quite possibly did it without knowing how to tie his shoes.  Does this bother anybody?  Not me.  But I think the tech community might be concerned.

I don’t get worked up by a lot of things, but the tech community (of which I consider at least peripherally involved, considering I make software for the manufacturing industry) has certainly gotten me frustrated as of late.

The most recent involves the discussion I’ve been watching that is taking place at the Personal Democracy Forum 2008, more specifically comments regarding McCain and the fact (?) that he does not know how to use a computer.  And now there is some “giggling” among some regarding this video.  Regardless if I am a McCain supporter (I am not…my candidate’s gone), do I expect “Can use a computer” to necessarily be on the president’s resume?  And what are they expecting out of the president when he/she is on the computer?  Should they be using email?  Word?  Twitter?  Programming in VB.NET?

It seems like there could be countless equivalencies in other areas:

  • I would expect the president to understand the value of healthcare, but should I expect him/her to know how to operate a blood pressure monitor?
  • I would expect the president to understand the value of national security, but do I expect him/her to know how to actually gather intelligence?
  • I would expect the president to understand the value of education, but do I think he/she needs to be able to write a lesson plan?
  • I would expect the president to understand the importance of infrastructure, but do I think he/she should be able to operate road paving equipment?
  • And the reason for the post: I would expect the president to understand the value of technology, but do I think he/she needs to be able to operate a computer?

It just seems weird to me.  I hope the president is a great leader.  A great leader would understand the value of these things.  A great leader would be able to lead great people in moving the country forward.  So I would expect the president to hold other people accountable for ensuring success in the respective areas I mentioned above.

I sure hope the president’s typical day isn’t filled with activities like this:

  • Spent time examining the manual for new medical imaging device
  • Wrote curricula for fourth grade science and seventh grade literature classes
  • Searched for and found 15 new friends on Facebook

Of course this is a generalization, but the tech community seems to me to be a gigantic high school clique that is sitting around snickering about the “kick me” sign they stuck on someone’s back today.  And they’re passing notes back and forth on Twitter and laughing because the teacher doesn’t know it’s happening.

By |2008-06-24T16:43:33+00:00June 24th, 2008|Culture, People, Politics, Technology|3 Comments

Stop and smell the roses

Would you stop to listen to a musician who commands $1,000 per minute?  Really?  For the answer on how over 1,000 other people responded read this absolutely fascinating article.  Pretty interesting snapshot of our culture, our busy-ness, our priorities, and our appreciation for beauty.  Allow yourself some time…the article is not brief.

The article also references Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance), a movie which I was just thinking about the other day.  I had seen it in college, so I Googled it and lo and behold it’s available online for viewing.  Check that out here.

Also, my good friend Patrick posted this (below) recently that’s definitely worth seven minutes of your day.

By |2008-05-23T13:34:28+00:00May 23rd, 2008|Culture, Fun, Life, People|0 Comments

The Incompetence Ratio

…in America must be really high.  Some businesses count on it.  Credit card companies thrive on it.  They are hoping that people are so incompetent that they will not be able to pay in a timely fashion and can collect more money in the long run.  They are hoping for people who are bad stewards of their money so that they can collect more in interest.

What reminded me today of "Incompetence Ratio" is the text message I just received on my phone.  "Redbox free MONDAY night rental."  At the end of the message it said, "Fwd to friends."  Giving stuff away for free?  Crazy?  Nope, they just have faith in the incompetence ratio.  They know that if they get the message out to enough people, there will be enough people in the mix to not return their movie the next day…hence, having to pay $1 for every day late, and for some people who lose their DVD or completely forget about it…a $25 "you-own-it" policy.

By |2008-04-14T10:40:18+00:00April 14th, 2008|Business, Culture, Life|0 Comments

Alltop: do you really like staring at a magazine rack?

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t.  Guy Kawasaki (author of one of my favorite books, The Art of the Start) recently launched, which he has branded as "the online magazine rack" for information from the "top publications and blogs".  I’m sure in a lot of circles (okay, maybe most circles), there has been zero buzz about Alltop (I guarantee my wife, my friends, my dad, my in-laws, general public have never heard of it…I would venture that no one I have been in contact within the last week has heard of it).  In the world of bloggers and technologists, there has been much discussion, and of course if you subscribe to Guy’s twitter-feed (what in the world is twitter?) you would know that just about every other tweet has something to do with Alltop.


Does this picture look interesting to you?  This is "push" not "pull"

…then you might like Alltop.  If being inundated with information and you like "browsing" then Alltop will provide a great place to browse and start getting information.  Alltop gives ("pushes" from a consumer standpoint) all of the latest headlines from around the Internet.  The "magazines" are arranged into categories and sub-categories (like work, living, people and within those maybe career, food, and egos).  If you don’t really know what you’re looking for, this might be helpful.  However, the "magazine" most useful to you may not be available on this "magazine stand" because the information for "sale" is being determined by the magazine-rack owner.

The people that probably most need Alltop don’t know about Alltop

Referring back to the people I mentioned that don’t know about it–my wife, dad, general public, etc.–these are the people that are less inclined to use some kind of RSS aggregator to subscribe to blogs.  Understanding blogs and the technology and usefulness behind them is not easy for this group of people.  They could benefit from finding this magazine rack of headlines from different blogs to start finding useful information.  However, since all of the buzz (as far as I can tell) about Alltop mostly exists within the community of bloggers and people that are already living in "this world", then the people that need it the most are still missing out.

The people who know about Alltop probably don’t need it

Guess who’s talking about Alltop the most?  The people that have been featured on Alltop!  Wouldn’t you?  I suppose I might have a completely different opinion about Alltop if I was featured on it.  However, I would surmise that generally these people do not need Alltop because they are probably already to subscribing to the information most relevant to them.  I can’t imagine any of them would actually spend much time "browsing" the "magazine-rack" at Alltop.

I want the stuff delivered to my front door: "pull"

I contend that people who still want the information delivered to their "front door" will still use RSS aggregators.  I want to subscribe to the information I want ("pull") and not have to fish through everything else to get what’s most relevant to me.  I don’t want 200 magazines dropped on my doorstep everyday that I have to waste time fishing through to find the things I’m interested in.

When would I use it

Okay, having said all that, there are instances I would use it.  Old-school instances would be like the old days of going to the public library or accessing some other reference material.  For example, if I suddenly took an interest in cooking, I would probably start at to find some useful information.  However, I would never make my browser homepage.  I would find the sites most relevant to my needs and then subscribe to things I would want updates on.


If you normally spend a lot of time at the airport or on a street corner staring at the endless choices of publications available, then Alltop is your online substitution.  If you are busy and want to use your limited time to get information most relevant to you, then stick to your preferred method of subscribing to online resources.

By |2008-03-17T11:19:56+00:00March 17th, 2008|Culture, Innovation, Life, People, Technology|4 Comments

State of Iowa sheds pounds!

I was impressed to read an entry on the Lean Insider blog about the Government of the State of Iowa taking on lean initiatives. They have improved processes, reduced long wait/lead times for government approvals, reduced re-work and process steps, and eliminated backlogs of work. Read more of the above article to see further information regarding their improvements.  It will be interesting to see if I ever personally feel the effects of an “easier-to-do-business-with” state government, and definitely encouraging to hear they are focusing on customer needs (like timeliness and quality) and trying to add value for its “end-users”. Go State of Iowa!

By |2007-11-13T17:35:03+00:00November 13th, 2007|Culture, Government|0 Comments
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