It looks like an average, yet stylish, office desk. But press a button and a hutch automatically rises from the back, exposing a flat-panel monitor, speakers, a printer and storage areas.
Press the button again and the hutch descends, providing wide-open work space. The desk is the first product available from upstart Arise Innovations Inc. Partners Tom Doane, 39, and Jeffrey Hallal, 48, have a patent pending on the design and have sold production rights to Jasper based Inwood Office Environments.
Inwood named the desk the DLH Pointman Organizer, in honor of Hallal's son, Deryk Lyell Hallal, a U.S. Marine who died in Iraq last year. Deryk was a point man in his squad.
"This venture and this idea was not born in an atmosphere of palm trees and sunsets," Doane said. "It was born among clouds, but we believe in a higher power, of course."
Doane, who is president of the company, met Hallal in 1996 while both were members of College Park Church. Doane's familiarity with the furniture industry is extensive.
He is a sales representative who covers the territories of southern Indiana, southern Illinois and western Kentucky for Doane Keyes Associates, the Peru-based officer furniture wholesaler his father founded.
Hallal, who serves as vice president, spent 13 years as a financial adviser for American Express Financial Advisers before leaving in 2002 to get involved in Arise Innovations. He also is the military veteran liaison for the Field of Valor memorial at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Doane created the concept for the desk believing the office furniture industry lacked an innovative product. Hallal sought the engineers who could perfect the technology. The desk is meant to combine style with security and allows users to store items inside the locking chamber.
The pair unveiled the Pointman in June 2004 at the NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago. Despite its poor positioning inside the building, the desk generated significant buzz, Doane said. At this year's show, the desk was voted one of the 10 best products there.
Inwood began marketing the product in October, to marginal sales so far. But Doane said a two-year window is necessary to gauge success. Besides receiving a licensing fee, Arise Innovations is paid a royalty on every unit sold. The desk retails for less than $2,000.
Doane and Hallal are not about to rest on their laurels. Doane said they have a "really cool idea" for a major appliance in the works.
Tom Doane, left, and Jeff Hallal have high hopes for their innovative desk.