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Left Coast Engineering: Where Ideas Become Realities in Escondido

Some of the team in Left Coast Engineering offices

In an unassuming building on Escondido Boulevard that still displays an old Radio Shack sign, new products and technologies are being imagined, designed, and built daily - from cutting edge devices for Alzheimer’s patients to futuristic defense technologies. 

“There is always something buzzing here,” said CEO Anita Baranowski. Along with her husband Rob, who serves as president and lead design engineer, the two run Left Coast Engineering, an electronics product design firm that creates everything electronics including software, software interfaces, and controls as well as electronics equipment, apps, and electronics encasements.

Rob and Anita began their business journey 20 years ago when they both worked for Six Flags Theme Parks in New Jersey. Rob was a software developer and Anita worked as a PR manager. Together, they saw an opportunity. “Theme parks are all about guest services,” said Rob, who combined his technology background with Anita’s public relations expertise to create the first theme park navigation and scheduling app, which at the time was used on PDA devices. “It seemed like the next step in guest services, to create guided tours via wireless PDA.” This app gave users the ability to get fast passes on rides, wait time information, and so much more.

This design and development, along with various consulting projects on the side, investments from friends, family, and TCA (Tech Coast Angels), helped them segue into Left Coast Engineering.

They currently employ nearly 20 full and part-time employees, interns, and contractors who work on projects big and small. Any type of project idea is welcome at Left Coast Engineering, “We work with large companies and individuals. We are approached by people with ideas all the time and are happy to help out,” Rob said.

Rob explained that many clients walk in with an idea but not the know-how to complete it. He and his team work with the client to understand the idea from all angles. Together they dig into the requirements that include the design flow, user requirements, the look, feel, and size of the product, storage, care of the product, and so on.

“We help them understand all the aspects that go into design. Once we understand how it is used and what it needs to do, that’s when the product design comes in and with our experiences, we can put a product into place that fills those requirements.”

In addition to helping clients build their products, Anita and Rob also help them navigate the way they bring their products to market. Part of the success of Left Coast Engineering stems from the couple’s patent on their theme park app, which they have retained ownership of.  From their own experience, they help their clients understand the importance of patent protection and the process for securing a patent. Finally, the Baranowski’s guide their clients through the many aspects of marketing their product and how to bring it to market successfully through social media and various marketing outlets.

Left Coast Engineering has designed and developed more than 150 new products which are all cutting-edge technologies in use and concept. “Sometimes these products are five-to-seven years ahead of their time,” said Anita.

Interior of Left Coast Engineering

Because of the sensitivity and confidentiality of the designs and technology infringement, Rob and Anita can’t discuss many of their product designs or clients openly, but did say they often work with the U.S. Department of Defense and feel it’s a great opportunity because, as Rob said, “We really get to push technology here. We enjoy working on government projects because there is a lot of cool stuff that they need and they need it to be successful.”

One product design they are very happy to talk about is a recent project they have been working on with a company called NeuroEm Therapeutics Inc., based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Together, they have developed the MemorEM™, a head device that uses electromagnetic waves to treat patients with Alzheimer ’s disease (AD). With the assistance of a caregiver, users wear the head cap during one-hour treatments twice a day. Left Coast Engineering designed the head cap, cable harness, and the control box that is worn on the arm. The clinical trials were conducted through the Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida and the device is having a direct impact on the AD process as treatments are showing preventative and reversed memory impairment in the trials.

For Rob, building this product has been a highlight in his career simply because of its impact on the lives of its users. “We are actually helping people in a life battle.”

While Left Coast Engineering works with companies throughout the US, Escondido is where they chose to open shop because it is such a central location for invention. The 15 freeway and the 78 corridor give vendors and customers easy access to their shop, especially when they are coming from Riverside, LA, and Orange Counties. Plus, Escondido’s Grand Avenue offers so many restaurants and cafés for meetings outside the office. “We love to bring our customers and vendors to lunch because Escondido has a lot of unique restaurants. We actually have a customer who likes to come to our location so we can eat on Grand Avenue,” said Greg.

The Left Coast Engineering team takes a break every now and then during baseball
season to have a company outing in the Lake Elsinore Storm's Owner's Suite.

Anita and Rob both agree that it’s cool that they are in the old Escondido Radio Shack building. Anita joked that she might put up a battery kiosk soon because so many people still come in asking for batteries. Although the sign outside is temporary, they do hope to keep it as a memorial of the once-great electronics outlet, and they do have some old Radio Shack items they keep around as their mini-museum tribute to the store.

Being in the building has its pluses too. Anita said some of the benefits are that it has allowed them to add many more capabilities in their R&D technology labs. “For instance, this building is well-suited to our recent additions of a temperature chamber, an RF screen room (that filters out interfering signals like cellular and Wi-Fi (for testing purposes), and 3D printing.”

They felt like the move to this new location was easy in part because the City of Escondido is such a supportive community when it comes to local businesses and managing their needs. “Every encounter we have had with business management has been good,”  Rob said.

“It is a priority in Escondido to help businesses stay in Escondido,” said Jay Petrek, Assistant City Manager for the City of Escondido. “When businesses outgrow their buildings, we make every effort to make their move a seamless transition. It is also great to see that new businesses can retrofit old buildings to meet their needs. The Radio Shack building is a well-known spot in our town and knowing a technology company is making use of it is great for our community.” 

Anita and Rob are happy to stay in Escondido. Like this ever-growing city they enjoy the excitement of creating new and innovative products here. “You never know what the day is going to bring,” Anita said. And Rob added, “We could do this for 100 years and never get tired of it.”

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