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One of my first business clients was a new start-up company with a novel  product that came to me in search of a way to reach the national platform in a way that would draw attention to their product with limited funding to reach their goal. The product had much merit, but like anything else, you could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, it isn’t going anywhere.


I had already designed their branding and marketing collateral, and I believed in their product and wanted to take them to the next level… although, I needed to be creative and work within the constraints of the limited funds and still reach their target audience. My creative solution was a bit of a gamble: entering a nationwide 2-part design contest sponsored by NASCAR that had the nation’s eyes set on the immense advertising and marketing that surrounded the contest.


The contest was 2-fold: 1) Enter your in-depth essay as to why your company deserves the recognition of being chosen to graphically grace the presence of one of NASCAR’s vehicles; and 2). If your essay was chosen to move into stage 2, the best NASCAR vehicle design would be chosen winner of the nationwide contest.


After pitching the idea to the client, they felt it was the perfect vehicle to get them into the mainstream of the industry to give their product the awareness it needed; the only problem was—there was no guarantee that would happen.


We took the chance. I spent considerable time researching the industry, it’s needs and current projects and objectives and wrote about how the client’s new product was the perfect enhancement to their industry. At the time, NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow”  (he common name used for the chassis that accompanies the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) was emerging. The car was part of a five-year project to create a safer vehicle following several deaths in competition, particularly the 2001 crash that took the life of Dale Earnhardt. The client’s product was a new lightweight flame-retardant compound that paired seamlessly into plastic injection. For the purposes of NASCAR, the product seemed to fit seamlessly as it implemented dramatic safety improvements, cost less to maintain, and was intended to make for closer competition due to its light weight and tensile strengths; not to mention this new green technology was also safe for the environment both in use and afterlife disposal/recycling.


I was fortunate enough to be one of the chosen essay winners to go on to stage 2 – the design contest – where I was chosen the runner-up to the winner of the NASCAR contest --and  the recognition we received catapulted the clients company and product awareness to unimaginable heights… they were shortly there after bought out by a large investor who took the product to new heights.   


The contest prize package was quite the win fall for me as well...with a NASCAR Challenge package that allowed me to actually drive a NASCAR at the track of my choice. Of course I chose MIS, one of the fastest tracks in the circuit. The training, gearing up and unassisted driving of an actual NASCAR on the track along side other drivers was nothing short of the

Experience of a Lifetime.


MIS E&HomeDepot car
MIS 2006  E2
MIS 2006 E3p
MIS 2006  -  Chandler Birthday dinner 201
MIS E&HomeDepot car
MIS 2006  E2
MIS 2006 E3p
MIS 2006  -  Chandler Birthday dinner 201


During my 10-year tenure working with 21st Century Newspapers (the Michigan-based newspaper group consisting of The Macomb Daily, The Oakland Press, The Daily Tribune,  the Voice Newspapers and several northern Michigan weekly newspapers) as the Creative Services Manager in the Marketing Department, I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects in Marketing and community Promotions that won a variety of distinguished awards from the The International News Media Association (INMA) the world's leading provider of global best practices for news media companies;  and The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) throughout my years of service. 


One of my favorite accomplishments was the hardcover book Echoes of Macomb : A Pictorial History of Macomb County. The book compiled a collection of photographs from the personal collections of individuals and families throughout the area. The book includes the names of persons who are pictured in photographs, or who submitted photographs, with captions detailing each photo. This historical pictorial spans several decades - from the 1800's through the 1960's. I have a passion for history, and this project turned out to be an exciting and educational endeavor from beginning to end. We had no idea how well received it would be... the book sold out in pre-sales before it was delivered! This was a well-received and thoroughly enjoyable project; I only wish we could have created a follow-up edition!


In the early years of the internet, I was part of a two-man committee that took on the challenge of researching, recommending and putting together the first websites for the 21st Century Newspapers Group. This was one of the more challenging projects I had worked on, and one where I wore many hats as the committee consisted of just the two of us...although it was also one of the most rewarding and educational projects I was fortunate to work on. Selling the idea to the management /ownership was half the battle, the other was putting the entire project together for several of our top daily newspapers. The advantages, leverage, ancillary revenues and expansion of the papers was quite the accomplishment for us at the time. I periodically look back on this journey and all that we accomplished. One of the exciting parts of the project was traveling to the various newspapers and making presentations to what we proposed to the management teams; later followed by presentations to all the employees at each newspaper to educate them on what we were putting in place and training them on the operations and uses of the newspapers websites.


Large-format advertising commands your audience’s attention. Good design = communication, community signage = a large audience you have the opportunity to share your work with. My excitement level was always elevated whenever I had the opportunity to design public signage. Whether it was the billboard sign viewed by thousands of drivers each and ever day on the expressway; or the venue signage I was able to design at area establishments like Joe Dumar's Fieldhouse, Freedom Hill, or Comerica Park...I always savor these projects as some of my greater accomplishments.


In short, our story is a simple one. The product concept was invented from a terrible experience that happened not once, but twice… With no nightstand in his modest sized room, Dan used to place his glass of water on the window sill with his phone plugged in on the floor. One night he reached for a glass of water to quench his thirst and accidentally spilled it on the floor, damaging his cell phone. That’s when he decided to get a nightstand… the second time it happened, he reached for a glass of water in the middle of the night -- it spilled and damaged his cell phone along with the items and finish on his nightstand. Each incident was a costly disaster. Out of frustration and the need to correct the problem, an idea was born. Collaborating with brother Ed, the ideas began to flow; and the concept of a “smart shelf” was born and perfected. Once shared with family and friends, we knew we had a novel idea.

For the past year and a half, we have been working with dozens of people perfecting the idea for the perfect solution. It was important to create something effortless to install, easy to use; environmentally friendly; and something convenient and reliable enough to securely keep a phone, and hold a drink in place. The journey has been long perfecting our product, but we wanted to make sure we did everything right. We applied for a patent, and we put a lot of work into designing and building the first prototypes. We instituted the assistance of the EDA, and took advantage of their business incubator “The Underground” - which is part of the SmartZone network - collaborating with regional partners and competing in regional product competitions where Smart Shelf won (3) consecutive 1st Place awards.

DAN CASS - President

Dan is the co-founder and President at Smart Shelf; a Michigan based startup that designs, builds, and sells novel shelf platforms. He leads product development, strategy, and vision while the company reimagines better ways to offer products to simplify your life. A lifetime love of inventing better ways to do things keeps him busy. Dan has over 25 years experience in the electrical and technology field.

ED CASS - Vice President


Ed is the co-founder and VP at Smart Shelf; a Michigan based startup building novel "smart shelfs" that cater to the needs surrounding smartphone users. He brings his extensive experience branding and marketing businesses and products to Smart Shelf. He has a passion for eco-friendly living and is committed to finding solutions to create better "green" approaches to help offset waste. Ed has over 22 years experience in marketing, design and promotions.

Featured in:

CES 2020

This year our new Itelashelf product was submitted and accepted to exhibit at the Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas. CES® is the largest, most influential tech event in the world – the proving ground for breakthrough technologies and global innovators. This is where the world's biggest brands do business and meet new partners, and the sharpest innovators hit the stage. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, CES features every aspect of the tech sector. Learn more at and follow CES on social.

CES Highlights:

  • Accepted to exhibit @ CES Unveiled – Intelashelf was well received at the Official Media Event for Press & Industry Analysts from over 160 countries rallying over 1500 media contact attendees.

  • Accepted to present @ CES ShowStoppers LAUNCHIT – Angel investors and venture capitalists have selected 10 of the hottest companies to take the stage at ShowStoppers® LAUNCHIT.
    D3 Producsts was one of the 10 finalist companies chosen to pitch the Intelashelf at the 9th edition of ShowStoppers® LAUNCHIT where the judges were impressed with our product. Judges included Kevin Harrington (former Shark Tank/Mr infomercial), Mike Johns (tech podcast/ marketing agency) Nicholas Zaldastani (Managing Director of Zaldastani Ventures).

  • Exhibited @ CES 2020 - The worlds largest and most influential tech event where the entire ecosystem gathers to conduct business.
    News of the Intelashelf brought a flurry of international media, consumers, investors, distributors and large companies all who had interest in the Intelashelf product.

  • With the positive coverage and being one of the Smart Home Mark of Excellence Finalists, several articles, magazines and news clips were eager to promote our product and accomplishments. Our presence and accomplishments at CES attained both a strong Awareness and Interest in our company and our product.

My design efforts are shown throughout in the company branding, marketing materials and website designs.

CES unveiled sign.jpg
ED CES banner.jpg
CES sign.jpg
CES Booth crew.jpg
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