Fully Developed Product Solutions Since 1944

Our name has changed but our reputation remains:
bb7’s product development solutions actually work.

Our mission is to be our clients' most trusted provider. We can tackle any problem, launch your products and guide you to brand dominance.

A Legacy of Innovation

The “b”s in bb7 come from Bjorksten Labs (founded in 1944) and BIT 7 (founded in 1992), which merged in 2000 to form bb7. Since then we've united pioneering research with excellence in engineering and design, offering clients the complete product development package.

Today, bb7 is known for unparalleled brainpower – our secret weapon in the fight to execute profitable product strategies. With a dizzying array of capabilities under one roof, our cross-functional teams join forces to attack projects with creative and technical strengths available nowhere else.

Meet some of our brainpower

(click name to reveal bio)

Jim Frater

Founder

Jim Frater is the man behind bb7 as we know it today. He founded Bit 7 in 1992 and successfully merged it with Bjorksten Labs to create bb7 in 2000.

Jim boasts more than 30 years of experience as a product development leader. Under his direction, bb7 has designed award-winning new products for clients in almost every major market. He is credited with our unprecedented loyalty rate; 90% of our clients return for more bb7 magic.

A recognized thought leader, Jim has guest-lectured for the Society of Plastics, the Packaging Institute and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One of his areas of expertise is intellectual property (IP); Jim guides our clients to discover and protect their valuable IP.

Ask Him About: Anything bb7 related including our past, present and future clients, employees and projects.

Bob Schofield

President

Bob Schofield

President

Bob Schofield has been running with scissors since 1975.

Bob’s experience in engineering management spans over two decades. For years he worked in the consumer products category, including a tenure at Fiskars as the Director of 3D Services. From there he moved to product development consultancies where he has overseen engineering and prototyping departments. His projects have resulted in numerous awards, including an IDSA Gold Award for Fiskars’ Softouch scissors and a Medical Device Excellence Award for Orascoptic’s Freedom dental loupes.

Bob is an expert at resource management, project strategy, mechanical engineering and talent retention. He makes sure our mechanical engineering team integrates with other departments to ensure highly functional and visually appealing products. He is a natural people person and loves to interact with our clients and our diverse team.

Ask Him About: Pre-computer engineering and/or his karaoke skills.

Ben Paprocki

Dir. of Advanced Development

Ben Paprocki

Dir. of Advanced Development

Ben Paprocki keeps bb7 exciting for our teams and for our clients. His goal is to “Continuously ‘wow’ our clients with deliverables that exceed their expectations.”

Ben’s career in product development is rooted in mechanical engineering. He has extensive experience with highly technical scientific equipment, medical devices and high-volume consumer products.

As bb7’s top prototyping advisor, Ben can recommend the right prototyping process for any project phase. Additionally, he is a Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) and SolidWorks Systems Administrator.

Ben’s speaking engagements have included multiple SolidWorks user conferences, university classrooms and Fortune 500 companies.

Ask Him About: Additive manufacturing (SLA, SLS, FDM, Polyjet), soft tooling and traditional manufacturing methods.

Ruth Barry

Dir. of Electrical & Software Engineering

Ruth Barry

Dir. of Electrical & Software Engineering

Ruth Barry is more charged than an electron and creates more spark than Tesla’s plasma lamp.

For most of Ruth’s 30+ year career, she has led project teams and engineering departments, excelling in global project and alliance management. She has established new processes and built teams within the telecommunications, dental and medical software industries, to name a few.

Ruth nurtures our electrical and software teams with a lean process and a focus on continuous improvement. She leads a group responsible for discovering and integrating emerging and advanced technology, and is at the core of our wireless capabilities. Her diverse expertise ranges from project management to regulatory compliance training to embedded systems to action pet photography.

Ask Her About: When she directed a team to develop and launch four new products within three years – and two of the products received Industry Design Awards (IDEA).

Steve Dieter

Dir. of Mechanical Engineering

Steve Dieter

Dir. of Mechanical Engineering

Steve Dieter is a builder. He builds successful teams, engineering schemes and product dreams.

Steve Dieter is an accomplished mechanical engineer, technical consultant and project manager. He is a veteran of consumer electronic development; his experience includes Electrolux, Motorola and Bosch, among others. He has honed his capabilities within consumer and commercial electronics enclosures design, reverse engineering, accelerated life testing, and component design. Plus, he is a master of CAD software and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).

As bb7’s Director of Mechanical Engineering, Steve champions the development of feasible and manufacturable solutions for our clients. He helps to foster our multi-disciplinary approach, a key to bb7’s project success. His favorite types of products are “Multi-discipline, turn-key projects where we are involved in early conceptual work through to manufacturing support.” One such project was the Leer Ice Merchandiser in which Steve played a pivotal role.

Ask Him About: Building his own house – The framing, electrical, flooring, carpentry and more.

Steve Cantley

Dir. of R&D and Systems Engineering

Steve Cantley

Dir. of R&D and Systems Engineering

Steve Cantley’s experience is out of this world.

Steve Cantley is originally from the Midwest, where he attended Michigan State University and earned his degree in Physics. His early career took him to Texas, initially working in the areas of aircraft and semiconductors. He eventually landed in Houston for his dream job – a seat in NASA’s Mission Control Center where he was responsible for the International Space Station’s electrical power system during the design phase and the first several years of ISS assembly. A veteran flight controller with more than 2500 hours of console support, he lived through several spacecraft contingencies, developed failure response hardware still onboard today, and helped the Program rethink its critical spares strategy.

Upon returning to the Midwest, Steve initially joined bb7 in support of the IceCube Antarctic neutrino detector project. During his time at bb7, he has helped create or improve four major Antarctic research tools, collaborated on several medical products, and implemented a design-oriented ISO-9001/13485-registered quality management system.

Ask Him About: Traditional Japanese calligraphy, landscape photography, or beekeeping. Or, keep it light (or rather black!) and discuss spaghettification.

Steve McCauley

Dir. of Testing & Prototyping

Steve McCauley

Dir. of Testing & Prototyping

Steve McCauley’s passion for testing products is rooted in his love for breaking stuff. He is known for saying, “If I don’t cause the products I test to fail, then I have failed.”

Steve is an engineer’s engineer with a background full of diverse engineering roles. Design engineer, reliability engineer, plant engineer and quality engineer are just a few of his many previous titles. He spent 19 years in the household appliance industry, where he grew his love for product verification and “Ol’ Lonely” (the Maytag Man).

There is no prototype or product test Steve can’t deliver. He creates prototypes of all sizes and materials from various programs like Solidworks, ProEngineer and MasterCam. Steve loves to build test fixtures and perform product tests; his favorite tests address life cycling, temperature extremes and physical validation.

Ask Him About: Running lawn mowers 24/7 for nearly a year for a product test.

Nicholas Higbee

Dir. of Industrial Design & User Research

Nicholas Higbee

Dir. of Industrial Design & User Research

Nicholas Higbee does more than design user-centered products; he also devises the strategies that guide their development.

Nick moved back to the Midwest after cutting his teeth as a graphic and environmental experience designer in Boston and New York. He has experience working for major brands like Puma North America and Chanel. At bb7, Nick helps brands reinvent themselves through Visual Brand Language programs, guides user interface design and leads global research programs.

Design research, usability design and project management are just a few of Nick’s specialties. He excels at designing “high-touch” products – those with a significant amount of user interaction. A global research expert, Nick develops and synthesizes large design research programs and applies various research methodologies to gain insights into product design and interfaces.

Ask Him About: Interviewing machine operators in a Beijing hospital about their use of a medical device.

Maggie Graham

Dir. of Marketing

Maggie Graham

Dir. of Marketing

Maggie Graham loves to engage an audience.

Maggie is an accomplished marketeer and performer. Target audiences and theatrical audiences need to hold on to their socks – Maggie will knock them off. For more than fifteen years, she has worked across the country in sales, marketing and entertainment.

Her marketing work has included experience with multiple design firms, a Tony award-winning theater, a market research company and a web development agency. She is responsible for all things marketing-related at bb7: campaigns, events, advertisements, public relations, content and more. Notably, she was the mastermind behind bb7’s website.

Her entertainment career has included acting, ballet, improvisation, stand-up comedy, film, teaching and puppetry. She has worked with Second City, has been featured in media (print, television, radio, etc), and was named runner-up by the Chicago Reader for best stand-up comedian.

Ask Her About: The psychological effects of being heckled.