Employee Spotlight: David ‘Nemo’ Neal

At the heart of our Forth co-creation platform are designers, engineers and industry experts who work together to comprise our diverse community. David ‘Nemo’ Neal is a transportation designer at Local Motors who is deeply rooted in this community, and his experience shows. Nemo is a linchpin in our automotive community, which involves supporting a global network of designers who share their designs openly across a wide variety of co-creation projects.

Before he joined Local Motors, Nemo was an active member of our automotive design community dating back to 2008. Inspired by all the talent and great work shared by everyone else, he contributed actively in the comments and developed relationships with many members of the community. He eventually joined LM in early 2014 as a designer and has been active in the community to this day.

The community benefits immensely from Nemo since he is often the conduit between product development and project management — ensuring that the vehicles we build are successful. If you have a clarification about a project’s requirement or want to get a second opinion on your design, he’s always there with a friendly and straightforward response.

His diverse background has helped him appreciate all that LM has to offer. From DJing and selling insurance, to growing up in several different states, to having a deep admiration for all things related to automotive design, Nemo blends his talents and passions together for us.

Now, let’s hear from him. And don’t forget to add your own questions for him in the comments below.

Where were you born and raised?
This is always a tricky question for me. I was born in San Antonio, Texas. Throughout my childhood, I lived in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Anaheim, California, a few places in Iowa and also Colorado — but not necessarily in that order.

If people ask where I’m from, I say Austin. I love that city.

Where did you get the nickname Nemo?
When I was scheduling a DJ gig in the late 1990s, I told the promoter my name was Scott Neal. Later, we both began promoting the event with the headliner “Nemo,” and the promoter and I didn’t even know who that DJ was. I went ahead and played my set in what was supposed to be Nemo’s spot. It was only then that the promoter seemed confused — he thought my stage name was “Nemo” when it was spoken to him in the past at a loud venue. Thrilled with his set, he told me, “Well, I guess you’re Nemo now…” and the name stuck around beyond DJing.

What’s your favorite food?
Do I have to pick one? I’m kidding; I would have to say authentic Texas BBQ is where my heart is.

What’s your dream vacation?
I’d love to grab the kids and wife, strap into a decked-out RV and experience the ridiculous tapestry that makes up this country, which makes it so special. In particular, I would avoid the usual amusement parks and such, and instead find the real gems all over. I’d also like to try regional foods I have never had before. Go where the locals go.

Alternatively, a European vacation with a focus on historic vehicles and manufacturers would be awesome. However, this would only happen if I went with my designer friends. My wife and kids would be bored.

What do you do for Local Motors?
Officially, I’m a transportation designer, but that’s a faint shadow of what I do. My favorite part of my job is working deeply with the Local Motors online community to foster co-creation on all the amazing vehicles we make. Related to that, I help shape the face of co-creation with the Forth team. Day to day, I enjoy helping our project management and product management teams across many different types of projects.

It’s fascinating to learn about all the aspects of what it takes to make a vehicle come to life. From the initial challenge to the planning stages, marketing, and of course the design and engineering. I enjoy being involved and learning all along the way.

What did you do before Local Motors?
While I’ve been involved in design since a very young age, I have also been DJing since the late 1990s as a side hustle experiencing just about everything in the DJ world.

Before I came to work here, I was an insurance broker for seven years. It was lucrative but ultimately unfulfilling. I’ve had many other positions in sales, food, and management positions. I even did auto body repair and restoration for a couple of years. I have had at least two jobs at a time ever since I was 18. I felt trying different positions helps me stay relevant as a person, ultimately making me more useful. I guess that’s why I like to be involved with so much here at Local Motors as well.

What projects are you working on now?
Recently, a couple of projects that I’ve been involved with include exploring new vehicle concepts and developing some useful internal documentation on co-creation processes and community engagement for the Forth platform.

What do you love about Local Motors?
The short answer is the culture and the shared passion for changing the world. Everyone here at LM aspires to make an impact and celebrate that impact as a team. The atmosphere of Local Motors is unique to any other place that I have ever worked. It’s a great environment that fosters creativity and solutions-based thinking.

I used to hate going to work every morning, but not since I’ve come to Local Motors.

What advice do you have for future employees?
If you work here, free your mind of the expectations of industrial design. Whatever you assume it to be like, Local Motors isn’t that. It’s probably much better. Be ready to play your part in creating awesome things. It isn’t always easy, but the work is undoubtedly worth it. Most of all, stay humble.