Gekkotek closes up shop

Vancouver-based IT service provider Gekkotek Inc. has closed its doors.

Under the weight of nearly $1 million in debt, Gekkotek's operations ceased in late December.

"National vendors can cut pennies where I can only cut a half a penny," said Valerie Reamer, owner and chief executive officer. "I think this will be a big surprise for everybody."

Reamer gave her staff final paychecks without severance packages, but she doesn't anticipate bankruptcy.

"What was important to me was that all the local debt was paid off," she said. "We've been so busy trying to be a good company that when we couldn't continue on it, to me it was very, very personal. I had so much wrapped up in it."

In its short life of five years, Gekkotek reached nearly $7 million in annual revenue in its best year.

It was a Fastest Growing Business finalist in the VBJ's 2006 Business Growth Awards. In 2004, Gekkotek had sales of $2.1 million. Sales jumped to $4.3 million by the end of 2005.

But in early 2007 when the economy started its slump, Gekkotek customers began to cut spending and put projects on hold.

"We didn't really lose any major clients, but the major clients we did have were not spending any money," Reamer said. "Our pipeline dried up. Projects were slower and slower and slower."

Reamer is entertaining a couple of job offers, but plans to help a handful of her former employees in their venture to start a Vancouver-based nonprofit, Northwest Community IT.

Monica Harris, Gekkotek's former director of marketing, began work Jan. 3 as executive director of the organization with six former Gekkotek employees. The organization will provide tech services to businesses, including former Gekkotek clients, and to raise money to serve nonprofits on a sliding scale.