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Local firms see bright future

Businesses that attended InnoTech carve niches in Vancouver

From Sean Lowry’s perspective, business is good.

As executive director of InnoTech, a technology conference and expo for local companies, Lowry helps tech firms market their wares and evaluate the competition.

Each conference finds more firms that want to participate.

"I think the local tech market is getting stronger," he said. "There seems to be a lot of smaller, innovative companies basing themselves in Vancouver."

At the recent InnoTech conference, held at the Oregon Convention Center, Lowry saw a jump in the number of Vancouver and Portland businesses wanting a booth, as well as the number of attendees. Attendance rose to 2,000, from 1,700 last year. The number of vendors increased by 15 percent to nearly 100.

In the last four years, he has seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in the number of visitors each year.

Three local firms – Gekkotek, Earthquake Protection Specialists and Always Better Productions – hosted booths at InnoTech as a way to increase exposure. The firms offer a snapshot of how small tech firms are shaping the local business environment.

Gekkotek

Gekkotek, which specializes in improving computer performance, rolled out a putting green at InnoTech to draw visitors to its booth.

Gekkotek was founded in Vancouver in 2003 and posted a revenue increase of 1,500 percent between 2004 and 2005. In 2006, revenues increased 300 percent. The company expects revenues to grow another 25 percent this year.

"We provide business technical solutions to small and medium sized businesses, to make sure they are utilizing their technology to its fullest," said Valerie Reamer, owner of Gekkotek.

The company advises on hardware and software. Reamer said a client’s infrastructure is analyzed to determine if the software is appropriate for the use. In some cases, she said, companies "just need to know and understand what they own." And in other cases, new software is required.

"People will implement untested changes and make changes they don’t understand the ramifications of," she said. "We bring them up to speed on any new technology. People really like our message."

Earthquake Protection Specialists

Kris Ritton, owner/president of Earthquake Protection Specialists, said he relies on "word of mouth" and appearances at trade shows to generate sales. Earthquake Protection sells stabilizing equipment that prevents computers and servers of all sizes from being damaged in an earthquake.

Ritton said he looks for clients such as architects and engineers, who will incorporate his company’s earthquake safety equipment early in the design process.

IT managers, chief financial officers and chief information officers are all potential clients.

"I’m pushing the architecture and engineer angle, because those people are making decisions for companies about data centers," he said. The company’s revenue gains in Oregon and Southwest Washington have doubled every year since 2004.

Always Better Productions

Craig and Nancy Roblewsky came to Vancouver five years ago, after launching their video business in South Dakota. That market, it turned out, limited the videographers to shooting mostly weddings.

Since moving to Vancouver, they said their "bread and butter" has been shooting video to promote businesses.

"Streaming video on websites is the hot thing," said Nancy Roblewsky. "They can go to a streaming video on a website and get an accurate picture of a business."

The company also does longer promotional videos, or "video brochures," that businesses can give to prospective clients.

"The whole point is, you can hear about an eye doctor and you can hear about a restaurant, but this way you can go and meet them and go inside the office or restaurant," she said.

The videos are found on www.videoinformationnetwork.com. The company also does still photography, but no longer does weddings.

"We’re trying to target the business market," she said.

Roblewsky said the company’s revenues increased 40 percent between 2005 and 2006 and expected this year’s revenues to increase 65 percent.

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