When Matt deFouw and fellow University College of the Cariboo grad Clayton Morgan were pondering changes for their successful high-tech firm, they had two goals in mind.
The first was to separate the tech staff from the sales and marketing employees.
The second was to get back home.
The pair, along with third partner Derek Rathbun, started Bignition in 2003. Rathbun had the background in automotive sales and marketing, while deFouw and Morgan were computer science graduates.
The high-tech start up began operations in the Lower Mainland and still has a marketing and sales office in Richmond.
But the partners had a goal to get back home, to the Interior’s lifestyle of outdoor recreation, affordable housing and lack of commuting.
“Clayton’s been here (in Kamloops) for six years and I’ve been here for five,” deFouw said. “We started moving our employees about two and a half years ago.”
Today, Bignition has about 16 employees, split between Kamloops and Richmond.
The downtown Kamloops office is home to the technology side of the business. DeFouw said there are reasons beyond lifestyle for keeping the offices separate.
“We’ve found our best hiring has come out of the University (TRU).”
The company is doing a project with Thompson Rivers University, entailing four fourth-year computer science students working one day a week at Bignition’s downtown office.
“If that works out, hopefully we can hire some of them.”
The other reason for moving tech staff out is workplace culture.
DeFouw said the technology side is not a nine-to-five experience for staff. Instead, technical staff work on a “milestone basis,” with deadlines for completion of projects. That work might be done at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning but it could just as easily be at 1 a.m. Saturday.
Sales and marketing staff have more conventional schedules. But when they see tech guys wonder in at 1 p.m. or take a half-day off to ski, they’re getting the wrong message.
“They don’t realize that guy worked 16 hours on the weekend and stayed up all Thursday.”
In addition, deFouw said that while hiring of technology staff has been easier here the company found it easier to find qualified sales staff in the Lower Mainland.
The next steps for Bignition entail expansion into the United States. DeFouw said it is on the verge of signing contracts to open a huge market. That will add to technology staff needed in Kamloops.