Web Site Firm Thriving in OKC and Worldwide

Article excerpt

When a group of Oklahoma City businessmen and recent college graduates started an Internet development company in 1999 with three employees, they had no idea they would beat out IBM for a major Web site design account less than two years later.

Element Fusion was founded in Oklahoma City in 1999 and now creates Web sites and produces products to create Web sites for users around the country and around the world.

Two of the original founders, Justin Cowan and Ryan Whitaker, still own the company and oversee day-to-day operations. The company has also grown from three employees to 27 in Oklahoma City and recently added three sales consultants in Houston.

But when they founded the company, Web sites were nowhere near as commonplace as they are today and Oklahoma was not exactly a hotbed for technology. That made their Web services a hard sell.

Nevertheless, Cowan said they knew Oklahoma City was prime for a tech company that knew its stuff; they just had to convince others on the merits of investing in a Web site.

"It was tough," Cowan said. "A large part of our job was education. Back then you couldn't just go out and sell a Web site."

The company picked up its first big client with Oklahoma City- based Hobby Lobby in 2001. At that time the craft store was looking to put its Crafts Etc. brand online.

Getting the contract, however, was no easy task.

Cowan said when the company heard Hobby Lobby was looking to create a Web site, they competed with IBM for the job. Element Fusion won out after convincing Hobby Lobby of the merits of working with a local company. Eventually, Hobby Lobby took their Web site development in-house - but Element Fusion was on the map.

Having a Web design firm in Oklahoma City has also helped the company lure other local clients.

One of Element Fusion's current clients, Bridgeport Development, an Oklahoma City home-building and development firm, has used the company's content management services for the creation of four Web sites.

Vincent Lee, art director for Bridgeport's projects, said the company previously had Web sites, but began working with Element Fusion in 2006.

He said the company chose Element Fusion because they were impressed with their services and their proximity for meetings and support.

"We can have face-to-face interaction with the whole team and be able to convey our requirements that way which we feel a lot more comfortable with," Lee said. "They are just down the street from us. Arranging meetings and meeting-up is a lot more efficient for us."

Products push growth

Tim Wall, director of product marketing for Element Fusion, said the company launched its products division to expand its scope. The products allow for users to construct and change their Web sites at will without knowing complicated computer code.

"The company was pretty much a local presence until a couple of years ago when we launched our products division," Wall said. …