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
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
"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. …