From the Des Moines Business Record, December 29, 2003.
by Michael Lovell
Global Reach Internet Productions, one of the biggest technology consultants and developers of websites in Iowa, is betting that new products and a number of foreign-born contacts will help it expand abroad and double its workforce within a year.
In the United States, Global Reach's software is being employed by such companies as Andersen Corp.'s door and window-making subsidiary EMCO Enterprises Inc., and Next Generation Realty. The state treasury department uses its products to manage the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt and the website for the state's Section 529 college savings plan. The Department of Defense's shadowy Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also has been a customer, though managers declined to discuss projects for that organization.
Global Reach's products have already pushed into Canada, South Korea, and Cyprus. Now they are hoping that those outposts will serve as entryways to bigger markets, particularly in Asia and Europe.
"We expect to double our number of employees by the end of the year by taking our solutions worldwide," said Randy Kasal, the company's vice president of business development and head salesman. "Nearly all of those new workers will be in Des Moines."
The company has 30 employees currently, including graphic designers and catalog and brochure designers. The majority of Global Reach's workers, however, are programmers. Kasal, the only salesperson, works out of a small office above Court Avenue Brewing Co. in downtown Des Moines. The rest of the company works in Ames, the site of its headquarters.
Competitors for its website development business include Red Five Interactive, Sogeti, and Spindustry. Rivals in its consulting enterprise include Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett Packard Co., though Kasal said the company occasionally teams with Microsoft on projects.
Iacovos Zachariades, a former professor of web design at Iowa State University, started the company in 1995. Its first big product was a Web-based software program that helped customers reduce the amount of paper records.
Today, clients for that product include more than 900 banks, which use it for a variety of tasks, including renewing certificates of deposit and generating reports about those transactions that can be seen in real time by managers and sent to other parties, including the Internal Revenue Service.
The software also is used by the state to manage expenditures from Iowa's portion of its settlement with the tobacco industry. It's on this product that managers are pinning their highest hopes for growth.
To achieve its goals, the company will be relying on its products and on its plans to add to its sales and marketing force. Revenue, which is expected to exceed $10 million this year, has doubled annually for each of the past several years, Kasal said. It could "easily double in two years," he said.
Other products include Inviewsion, a Web-based tool that lets users conduct large surveys and quickly interpret results; SiteViz, which helps buyers streamline their Web sites; PropertyFusion, which is used by realtors to run Internet-based real estate sites; and Global Stores, an application that lets business owners sell products and manage sales over the Internet.
What is unusual about Global Reach is its interest in expanding internationally at its current size. Aiding that process are employees with connections.
Zachariades was born in Cyprus, which hopes to join the European Union in 2005. That move would further open markets in Cyprus to the rest of the continent. The company's operations in South Korea, where customers include the government, are managed by a one-time student of Zachariades. Kasal said he used to live in Russia and that he has relatives "high in the Czech government." The company is also courting clients and contacts in Greece and Turkey, Kasal said.
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