DEERWOOD — It’s always sunny in Deerwood.
At least that’s the philosophy at Deerwood Technologies, which has grown from a home-based business to a main street employer.
The 12-year-old company started in Jim Mayne’s home with business and residential clients. When the company turned its focus to small and mid-size companies, it found a growth niche. Mayne said his information technology (IT) company really sold “peace of mind.”
The company’s primary product was its own branded system called Guardian Network Support. The company invested in propriety technology that allowed it to manage computers, networks and servers with a small engineering staff at a cost-effective level.
Now Deerwood Technologies purchased the former grocery store on Archibald Road in downtown Deerwood. The technology company has been housed in part of the building since 2007. They’ve been working since November to transform the entire building, which also previously served as a laundromat, into more office space. They’ve done a lot of the work themselves.
Deerwood Technologies works with clients on everything from software and computers to devices that make using technology easier like stand-up desks. And a few months ago, the company launched its telecommunications division with YourSix Communications.
With other communications avenues long part of IT like email and instant messaging, the move into voice telecommunications, seemed to be a natural conversation, Mayne said.
“Many of our customers said ‘can’t you just handle that, too.’ That’s one reason we chose to go further into that segment of technology,” Mayne said. “We’ve been established in their minds as a trusted adviser for technology so they count on us, depend on us to just handle it.”
So the company added voice and data and looked at other, perhaps, non-traditional sides of IT such as the equipment people use to utilize computers, including mobile technology carts in hospitals.
“It’s an integral part of it because the technology has no value or usability” without the total package, Mayne said.
A growth driver for the company is in rural health care as Deerwood Technologies works with hospitals in a five-state area. Mayne credited the addition of 31-year-old Crosby-Ironton High School graduate Jason Przymus’ marketing experience and focus on health care as helping the company’s growth velocity. Without that spark Mayne said the company could have faced death by slow growth.
Przymus looked for a focus when he started working in technology eight years ago. He said the industry needs exceeded other areas and medical facilities were also in a position to want the higher-end technology he was interested in working with.
“Jason has repeatedly scrubbed up and been in operating rooms to see and get the work flow down,” Mayne said, adding the research helps to determine what accessories or tools will ultimately help the client.
The research was a way to find out what works best as the health care profession uses a bar code to verify the correct blood type or medication at a patient’s bedside, Przymus said. In surgery and the emergency department visits, the goal was to determine how those staff members could get the things they need fast enough to help their patients from the size of screens needed for viewing X-rays to quick access of electronic medical records.
Przymus followed nurses to see what they were using and, perhaps more importantly, what pieces of machinery they didn’t use and why.
“Usually it’s because it’s not functional for them so then we try to figure out a way to make it easier for them,” Przymus said.
Cost-conscious medical office managers and owners were also conscious of costs. Time as well as money came into the equation as employees had to log in to computers repeatedly every time they left a monitor for a few seconds in order to maintain medical record security. But there was a monetary downside to loss of productivity as a few seconds every 15 minutes was multiplied by the number of employees. So Deerwood Technologies worked on a system where the employee’s badge activated the computer as they walked up to it.
Przymus said the entire conversation changes when it’s not just about the latest technology but is about what using that technology can save a business in dollars and cents.
Przymus said sometimes the people closest to home wonder about their growth from the small city of Deerwood. But clients who come in from out-of-town, the Twin Cities and outside Minnesota, get it quickly. Recently, a Chicago resident who drove up around Mille Lacs Lake was quick to ask how he could make the move here.
“Geography is pretty irrelevant these days because of technology,” Przymus said.
Mayne said other businesses have dropped off their town label because they felt they couldn’t compete with that small-town identity.
“It’s really more about what you do and what you deliver to your customers, not what your name is,” Mayne said. “It’s a great location.”
“There are a lot of chief information officers in the Midwest that would say ‘all roads lead to Deerwood,’” Przymus said.
It hasn’t all been easy. Mayne started his business after a layoff. He worked for American Express, Twin City Federal, IDS Financial Services and Ameriprise Financial. Mayne first started his company as a sideline business.
“I always thought the ship will come in — nah,” Mayne said. “You have to claw and nail every step of the way.”
Mayne described the company’s work culture as one with a positive outlook and a collegial team approach that is customer focused. “We have a great group of people,” he said.
Company staff members are active community volunteers. Przymus said they want to be the ones to offer a hand when someone needs it.
Przymus, vice president of business development, a lakes area native left Crosby and Ironton after high school for college and work that took him to the Twin Cities and Duluth. After working with Mayne on projects, they started talking about joining forces. It was a good time for Przymus who was looking for a bigger challenge. He now lives within walking distance from work with his young family. Serpent Lake is blocks away.
“It couldn’t have worked out better,” Przymus said.
Now Deerwood Technologies is projecting adding 15 to 20 full-time employees by 2015.