( March 18, 2003 )
By Jill Schramm
Staff Writer – Minot Daily News
Dan Albertson knew there were companies and agencies around the country in need of some outside computer expertise. He also knew that expertise existed in Minot.
The birth of Albertson Consulting (www.albertsonconsulting.com) was just a matter of getting a foot in the door and convincing potential clients that he could solve their problems. His technology company has been providing Internet-based and other computer services to clients since February.
“I wanted to find a way to stay in Minot because I really like it here,” said Albertson, who graduated from Minot State University in 1995 with a degree in computer science and minors in business administration and accounting. His previous work included jobs with Amerada Hess in Williston and Eliance in Minot.
“I just realized,” he said, “that there were really home good resources here and that I was working with some really good people. There just weren’t a lot of jobs here. What I decided to try to do is try to find a contract that I could employ these people that I knew.”
Through the Minot Area Development Corp., and MAGIC Fund, which provided start-up assistance to his new company, Albertson learned about a California firm, Probix, that needed computer consulting.
“I went out and convinced them that they should give us a shot,” he said. “It was kind of interesting. We didn’t know for sure how long they were going to be with us. They have been with us the whole time, and we are doing really well. They are doing really well.”
Since then, Albertson Consulting has received contracts with two Bismarck agencies – Asocius and the Department of Public Instruction – to develop software. With the contracts, the company is building a track record to better market itself.
“You have to prove yourself,” Albertson said. “It helps to have some experience and an established development staff. We proved we can handle the work and do it for a reasonable amount of money.”
Being from Minot isn’t a drawback but can be an advantage, he said. Urban areas often are expensive places to live compared to Minot.
“They just can’t find the kind of people that I have – the degreed people who are experienced and intelligent, who can do this kind of work,” Albertson said. “We are able to do it much more reasonably and are able to make a decent living off of it.”
Long-distance work can be accomplished with a minimum of travel by using computer video conferencing and phone conferencing.
Albertson Consulting employs 18 people, of which about 13 work in the Minot office. Others are consultants or part-time employees in other states. The company offers retirement, medical, life and disability insurance plans.
“Theoretically, you could have 300 people sitting here. All you have to do is find the work and bring it here,” he said. “There’s a lot of work out there. It’s just a matter of finding it and being qualified.”
“We are getting work from outside the state and bringing it to North Dakota. That’s the part that’s really exciting to me. We are able to bring dollars from outside the state into the state.”
He hopes to someday steer the service-oriented company toward more product-related work, which could be done by developing general web-application programs to sell to companies.
“We have tried to diversify,” Albertson said.
Albertson Consulting already offers a variety of services, such as Web development, software testing, handling companies’ payments over the Internet, database design and analysis, and e-learning, which involves software for training employees.
The company has a partnership with Great Plains Software in Fargo to do software sales and implementation consulting.
Albertson Consulting operates out of a modest downtown suite with some desks and computers. Albertson, dressed for work in jeans and sweater, said it’s not a business that generates foot traffic so there isn’t a need to impress anyone with fancy appearances. Instead, the company spends its resources to stay current with ever-changing technology, with a focus on long-term financial stability.
“It’s still a business. It’s still dollars and cents. It’s just a different business, with different products,” Albertson said. “I just want to make sure that we can do this for a long time and that things will grow.”