Daily Inter Lake | 2/10/2019 | by Heidi Gaiser
Kalispell-based software development company ExcelliMatrix wants Montana businesses to have access to the same technology advantages and tools enjoyed by those in the biggest metropolitan areas.
“ExcelliMatrix is in the business of providing our clients with the best possible technology consulting we can, for their specific situation,” founder Leland Johnson said. “And every client has a different situation.”
ExcelliMatrix, with three more offices in Bozeman, India and the Czech Republic, provides e-commerce solutions and enterprise software for businesses that need more than off-the-shelf software, but aren’t big enough to have an inhouse development team.
“It can be their database systems, writing a web app, developing a mobile app — it could be anything that they require when their systems aren’t meeting their growth needs,” Donna Johnson, wife of Leland Johnson, said.
Leland Johnson started ExcelliMatrix in 2013. He is a well-known name in the Flathead Valley business community after serving as vice president of National Flood Services in Kalispell from 2002 to 2011. He’s also managed tech projects throughout the country.
“After spending a couple of decades growing and building my career in corporate America, and specifically working within the Fortune 500 community, I came to realize that large companies have many great people, but those same companies are by definition designed and focused on earnings and profit first, customer satisfaction and relationships second,” Johnson said. “I wanted ExcelliMatrix to be different. I wanted our primary objective to be building strong and long-lasting relationships.”
Nathan Mayer, head of ExcelliMatrix business development, said he moved to the Flathead seven years ago from Seattle and worked for an out-of-state company “because I couldn’t find anything that was a great fit.
“But I met Leland and his genius came through. If there was anyone in the valley I wanted to work for, it was this guy,” Mayer said.
Johnson is also embedded with the biggest client of ExcelliMatrix as chief operating officer for Wildfire Defense Systems in Bozeman. ExcelliMatrix developers built a mobile application for insurance field agents visiting property owners after wildfires or scouting sites for wildfire potential. Before the companies joined forces, Wildfire Defense Systems agents took notes in the field, then had to return to the office to record observations and load statistics.
“Our mobile application has locating services to take them exactly to that location — there’s no street signs or anything after a fire — and they can enter the notes at the property into the system,” Mayer said. “They’ve been able to increase the number of visits they can do in a day. Everything is very organized as far as what is on their plate.”
Mayer said he is searching for more clients in Montana “the old-fashioned way. Hitting the pavement, networking. Our friends at MWED (Montana West Economic Development) and the Chamber have been fantastic for getting us connected,” he said.
ExcelliMatrix moved into the former Montana West Economic Development office at 314 Main St. At this point, the Kalispell group is comprised of Mayer, General Manager Andrew Escalante, Systems Administrator Michael Gregory and Office Administrator Donna Johnson, who also runs Builder Creek Realty.
The Bozeman team numbers seven. More than 20 people work for ExcelliMatrix in the Delhi, India, office, and Johnson has been working on opening the Prague office.
ExcelliMatrix reaches across the ocean to access the volume of skilled tech workers it needs. It’s not that there are no talented developers in Montana, Mayer said, but they can’t be hired in the numbers needed to create extensive IT infrastructures or to support the tech-support promises ExcelliMatrix makes to its customers.
“In Montana it can be difficult to find local software development resources,” he said. “There are only about 75 graduates in the state every year in computer science. Often people will wait for six months to find the right person, bring them in from out of state; they show up for the summer and leave after the first winter. It can cause headaches.”
ExcelliMatrix is also striving for geo-redundancy by offering tech support in time zones across the world.
“Leland is always making sure we have backup options for the viability of customers and their projects,” Mayer said.
Though ExcelliMatrix has clients throughout the country and is hoping to expand into Europe once its Prague office is up and running, “our real value is in helping enterprise-level and mid-market companies,” Escalante said. “Those would be considered some of the larger operations in Montana.”
Mayer said ExcelliMatrix is unique among Montana companies.
“It’s a very prevalent model in the larger cities, but no one’s done it here,” he said. “There are lots of good software development agencies in the state, but they are stacked up and they can’t rapidly expand like we can.”