When growing companies opt to move their businesses to Wilmington, we all stand up and take notice. And we wonder: how did you choose Wilmington, and what do you need from us to succeed?
I had the opportunity recently to welcome Ken Reig to town. He has just moved his digital marketing firm called EightOhTwo from Vermont to Wilmington, and he was introduced to the CIE by one of our mentors. He has since rolled up his sleeves and jumped right in, helping a series of startups with his vast knowledge on the difference that a strong digital strategy can make.
So I decided it would be fun to interview him – and I was right. Listen in:
So, Ken, why Wilmington? Well, it’s a return for us. We lived here in the late 90s, and we had a great network of creative and IT professionals in the area. Fast forward 15 years, and our Vermont-based business was growing quite quickly. We had a hard time recruiting young, talented marketers to the mountains where our home office was. My wife Jeanne (our GM) and I had been vacationing in Wilmington and got the idea to open an "outpost" office here in town with a few FTEs. We later connected with the UNCW business program for an internship pipeline which was a huge success. Two of our interns have gone on to become excellent full-time analysts on our team. We plan on continuing the relationship with UNCW this year.
During COVID, Jeanne and I decided it was best for our family and for our business to relocate permanently. The new, post-COVID reality, where businesses can operate effectively with remote staff, meant that we could work with our existing team while we focus on growth in a city that will draw those young, talented marketers we need.
What kind of work does EightOhTwo do? Eight Oh Two is a boutique digital advertising agency. We specialize in performance marketing, SEO and content marketing for retail ecommerce and enterprise-level B2B businesses. Our clients are located all over the US, but most are selling goods online. Companies in growth mode seem to benefit the most from our services, because we help them gain market share.
How have you found ways to plug in to the community? We've enjoyed working with UNCW on our internship program and we have also connected with other small agencies in town. Agency partnerships are so valuable, as you can team up on overflow work or tap into expert resources when needed.
Wilmington has so much more to offer, and we're just now looking to connect with the various organizations that are available. I'm excited about exploring opportunities to connect through the CIE – particularly the mentoring program. We even have a startup side project of our own, so it's an excellent chance to tap into the community of resources.
Where are your employees now, and where do you see your growth? About half of our staff is still in the New England area, working remotely and doing it quite effectively. We've dialed in our "virtual" business protocols, and productivity is better than before the pandemic. We have seven staffers in Wilmington now, and we intend to keep building the team here for an eventual return to an office environment. We have an office in Lumina Station at the moment.
What would you tell others about our region as a place for doing business? It's hard to ignore the positive energy in the Wilmington business community – the optimism and the potential for growth are palpable. With so many great resources and entrepreneurs and bright people in the mix, setting up shop here makes a ton of sense.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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