Joe Vandervest, Shawn Delano, and Jacob Brown at the Blue Water Business Expo. <span class='image-credits'>Courtesy Joe Vandervest</span>

Port Huron a second home for technology startup

When Joe Vandervest and his colleagues at Campbell Marketing and Communications in Dearborn were looking for a way to branch out with their tech startup, Campbell Tech Solutions, it was only natural that they end up in the Port Huron area.

While Campbell Tech Solutions is still in a startup phase, many of its members already have strong ties to the Port Huron Joe Vandervest, Shawn Delano, and Jacob Brown at the Blue Water Business Expo.area and in fact, grew up there.

The offshoot of the main marketing firm offers a "deep technical skill set that ranges anywhere from coding to network administration to website hosting expertise." A team of about 12 technicians are on call in the Port Huron area and work remotely out of the Dearborn office.

"I like to think of it as providing a concierge service," said Vandervest, who is Chief Information Officer for Campbell Marketing and Communications.

While most marketing and tech firms offer a manage-based solution to IT issues, and then give their clients a menu or list of services they offer without really delving into the client's specific and unique needs, Vandervest says that Campbell Tech Solutions will offer a different model that will be different and tailored to the exact issues of the clients.

"An important role we fill is that we can act as the customer's advisor and advocate, helping them evaluate technical choices--all from the client's business context," said Vandervest. "In other words, one size does not fit all when it comes to technology. To get the most out of each solution, it needs to be crafted, configured, and selected with each client's unique business context and culture in mind."

Vandervest says that while the use of technology has become simpler, it's getting harder and more complicated to maintain it.

"We have a world of experience overall," he said. "But if we need to reach out to others in a niche area, we will reach out."

There is no permanent office in Port Huron at the moment, but Vandervest has found a local "home" in leased personal space at Loft 912, one of the premiere co-working spots in the city.

"Matt Brooks has done a really good job." he said about Loft 912 and its creative environment. "It's very invigorating."

He is thrilled about a recent resurgence in Port Huron vitalization and its "comeback."

He credits the people, the businesses, the social groups, the EDA's, and the DDA's, and the community funds that strive to make positive changes happen.

"I've personally seen a lot of positive changes in the area," he said. "I think that the Blue Water area is finally getting ‘discovered' by businesses and people living in the Detroit Metro area."

He credits the downtown development authorities like EDA, SC4, and other groups like the Blue Water Young Professionals and the Community Foundation of St. Clair for working together to find "innovative businesses with marketing, events, and ‘place creating,'' and says that it is a win-win situation for almost any community that uses those resources.

"We all win," he said. "Every community can win."

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