Steamboat Springs Chris O’Reilly is making good on his plans to grow his international information technology company in Steamboat Springs.
The CEO and president of LDM Global — which searches, analyzes and organizes corporate data for firms entering litigation — said his company has grown to 12 employees here from four in July 2012. He anticipates that number could expand to 20 by March 1, 2014.
O’Reilly grew up on the beach in Sydney with a surfboard under his arm and is just as passionate about skiing. He decided rather than move his headquarters from London to a developing nation, he wanted to make it work in a ski town. After coming very close to moving with his wife, Stephanie, to Aspen, the couple visited Steamboat and realized it was the right fit for their personal style: He prefers shorts and flip-flops to pinstripes.
“I had gone to India and considered setting up our back office there, but I said, ‘I’m raising my family here. I want to invest in this town,’” O’Reilly told the members of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Economic Development Council this week. “And my sense is that if we got enough companies like this, there’s a future here for our kids."
Chamber CEO Tom Kern said the business community has heard loud and clear that location-neutral business owners are attracted here by the quality of life and that above-average schools, recreation facilities and good, logical government are the things that will keep them here. But they also want access to a highly educated workforce, robust broadband connections and dependable transportation — most significantly air service.
"They need to see we're moving in a direction to eventually provide that for them," Kern said.
After visiting dozens of countries and living in several, O’Reilly is on his way to becoming one of Steamboat’s biggest boosters. He said he’s convinced there is no better place in the world to raise his young daughters and added that he and his wife exchange knowing glances on a daily basis after sharing an outdoor outing.
“I started in March (2012) with one person, and now she works with me as a sales and marketing manager and has earned a 70 percent raise. I want to be one of the best companies to work for in town,” he said.
He backs that talk up with health benefits and season ski passes for his employees.
O’Reilly and his brother founded LDM Global in London in 1995.
In an era of increasingly complex corporate communications, the firm helps companies prepare for and work through the discovery phase of lawsuits, when litigants share pertinent information with each other’s legal counsel. They call the work that they do “electronic discovery.”
In addition to corporate headquarters in Steamboat Springs, they have offices in London, New York, Paris, Sydney, Brussels and Reston, Va.
Last summer, LDM Global was based out of a resort condominium near the ski area. This winter, its dozen employees are working in a leased building of about 2,000 square feet between Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street on Fifth Street. As he continues hiring, O’Reilly said, he would continue to look this year for a building to purchase.
“It’s my objective to buy a commercial building in short to medium time,” he said.
The new hires could include some IT service people, perhaps a couple of project managers and possibly one or two sales people. He’s open to bringing new hires in from other cities, but his impression is that Steamboat is full of bright, well-educated people, and he wants to hire locally, as well.
“I find the people in Steamboat Springs, from young kids all the way through, have a worldly view considering it’s such a small town. That’s why I’m so excited to be here,” he said.
The demand for LDM Global’s services is growing as corporate communications become more difficult to track and then reconstruct in the run-up to a lawsuit.
“Electronically stored information comes in a myriad of formats: videos, PDFs, email attachments, text message. We collect data from laptops and blackberries and push it up into a Google-style search engine,” O’Reilly told the members of the Economic Development Council. “If your company isn’t ready for discovery, it can become a very costly and time-consuming process.”
O’Reilly said his spirits were buoyed considerably this week when the Chamber's Kern informed him that the Colorado Workforce Center would offset as much as $3,000 in training expenses for each new hire LDM Global makes.
“All of those pennies make a huge different to us,” O’Reilly said. "Half the time, all you need is a little pat on the back to keep trying. It gives you extra energy. Tom Kern reached out to me. it’s so refreshing to have the support of the Chamber of commerce, knowing there’s someone behind you willing you on.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com