Nomad’s Meteoric Rise

first_img“We wanted to establish a business for the ages,” Will Schmautz, CEO of Nomad Global Communications, said rather frankly in front of a crowded room at the Hilton Garden Inn last week. No one in the audience could dispute the results. Schmautz appears to have done that. Last month Nomad Global Communications Solutions, based in Columbia Falls, celebrated its ninth anniversary. What started out as Schmautz, his brother Seth and two other close friends meeting at Wheat Montana to discuss an innovative business plan over a $3 breakfast has become one of the most successful companies in the region. Nomad’s growing list of clients includes the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. The multifarious staff — from engineers to information technology service providers — has increased to more than 70. The technology being developed on U.S. Highway 2 West is being used in Europe, South America and the Middle East. In other words, Nomad is becoming exactly the type of business its founders hoped it would be. Schmautz explained the meteoric rise of Nomad at the recent Montana West Economic Development annual dinner on Oct. 20. Three other companies were recognized at the gathering for their recent success and innovations — Hurraw!, The Apple Barrel and Applied Materials. Introduced as one of the “People to Watch Under 40 In Montana,” Schmautz charted Nomad’s transformation from a simple barn facility to becoming “one of the gems of the Flathead Valley,” as Kimberly Morisaki, manager of business development at Montana West Economic Development, said in her opening. Schmautz credited the valley’s support in its early years as key to Nomad’s success. After making a profit in 2003, the company kept a malleable mentality with its business model and it paid off. “We wanted to set down roots and do something meaningful. The idea of the ‘One Valley, One Vision,’ I’m a big fan of that concept,” he said. “I’m a big promoter of the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats. The truth of the matter is when we got started in 2002, the tide was helping us.” Explaining exactly what Nomad actually does can be a bit difficult. Schmautz boils it down to this: “Essentially we launched with the idea of providing advanced communications solutions to those who couldn’t otherwise get it.” With a manufacturing facility that builds custom-made equipment and vehicles, Nomad provides mobile communications, most often used in emergency situations. For instance, wildland firefighting command centers established in the wilderness but are needed to be transient use Nomad’s technology and manufacturing. “The thing that sets us apart is that we’re a turn-key integrated technology company as well,” Schmautz said. “You can’t get the whole suite of things from very many companies.” Nomad is developing around a certain future, one where smartphones are integral. “Your smartphone really is the key to the future,” he said. “That’s what Nomad is focusing on now, making sure your smartphone works anywhere and any time.” When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, communications broke down because cell phone towers were overwhelmed immediately. Nomad has a solution. “We are bringing to market here in the next few months essentially small-based cell towers that can be deployed in a few minutes that will be for emergency responders available all day,” he said. Entering the global playing field has lent Nomad very attractive opportunities, but Schmautz reassured the room of local residents that the company isn’t going anywhere. “The truth of the matter is that there may be some logistical value being somewhere else, but I wouldn’t want to have it anywhere else,” he said.Another success story, this one in the form of all-natural lip balm, is taking place in Whitefish. At the dinner, co-owner Neil Stuber touted the successful ingredients of Hurraw!, the 100 percent organic, vegan lip balm sensation that has been raved about in the pages of Oprah Magazine and the New York Times among other prominent publications. Sold in 31 states and 18 countries, Hurraw! has become an overwhelming hit for Neil and his wife Corrie Colbert, who started manufacturing the balm in their kitchen a few years ago. Now the product is being produced in an expansive commercial kitchen and selling roughly 30,000-40,000 units a month. American Apparel stores nationwide sell the product, which has grown to almost 20 different flavors. Stuber said the company is in the process of increasing its staff from seven part-time employees and remains true to its original ideals, including offering a healthy natural product. Even though it would seem natural to grow rapidly, Stuber said Hurraw! is actually limiting its exposure and slowing the marketing. “We’re really trying not to grow too fast,” he said. Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Hurraw! all natural, organic and vegan lip balm is made by Corrie Colbert in Whitefish.last_img

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