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DDA Takes Firm National Via the Web

June 13, 2000

After a short time in business, Brenda and Rick Fair's corporate client list read like an Atlantic Canada Who's Who. Through Fairwinds Training and Development Inc., their corporate training and strategic planning firm, the husband-and-wife team had already worked for Irving Oil Ltd., Moosehead Breweries, Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and the Halifax Herald, Ltd. Brenda and Rick were ready to go national, but they lacked the means to get their message across to human resources departments across Canada.

At the time, DDA Computer Consultants was developing a strategic plan, with Brenda's assistance. One of the fastest growing IT companies in Atlantic Canada, DDA had recently added Web site development to its arsenal of consulting services. The more she talked to DDA partners Pat d'Entremont and Mario DeMello, the more Brenda began to see how a Web presence could greatly elevate Fairwinds' professionalism while providing a platform from which they could promote themselves nationally.

While there are a lot of companies in the Web construction business these days, Brenda points out that not many of them have been around for 14 years: "Pat and Mario have been around for a long time compared to other IT companies. It gives us a sense of confidence. We know they're not going anywhere. Any 18-year-old kid in this day and age can build a Web site, but then what happens? You've got to know that three years from now, they're going to be around."

The timing was perfect for launching a Web site. "We had already been working for big companies," Brenda recalls, "and now we were starting to make contact with national companies, but we didn't have a Web site. That's when Mario asked us: 'Why would you want to keep your business a secret?' He began to show us how a Web site could fill the gap."

At that point, Mario, Pat, and DDA's graphic designer began asking questions that would help them craft the Fairwinds corporate image and determine what type of Web site would best meet their needs. DDA crafted a compass for the Fairwinds logo to accompany the existing slogan: "Setting the Course for Success", and proceeded to build out the site. Two months after they embarked on the collaborative project, the Fairwinds site ( went live, in January, 1999.

Shortly after the Fairs hung out their cyber shingle, PetroCanada in Calgary found out about Fairwinds through Industry Canada's on-line listing of hiring specialists. They were looking for hiring tools, and Brenda directed them to the site where not only hiring, but also sales training and coaching are featured.

"As a result, we were able to secure a contract with PetroCanada national, for hiring, sales training, and coaching," Brenda enthuses. "Wow! They were looking for all of that! If we didn't have a Web site, we would have talked about hiring tools, and left it at that."

After that initial call, Rick flew to Toronto and gave a sales presentation to 37 PetroCanada executives. "I was able to flash our corporate logo and Web page," he says, "and hand out a very professional document. All of this took us to a different level."

Largely as a result of the PetroCanada contract, Fairwinds' revenues in the first quarter of 2000 exceeded their revenues for all of 1999.

Looking back, Brenda confirms that the company's rapid growth began around the time of the Web site launch. "Our Web presence has certainly contributed a great deal to our ability to market nationally, and locally."

Rick points out how "unbelievably inexpensive" their electronic brochure is compared to the high-gloss kit folders they used to hand out to prospective clients, not to mention the fact that DDA is available to update their site information in the blink of an eye. As a result, the Fairwinds kit folder has gone the way of the dodo bird. He also delights in referring interested parties to the Web site instead of mailing out brochures. ("We used to hate having to send information in the mail," Rick confides. "It took a lot of time and a 46 cent stamp-and it was a real pain.")

Brenda attributes the success of the site to DDA's guidance as the consultative partner. "They were not pretentious IT people who assumed we knew what we were doing. We were ignorant about the Web, and they asked us all the right questions. It wasand is, to this daya true partnership."

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