|From left, Steve Gordon, Robert Brown and Jason Houser founded Inhouse Associates 10 years ago with a desire to break into the Internet revolution.|
Inhouse Associates founders still excited by future of Web
By MIKE ELSWICK - Published August 17, 2008
The founders of Longview's Inhouse Associates did not realize it at the time, but they were getting in on the ground floor of a revolution taking place in information dissemination.
It was August 1998 when they merged their collective computer and Internet Web design skills. The result was a fledging company they called Inhouse Associates.
"It surprises us where we are today and where the Internet is," said Jason Houser, one of the three founders. It was the dream and goal of Houser and fellow partners Steve Gordon and Robert Brown to "be on the cutting edge of the Internet."
One of their biggest challenges a decade ago was convincing potential business clients they should have a presence on the Web, Brown said.
"It was an abstract idea for many people," he said. The trio found enough work to keep them busy, and today Inhouse has more than 150 active clients from coast to coast for whom they provide design and Internet support.
"At the time we got started we thought we might have missed out. We thought that everything the Internet was going to do had already happened," Brown said. "Back then the idea of the Internet as a platform to do business was foreign to most people."
Brown said only in recent years have all the computer and programming tools been developed that allow them to do the things and provide the services for their customers they want to be able to provide.
"Today we have clients who do all their business strictly online," Houser said.
Gordon said while they have seen big advances in technology and use of the Internet, they strive to continue to stay on top of what's happening in the field to better serve their clients.
"Today we're tying in PDAs (personal digital assistants or hand-held wireless computers) and providing more services for our customers than ever," Gordon said. He expects that trend of even more technological evolution to keep them challenged and to help keep their clients keep up with changes.
"Our customers and their needs drive the process," Houser said. He said one philosophy of business that Inhouse Associates adopted early on has served the firm well.
"The thing that drives what we do are the needs of the customers," Houser said. Brown said many of their clients who have tried other firms have told the Inhouse team that other companies go into a client relationship with the idea of telling the client what the Web developers think the client needs.
The founders say their personalities and areas of expertise mesh well together.
Houser serves as the research and development guy who continues to find new ways for Inhouse to do things to meet client needs in the best way possible.
Brown takes care of most of the sales and marketing duties, while Gordon serves as a project manager who troubleshoots and helps implement the technology to fit client needs.
The firm has eight employees and is in the Austin Bank Building at 911 NW Loop 281.
Brown said the firm's continued focus on making their customers look good and be functional on the Internet is their thrust.
Inhouse Associates was founded in Tyler with an initial investment of about $1,000. The trio made the move to Longview soon after starting the venture when they realized that much of their business was coming from Longview.
The client list of Inhouse Associates includes long- time local customers such as Good Shepherd Medical Center, TEC Well Service and medical billing firm Specialty Group Services.
They have expanded into handling Web needs for Department of Defense suppliers and have had the opportunity to learn all about battlefield simulation.
Cindy Pittmon, owner of Specialty Group Services, said she had worked with a national software company for almost two years to meet her firm's needs to implement an automated medical procedure coding system that could tie in the diverse computer systems used by her hospital clients.
"Those hospitals, each with unique information systems, were unable and/or unwilling to provide us with their source code or file maps of the data we needed to capture," Pittmon said. She had worked with Inhouse on other projects and asked for their help with her latest computer challenge.
"Even though they told us up front they were not experienced with (her firm's computer system), in about two hours they wrote a program to reorganize the diverse hospital databases into a usable format," Pittmon said.
"The work Inhouse did for us enabled our company to save 159 employee-hours every week, or $107,000 annually."
That is the kind of challenge that keeps the Inhouse staff excited, Brown said.
"It's not what we can do, it's what the client wants," Brown said. "And we have all the tools right here to make it happen."
The firm has a staff member on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to handle any problems that might arise, he said.
"It's never been boring," Houser said of the firm's past 10 years. "And we're always learning. If we didn't learn something new today then we didn't work hard enough."
As far as they and the Internet have come, all three principles in the firm said they are looking forward to the future.
"As fast as technology is moving, the next 10 years should be even more exciting," Brown said.
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At a glance
What: Inhouse Associates; a Web design and service firm
When: Founded in August 1998; office open Monday through Friday; on call 24/7
Where: 911 NW Loop 281, Suite 419
Founders and owner: Robert Brown, Jason Houser and Steve Gordon
Contact: (903) 753-3551
For more information: www.teaminhouse.com
Partial client list: Kustom Amps, Cincinnati, Ohio (www.kustom.com); Good Shepherd Medical Center (www.gsmc.org); Century 21 The Elite Group (www.century21theelitegroup.com); Kilgore College (www.kilgore.edu); Tec Well Service (www.tecwell.com);
(c) 2008 Cox Newspapers, Inc. - Longview News-Journal