By Christina Henderson
On July 13, 2018, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance announced a list of 25 Montana Top Tech Employers. This list was created to help job-seekers and community leaders identify Montana high-tech and manufacturing companies that are creating jobs, investing in their communities, and bringing wealth into the state.
Companies selected fit two or more of the following criteria:
- 20 or more employees
- Plans to grow workforce in Montana
- Consistently hiring
- Established in the state for more than 10 years
- Involved in the community
All firms selected hire skilled employees and leverage technology in their operations. The list reveals a number of statewide trends.
Bozeman companies were featured heavily on the list, with 10 of the 25 companies located in the Gallatin Valley. A number of Bozeman’s top tech employers like Oracle, FICO, and Helix Business Solutions (also in Dillon) highlight the lasting impact of RightNow Technologies. Growing companies that have spun off from larger photonics firms like Blackmore Sensors and Analytics and Montana Instrumentsunderscore the continued strength of Bozeman’s photonics sector.
Missoula had the second-largest group of employers with five companies making the list. Like many other top Montana tech employers, three homegrown Missoula firms – Blackfoot, Edulog, and WGM Group – have been operating for decades. But Missoula, like other Montana cities, has also proven attractive for out-of-state companies like ATG and AT&T to plant second offices that have grown to employ more than 100 people.
Beyond these two tech hubs, the list shows that Montana’s high-tech sector is impacting the entire state, including some cities you might not expect. Eight other communities were represented – 2 in Lewistown, 2 in the Kalispell area, 1 in Billings, 1 in Hamilton, 1 in Dillon, 1 in Butte, 1 in Helena, 1 in Great Falls.
Top tech employers on the list are in varied industries like engineering, manufacturing, consulting, construction, retail, software and photonics. The presence of some companies in surprising fields that are not traditionally thought of as “high-tech” indicates how much technology is transforming longstanding industries – for example:
- Kampgrounds of America is leveraging online booking systems and apps to better serve its customers in camping/hospitality.
- Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply has delved deep into ecommerce and digital media to expand its retail operations and fuel a period of steep growth.
- Construction companies like Century Companies and Allied Steel have computers driving heavy equipment and use project management software to bid and manage projects as far away as Alaska.
These companies are the backbone of Montana’s tech and manufacturing industry, employing thousands across Montana and serving customers around the world. Their impact on Montana’s economy is huge.
A 2018 survey conducted by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research found Montana’s high-tech companies are growing nine times faster than other sectors and generated a record $1.7 billion in revenues in 2017. These firms expect to add nearly 1,200 new jobs this year.
Job-seekers can visit MTHighTech.org/Jobs for open positions – more than 200 jobs are now listed. Positions involve a wide variety of skill sets and education levels – from welding to customer service.
The Alliance has published three previous lists of growing Montana tech companies, which are available at MTHighTech.org. 60 companies have been highlighted to date:
- Montana High-Growth Companies to Watch 2018 (12 firms)
- Montana Startups to Watch in 2018 (8 firms)
- Montana Companies to Watch in 2017 (15 firms)
The 2018 Top Montana Tech Employers list has attracted extensive interest from statewide media.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, ATG, Blackfoot: Looking for a tech job? Here’s your starter list of Montana’s top employers (Missoula Current)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Montana Instruments: Bozeman companies dominate statewide Top Tech Employers list (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Advanced Electronic Designs, Rocky Mountain Bank: New tech business ranking shows Bozeman leading the pack in Montana (KBZK), New tech business ranking shows Bozeman leading the pack in Montana (KTVH)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Synesis7: Butte company makes Montana High Tech Business Alliance’s list of top tech employers in the state (Montana Standard)
About the author: Christina Quick Henderson is executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance and adjunct professor of management and organizational behavior in the College of Business at the University of Montana.
About the publisher: Launched in 2014, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of 350 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates.