Two Chatham County companies have merged to form Blast Internet Services, and its initial focus will be on developing Web sites and e-commerce solutions for retail and catalogue sales companies.

The new company, which will be based in Pittsboro, was formed from Web developer EMJ Internet (EMJI), a subsidiary of hardware and software distributor EMJ America, and BLAST Inc., an automated file transfer software company.

The deal was structured as a merger with the exchange of an undisclosed amount of cash and stock on both sides. Blast Internet Services will have 22 employees, retaining all 17 people from EMJI, and all five from BLAST.

Diane Pettus, spokeswoman for the new company, says the merger will allow BLAST to acquire assets of the latest Internet technologies from EMJI, as well as an infrastructure that can assure BLAST products and services a quick transition to the Web.

For EMJI, the larger of the two merging companies, the reasons were more numerous.

“EMJI acquires a large asset infusion of server equipment that will significantly expand its capabilities to serve, process and host Web site and Internet technologies,” Pettus says. “EMJI will become part of a company known for its experience and talent in programming and technical support.”

She says EMJI also will acquire the financial assets and account management solutions needed to further its growth, adding that the company will join with personnel at BLAST who have “significant experience” in business development in EMJI’s target markets.

Combined, EMJI and BLAST will give Blast Internet Services an impressive list of clients, including Overton’s Watersports, Biovail Pharmaceuticals, Pearl Vision, Pizza Hut, Southern States, GlaxoSmithKline, NCR, The Bank of Montreal, 7-Eleven and the North Carolina Museum of Art. Blast Internet has projected that its first year’s revenues will be between $2 million and $5 million.

The management team at Blast Internet Services is composed of both EMJI and BLAST executives. Former EMJI President Bret Pedigo will serve as president of the new company. Steve Rogers, former BLAST president, will be vice president and chief technical officer of Blast Internet Services. Scott Every is the new chief executive officer.

EMJI was established in 1995 as one of the first Internet services firms in the Triangle. EMJI has provided Internet, intranet, extranet and hosting services for a wide range of clients, from entrepreneurial startups to GSK. EMJI also operates as an ISP for Chatham County and the Triangle.

Rogers began BLAST in the 1970s in Baton Rouge, LA. Its software was originally developed to transfer files between two computers. Since then, BLAST has developed ways to automate data transmission over connections between multiple sites and operating systems. At its height in 1999, BLAST had 13 employees, but has since downsized.