Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Having survived a launch in a tough economic environment, ProfIT/CS is growing.

ProfIT/CS just landed a large construction company, FT Thompson Co., for its technical audit services. Its founder, David Griffin, tells Local Tech Wire that he and his wife started the IT consulting and out-sourced services company in 2001 — not the best economic period for new tech firms.

“I had impeccable timing,” Griffin quips.

Griffin’s small company of six independent contractors has done all right, though, he says. “Our approach differentiates us from other players,” he says. “We provide any type of IT service a small to mid-sized company needs.” By small to mid-sized he means businesses of 10 computers and one or more servers to those with 200 end users and a dozen or so servers.

If a company needs it, Griffin explains, his company provides the services of a chief information officer to firms too small to hire a full-time person. ProfIT/CS has 30 clients and offers a full range of IT services, from installing new software and hardware to maintenance chores.

Griffin admits things are looking better now than they did in 2001 or last year.

“We’re seeing quite a bit of activity. We have a couple of marketing programs in place that are starting to produce. A year ago everything was stagnant. Now companies are making decisions to move ahead with things. We provide long-term services for most of our customers and they’re all signing up again.”

He says the only customers his company lost outgrew his firm. “We help them do that through a smooth transition,” he adds.

In a job such as the one for FT Thompson’s Charlotte headquarters, ProfIT/CS examines the company’s operations and tells it how it might use technology better to streamline and cut costs. “They’re one of the larger firms we work with,” says Griffin, “so they have a set budget process. A tech committee reviews the recommendations.”

Lead Dog hits the street

Lead Dog Communications, which launched this week, is selling public relations services for instance – one of the first budgets cut when the economy sours.

“The reality is that companies weren’t spending any money on public relations in 2003,” says James Abt, president of Lead Dog.

“Listening to perspective clients, it appears that budgets are bouncing back. They’ll be ramping back up spending in the first and second quarter of 2004,” Abt tells Local Tech Wire. “They’re reviewing budgets for next year right now. Getting in front of them was part of the reason we launched now.”

We asked Abt how he plans to differentiate Lead Dog from the numerous other PR firms in the area large and small.

“Passion,” Abt says. “We’ve brought together a group of people who have a passion to make Lead Dog successful and to appreciate the passion other companies have. You choose a company you have a passion for and doing the job right. When you have that passion it resonates with journalists and analysts and potential customers.”

The impressively staffed agency bases Abt and web and logo designer Trina Smith in Charlotte. Other members of the team are based in Buffalo, New York, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas. They include Bill Bennett, Christina M. Dau, and Christian Scarborough.

Abt says Lead Dog has three clients it expects to announce in the next six weeks. They’ll need to sign up clients. Abt says they’re going to run the company on revenue.

He says although his expertise is in tech PR the firm plans to expand into other markets. Its staff has expertise in everything from journalism to marketing, investor relations and advertising for major firms. Potential clients in Buffalo include a life sciences company and a financial institution, he says.

Next week we’ll tell you about another start-up focused on a new approach to tech staffing.

Rollover adds high-profile client

RolloverSystems, which sells technology-based 401(k) rollover products and services quietly, added a new logo to its network partners last week.

When the company started in March, it included some impressive partners: JP Morgan Chase, TDWaterhouse Investors Services and harrisdirect. If you looked in after last Wednesday, however, you would have noticed Merrill Lynch is now included.

Merrill Lynch generally sends out a news release or lets partners do it after a month or so.

Pumping up the database

The Internet was once touted as the be all and end all of business-to-business marketplaces, but thus far, things have not worked out that way. Instead, the Internet has become a valued part of a marketing mix for industrial and business-to-business companies such as Imo Pump of Monroe.

Copley Internet Systems Inc. says it just upgraded the pump company’s Internet site to give its customers secure online access to order archives spanning several decades.

The archives are linked to the Imo Pump’s online parts and availability database, which lets customers quickly find replacements, repair parts and upgrades for their pumps.

After the Internet boom crashed, numerous business-to-business exchange sites found that companies could build their own sites or create their own exchanges. Copley is a firm that has profited from that trend.

Copley, founded in 1997, designs sites for a number of such clients, such as apparel companies Carolina Made, Staton Wholesale, The American Co., and Jonathan Corey, and online nutrition guide, Total Nutrition Technology.

Lead Dog Communications: www.leaddogcom.com

Copley Internet: www.copleyinternet.com

ProfIT/CS: www.profitcs.com

Rollover Systems: www.rolloversystems.com