Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Fridays in WRAL Local Tech Wire.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – You know that the founders of Charlotte-based ettain group truly understand the intricacies and importance of teamwork and working together: When they started the IT staffing company 10 years ago, it was in the same house where three of the four principals lived.

While ettain group (www.ettaingroup.com )moved out of the house a few months later and all four men now have their own homes, that initial time together has formed a bond still apparent today.

Jon Olin, Jeff Harris, Rob Eubank and Brian Deblitz grew the company — initially called Tech Solutions — quickly, and opened a second office in Atlanta two years later in April 1998. A Jacksonville, Fl. office opened in 1999; today there are also offices in Raleigh and Washington, DC. There are 95 employees in the five offices; 45 of them in Charlotte. Plus it has 350 technical consultants working at client locations.

The company does not release revenue figures, but Olin said it has had an annual growth rate of about 30% and has “never had a down year”.

Said Harris, “Our internal staff deserves the majority of the credit.” He added that many of their clients are in health care, which was not heavily impacted by the 2001 economic slowdown.

By 2000, the company had added professional services. Then in 2002, it took on a new identity and expanded its scope of work when it merged with a web development and application firm called the ettain group. “Our staffing services still account for 90-95% of our revenues, but the project work supports the staffing side and enables us to sell high level contracts,” Harris said. . “The technology leadership that the Professional Services Division brings, allows us to better understand the business and technology needs of our clients.”

Providing in house senior resources is another reason for ettain group’s growth on the professional service side, said associate partner Dan Royle. “Because of our successful delivery, our customers see our people as part of their staff from a strategic viewpoint,” he said. “In turn our customers stay with us for a long time.” For example, Lance has been an ettain customer for five years, and Harris-Teeter for three.

Other clients include Bank of America and Wachovia in Charlotte; Blue Cross Blue Shield in Columbia and Jacksonville; and Sun Trust and Home Depot in Atlanta.

Even with so many tech jobs being outsourced these days, ettain is not seeing a decrease in the needs of its clients. “We’re focusing on finding tech leadership, like senior engineers, project managers and business analysts,” Olin observed. “But it is getting harder to find candidates with those skill sets.

“But, Olin added, “we are a recruiting company that teaches our people how to find them. It starts with networking and building relationships with core people. It’s more than just access to the Internet.”

Noted Harris, “Any recruiter can go on Monster.com or other resume sites and find out who’s available, but we don’t see much value in that. Our recruiters are out in the field and meeting with customers and contractors and attending networking events.”

“We understand what our clients are looking for — it’s not just the job requirements, but what you want those skills for,” said Royle.

Harris said ettain is anticipating a record year for 2006 and is on track to open five more offices in the Southeast and to triple revenues by 2009. But he stressed the company is not “a body shop. We can’t be everything to everybody,” he explained. “We go deeper to understand our clients’ business.”

Ettian recently added another honor to its list of accomplishments. This spring, it became a Gold Certified Microsoft partner, making it one of the few such certified companies headquartered in Charlotte to focus on Information Worker (IW) and Custom Development Solutions.

UNC Charlotte Start-up Wins $25,000 Grant

InsituTec Inc, a UNCC start-up, has received a $25,000 NCIDEA (NC Innovative Development for Economic Advancement) grant after an eight-week business competition among some 60 businesses. The company uses a novel measurement technology for challenging manufactured features in the microscale and nanoscale sciences. Possible markets include the automotive industry to measure spray holes in diesel injectors and the aerospace industry to measure airfoil cooling holes in turbine blades.

The funds will help InsituTec focus business efforts in international and domestic patent filings, gather market surveys in several leading industries, develop marketing strategies and promote products at national trade shows. NC IDEA was formed last year, and its objective is to support business innovation in North Carolina through business development grants, loans and venture funding that aids innovative technology companies bridge the gap between seed funding and venture capital funding.

Sponsoring Groups Named for Microsoft Launch

The list of sponsoring groups for the June 13 Carolinas launch of Microsoft’s latest products — Windows Vista and Office 12 Exchange — has been finalized. Attendance is open only to members of these groups. (If you’re not currently a member, many of the groups allow you to join online.)

The event will be the regular monthly meeting of the Carolina IT Professionals Group and will be held at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, starting with a networking session and informal dinner at 5:30 p.m. There’s a $4 charge for the meal. (For more details and directions, visit www.citpg.org ).

The groups are: AITP, Charlotte, Charleston, RTP chapters; Carolina IT Professionals Group; Charlotte SBS Group; Enterprise Developers Guild; Information Technology Professionals of South Carolina; Southeast Management User Group; Greenville-Spartanburg Enterprise Developer’s Guild; SQL Server Innovators Guild; Triangle SBS User Group; Triad SBS Group.