Every customer wants to feel like they are special, and their business is appreciated. This is exactly how Lakes Area Web Services out of Fergus Falls and their sister company, Esultants in the Twin Cities, has been making their customers feel for almost 20 years. Esultants began in 1999 out of a need for businesses starting a website for the first time. There was a company called Express Pages Company that would send businesses a one-page sheet of paper to include a photo representing their business and an explanation of their story. Then, Express Pages would build them a one-page website for free of charge for three months. If they wanted to continue or expand on the website after that, they would pay. The company grew so big and they had so many customers calling and asking for more, they needed consultants to help with that work. Esultants was born from that need.
Currently, the company offers services for everything including hosting, content management systems, custom programming, social media, graphic design, photography, email marketing and e-commerce. They are a full-service company where no work is farmed out. Between the two companies, they have 8-10 employees, all who have worked with them for years.
Scott Christison, co-owner of Lakes Area Web Services, still prefers the title consultant, as he is down-to-earth and likes to be on a personal basis with all his customers. He found Esultants when he was looking for someone to build a website for his hockey training company called Goalies Only. He was so impressed with the customer service and the help he received from the company, that he became a consultant himself and worked for the company. Scott loved that in a world that was trying to do more and more in less time and that was becoming less and less personable, Esultants still met their customers face to face and had a real relationship with them. That original website for Goalies Only still exists today and almost 20 years later, the company has grown and is still in business for private goalie training.
When Scott met the love of his life and she got a job in Fergus Falls, he told Jeff Schissler, the owner of Esultants, that he was moving to Fergus Falls and he wanted to start a sister company there. Lucky for Scott and the growth and success of the company, Scott was able to keep working for them and opened Lakes Area Web Services. Scott and his family have loved living in the Fergus Falls community. “For the population of Fergus Falls, it’s a small town. You can get to know everyone, but also not have to be known by everyone,” says Scott of Fergus Falls. “They are a conservative yet progressive community. Whenever someone needs a hand, whether you are from the area or not, people step up. If you are willing to help the community, the community will help you,” he adds.
And it’s the kind of small town, name-to-name, friendly basis that has set Esultants apart from other similar companies in the cities. “Our motto is brining small town back to the big city,” says Scott. “Jeff and I both realized we like to hunt, fish and get along with people, and that’s when Esultants took off. We got rid of the suit and ties, drove vehicles we like and are comfortable in (trucks) and just build real relationships with people. It’s not always about a price or discount: our customers trust us.”
Scott admits that working for a company all about technology, sometimes it’s hard to be ahead of the curve and always be forward thinking. There are so many new trends people hear about and believe things whether they are true or false. “We try to research these trends and then communicate with our customers on a regular basis and show them what’s coming up so when it does, it’s not so scary,” says Scott. At the end of the day in a world of technology that is confusing, they hope to be a familiar and comforting face their customers can come to for help.
Although they have considered expanding and opening another company somewhere warm where they can enjoy winters, Scott admits it would have to be the right fit for the company and they hesitate because they want to stay on a personal, shaking hands business with their customers. “It may sound cliché, but if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” says Scott.