Growing a business out of Thin Air a better way of empowering clients

Growing a business out of Thin Air a better way of empowering clients
Marc Terrien oversees Thin Air, a Web site design, software development and digital marketing firm based in Grand Junction. Now in its 10th year, Thin Air continues to expand with the acquisition of Flexiss Digital Design, another local Website design and development firm. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Marc Terrien oversees a Grand Junction-based firm that offers Web site design, software development and digital marketing services.

But Terrien has a different way of describing the operation that summarizes what he sees as the benefits of the various services. “We’re in the empowerment business.”

Thin Air Web empowers clients to sell more products and services, better manage customer relationships and communicate more effectively, Terrien said. What’s more, Thin Air can do as much or as little as clients want in handling everything, providing instruction and support so they can do it on their own or something in between, he said.

The empowerment business has been a good business lately. Thin Air has tripled its gross billings even as it expands in terms of both the services the firm provides and geographic areas in which it provides them. Thin Air further lengthened its list of clients after acquiring Flexiss Digital Design, another Grand Junction Website design and development firm.

“It’s a really good fit for us,” Terrien said of Flexiss and its clientele of small businesses, real estate agents and nonprofit organizations. Flexiss also has created WordPress software plugins to service specific industry needs.

Terrien serves as president of Thin Air Web and has operated the firm  for 10 years along with his wife, Alowetta, who’s vice president.

Marc Terrien brings to the venture varied experiences in management and sales positions with a national home improvement store, printing businesses and what was at one time the largest independent retailer of Hawaiian shirts in the United States.

Terrien said he’s gained over the course of his career experience in management and sales as well as an ability to explain technical matters in a way people can understand. Moreover, he said he can relate to his small business clients because he’s been a small business owner for more than 20 years.

Terrien went to work for himself in 2005 in Crawford in launching a small firm offering Web site, information technology and real estate photography services. The operation expanded in 2007 when the Terriens acquired Thin Air, a Web development business that had been operating in Crested Butte since 1998.

The Terriens moved back to Grand Junction in 2010 to enjoy the warmer climate as well as opportunities to interact face-to-face with more clients.

In 2014, Thin Air joined forces with Josh Lewis and Momentum Interactive, a marketing firm based in Aspen, to help clients develop online marketing strategies. In August, Thin Air acquired Flexiss Design from Scott Callas. With its various operations and partnerships, Thin Air maintains a presence in Grand Junction, Crested Butte and Aspen as well as Dallas.

Thin Air has no employees, though, Terrien said the firm contracts with a team of experts that includes Web developers and software designers as well as digital marketing and project managers.

This virtual team includes a core of talent that’s worked together for five to 10 years.

Thin Air serves more than 300 clients, including everything from small businesses to large corporations and nonprofit groups to government agencies.

Many of the Web sites Thin Air creates for clients are customized to meet their specialized needs, Terrien said.

Thin Air took over a Web site development project for Mesa Valley Community School, a charter school for about 300 home-schooled students. The Web site accommodates a variety of functions for not only students and their parents, but also academic advisors and staff, Terrien said.

Thin Air created another custom Web site for Frank Henry Equipment, an energy sector equipment supplier based in Fruita.  The site manages testing and certification of equipment.

Yet another Web site for the Red Rock 4-Wheelers manages online registration for an annual Jeep Safari that brings more than 3,000 participants to Moab, Utah. The site accommodates not only registrations for the event, but also manages registrations for specific trails by screening vehicles that meet the requirements of those trails.

Thin Air also was involved in a project to create a Chinese language version of a Web site for Reynolds Polymer, the Grand Junction-based manufacturer of components used in massive aquariums constructed around the world.

A Web site Thin Air developed for Crested Butte remains the most popular online venue for people seeking information about the resort town,  said Alowetta Terrien.

“We get to do a lot of fun projects,” she said.

In addition to custom Web site development, Thin Air also offers services related to digital marketing, including e-mail marketing and assistance with social media. The important thing, she said, is to incorporate the various aspects of marketing into an overall strategy.

Alowetta Terrien said the company is unique in that clients determine their  own levels of involvement in maintaining Web sites, e-mail newsletters and other efforts, although training and support is always available. “We allow people to do as much as they want to do or as little as they want to do.”

Marc Terrien said the latest evolution in Web site development comes in response to the increasing use of smart phones and other mobile devices to obtain information and the growing importance of online searches based on the locations of users. To remain effective, Web sites must be mobile-friendly, he said.

In the process, businesses can take advantage of potential customers actively looking for local products and services, he said. “Businesses need to leverage everything they can.”

But Thin Air is available to help clients, he said, which what the empowerment business is all about.

For more information about Thin Air Web, call 243-5429 or visit www.thinairweb.com.