Company targets success with its new online product

New managers hired as Brook Group expands

Small business

March 05, 2001|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Kara Brook has seen her Brook Group LTD interactive marketing firm grow at an impressive clip - 45 percent a year for the past five years. Now she wants to make sure it doesn't grow out of hand.

With the development of a new interactive office communications software on the horizon, the Ellicott City-based company is positioning itself for more growth.

Brook recently added two upper-level managers to her team while the company works on a prototype of a Web-based application it hopes to introduce to the market of intranet users this year. She also expects to hire up to 10 people this year, nearly doubling the size of the company she founded 18 years ago.

"I've always believed it's been my strong management skills that's been able to catapult this company forward," Brook said, relaxing in the basement conference room of her three-level Main Street office. "It only made sense to me that bringing other strong executive managers could position us for more growth."

David Beveridge, a former vice president and creative director of EBuild LLC in Washington, joined the company in January as managing director, overseeing the day-to-day operations and helping the company to streamline its process of handling projects for clients. Michael Morello, a former technical product manager at America Online Inc., is the new director of project management at Brook Group, responsible for helping to create the new software.

The new managers will provide new services to the 14-person firm, such as Internet strategy marketing, and their work will free Brook to develop new clients and identify new business opportunities - a key dimension to Brook Group's growth when the software, called Tacklebox, becomes available.

Beveridge said he hopes to smooth out the growing process.

"It's going to get more complicated, and I know how to help make it a little less complicated," he said.

The Brook Group provides online marketing, Web portal design and interface user design. AOL, First Union National Bank and the Department of Justice are among its clients. In addition to developing Web sites, Brook said, the company has created some applications to help better manage the workload. It is one of those in-house applications that Brook hopes will launch a new area of business for her firm.

Tacklebox is a Web-based application that provides tools for office communications online. The customizable software allows scheduling, notices, telephone lists, documents and project goals to be posted online so that anyone in the organization can access the information at any time.

The Brook Group built some of the basics of the software five years ago, and has used the system internally, but the goal was always to market the product.

Beveridge and Morello are developing modules for the various tools in Tacklebox on contract with a government agency, which they would not identify, that has agreed to use a prototype. They expect to complete the project in June, and then offer the prototype to other agencies that have expressed interest in it.

Brook said she is not daunted by the fact that it took six years to find the first client for Tacklebox. She thinks as more government agencies develop intranet systems, her product will fill a void.

"This is a good time for the government market," she said. "All you need is a lot of focus and a lot of commitment, and you can make anything happen."

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