Taste of Missoula: International tech leaders to converge for diversified summit

Ann Karp with Sideways Gaze Signs prepares the windows of Advanced Technology Group’s downtown office for next week’s “Quote to Cast” summit, in which up to 160 of the world’s top tech leaders will arrive in Missoula. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

It may be a play on words but the impact is the same – hundreds of the world’s top tech leaders converging on Missoula for a taste of Montana and a deep dive into what Advanced Technology Group does so well.

Welcome to the second annual “Quote to Cast: Teaming for Success.”

“We work in this space called Quote to Cash, so that’s our little play, getting folks from industry coming to Montana to talk about what’s going on in Quote to Cash,” said Tom Stergios, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development with ATG. “It’s all very first class, very Missoula and very hospitable.”

From the CIO of Kronos to the vice president of IBM, company heads will arrive in Missoula next week. Stergios expects 160 people to fly in from 31 states and nine countries, including Africa, Australia, Canada, France and Germany.

Peter Coffee, the vice president of strategic research for Salesforce – one of ATG’s largest clients – will deliver the keynote address. Participants will embark on industry specific topics, from women in technology leadership to the wonky side of tech and the industry’s best practices.

“We’re a consulting company, and our clients look to us to help them with technology strategy and implementations,” Stergios said. “At the conference we will have some of the largest software solution providers in the world.  We team with these providers to deliver world class solutions for our joint clients.  That’s why we are celebrating Teaming for Success as the theme for this year’s summit”

A March report commissioned by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance found that growth projected by the state’s technology companies exceeded statewide economic growth. The industry will add more than 1,100 new jobs this year, an 18 percent increase that’s outpacing the overall economy.

The report also found that Montana’s technology sector infused the state with $1.4 billion in gross sales in 2017. That was up from $1.1 billion the year before. ATG’s economic impact on Missoula alone surpassed $21 million, along with $8 million paid in wages.

The impact ripples through the local economy. When Quote to Cast kicks off next week, participants will indulge in the best of Missoula. ATG has booked nearly every river guide in town and rented the zip line at Snowbowl. Fly fishing is on the agenda, along with beer tasting and a huckleberry hike.

“It’s a marketing industry event, and the idea is to generate new ideas,” said Stergios. “These conferences happen all over the world, typically in Las Vegas, San Francisco or Chicago. There’s a few boutique events, but we’re trying to break the mold and do something different.”

Tom Stergios, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development with ATG, recently celebrated the company’s 100th Missoula employee. ATG’s Missoula office now counts 141 employees on its payroll. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Past reports have indicated Montana’s quality of life as a driving factor for the tech industry’s statewide growth. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock put it this way: “Montana is increasingly seen as an ideal choice for companies that not only value a strong business climate and educated workforce, but a place where quality of life matters.”

That quality of life prompted several companies to locate offices in Missoula this year, including Firebrand Creative and 4Cast, a diversified Israeli tech firm that plans to hire 100 employees over the next two years.

ClassPass, which opened its third North American office in Missoula earlier this year, said the Garden City “checked all the right boxes.” Stergios believes the second annual Quote to Cast event will continue to put Missoula in front of international job creators, and word of mouth goes far.

ATG uses the event for year-round marketing.

“It’s a show and tell of the best of Missoula,” he said. “We’re inviting a few companies from Bozeman, and the Montana High Tech Business Alliance will be here speaking. We really want it to be intimate. We work in a space that’s pretty specific.”