By the time Advanced Technology Group inflated the balloons to celebrate its 100 employees on Friday night, the last two digits were already obsolete.

The problem was, nobody had the one and two to make it 112.

Still, the milestone was worthy of celebration and ATG, it turns out, knows how to host a party and give thanks to its employees. The tech company celebrated its growth in Missoula at a downtown event over the weekend, complete with an open bar and an atmosphere that resembled a discotheque.

“To be here in Missoula and be ahead of our goals for what we said for employee growth is tremendous,” said Tom Stergios, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development. “We’ll add 20 more this year, targeting 80 more by the end of next year. We’re looking at 250 employees in Missoula by the middle of 2019.

"With the tremendous growth of ATG’s other offices around the country, ATG as a whole is poised to be a formidable presence in the enterprise consulting world.”

Such employment projections may seem lofty until one considers how ATG's Missoula location began with just two employees in 2011. Since then, it has emerged as the city's fastest-growing company and has quickly filled up office space on Main Street.

Along the way, it has landed its share of global clients, including SalesForce, Concur and Experian, among many others.

With a payroll now pushing $10 million, ATG's growing workforce injects an estimated $23.4 million into the local economy each year. Both the company and the city have come a long ways since Stergois began consulting with ATG's Kansas City office from his Missoula basement.

“Missoula back in those days was going through some pretty hard times,” said Sam Jankovich, senior director of business development with ATG. “The lumber industry was upside down and the mill was closing. (Stergois) had this vision of jobs in Missoula.”

Stergios, a Missoula native, recalled his days as a kid drinking coffee with his father at a downtown drugstore. He gained an affinity for the district and now, years later, he plans to keep ATG based in the city's core, even as it looks for room to grow.

Employees at ATG have praised the company for its high wages, fun atmosphere and family-friendly environment. (Missoula Current)
Employees at ATG have praised the company for its high wages, fun atmosphere and family-friendly environment. (Missoula Current)

While ATG has yet to announce its building plans for the future, a number of speculations have begun to circulate. Stergios declined to address them at the celebration, focusing instead on the company's growth and its employees.

“Now the percentages are catching up to us,” Stergios said. “Everyone wants to work here. Not just in Missoula, but people are coming in from out of state saying they love Montana. The ability for us to bring Montanans back to Montana and keep Montanans in Montana, that's powerful. What an economic stimulus it can be for the whole state.”

ATG's success is tied in part to the rise of the subscription economy, with customers paying for repeating services over one-time purchases. In that arena, ATG helps companies with revenues measured in the billions of dollars identify what's working and what's not with their consumer interactions.

“I need to be relevant with my customers and partners, and that means we need to be the best in the world at what we do,” Stergios said. “Right now, we're at 112 people that are viewed by the industry as being the best in the world. We're competing with some of the largest companies in the world, and we need to continue to be better than them and continue to grow.”