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May 3, 2010 | last updated December 1, 2011 6:01 am

Maine IT veteran eyes T4G growth

Photo/Robert M. Cook
Photo/Robert M. Cook
B.J. Carter stands outside the offices of T4G's United States headquarters in Island Point Center in Saco. Carter, a Maine native, is heading up the Toronto-based IT corporation's expansion into the U.S.

B. J. Carter, the new head of T4G's U.S. operations, exudes nothing but confidence from his new office that overlooks the Saco River and the Island Point Center mill complex.

The Maine native has set his sights high, aiming to generate $15 million to $25 million in annual revenue within five years for the Toronto, Canada-based IT firm by giving it a real stake in the future technology infrastructure needs of the state's hospitals, energy-efficiency efforts and broadband expansion plans for northern Maine.

T4G specializes in helping some of North America's largest retailers move data, video, images and other information more seamlessly via their websites and applications for smart phones and other wireless devices. Some of T4G's customers include L.L.Bean in Freeport, Macy's, Sears Canada and Bell Canada.

The United States provides up to 40% of T4G's business, and Carter was charged with finding the best site for the company to establish its American presence. Perhaps best known in the state from his stint as chief information officer of the Maine Technical College System from 1998 to 2000, Carter looked at sites in Augusta, Brunswick and Portland before falling in love with the Saco site. "It felt like home," he says.

The fifth-floor office space, with its original brick walls, wooden ceiling beams and expansive views of the Saco River, reflects T4G's entrepreneurial spirit, Carter says. The office, which will encompass up to 7,000 square feet, also provides Carter with a short commute from his home in Gray, where he and his wife are raising three boys, ages, 5, 7 and 9.

The millions of dollars of Pine Tree Development Zone tax benefits the company won for choosing Saco didn't hurt either. An employee tax incentive that allows the company to recoup 80% of income taxes paid by employees was the most appealing, Carter says.

T4G, which generated $30 million (Canadian) in revenue last year, decided to locate its first U.S. office in Saco for several reasons, according to Carter's boss, company president Geoff Flood. Chief among them was "to go where the smart people want to live." Flood says he would like to see T4G's U.S. office in Saco grow from three to 12 employees by the end of this year and generate $3 million to $4 million in new business.

Carter, a former paratrooper with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, is already eyeing a loftier goal. "Ideally, I would like to have 35 [or] 45 people work out of this office," he says. Before he joined the company in 2009, Carter worked for T4G competitor x-wave/Bell Aliant, and helped it create 100 new IT jobs in Maine before that company's U.S. division was sold in June.

A Boothbay Harbor native raised in Brunswick, Carter says he expects to hire from a wide pool of qualified IT professionals in the state. "Maine's a great place for talent. Not everybody realizes that," he says.

Betsy Biemann, president of the Maine Technology Institute in Gardiner, says Maine is on the right track by putting policies in place to encourage the growth of its high-tech industry."The new knowledge worker not only wants to work for an exciting company, but they also want to go kayaking at 5:30 instead of sitting in a traffic jam," she says.

Will Armitage, executive director of the Biddeford-Saco Economic Development Corp., says T4G's presence in Saco shows how the creative economy may take shape in southern Maine. The close proximity of the Amtrak Downeaster station was also a strong selling point, he says.

Carter envisions T4G working with hospitals to help them meet a federal mandate, signed into law by President Obama as part of the health reform act, to digitize individual patient medical records by 2015. Citing the shortage of health industry IT professionals, Carter says, "There's not enough feet on the ground" to help health care facilities deploy electronic medical records technology.

The state's $30 million Three Ring Binder project headed up by the Maine Fiber Co. — and spearheaded by T4G's new neighbor, GWI, in Biddeford — to provide broadband Internet access to businesses, University of Maine System campuses, health care facilities and residents in northern Maine is another area where Carter sees a potential role for T4G. That could involve helping Maine Fiber Co. to organize deployment of the project, he says.

He also sees T4G working with colleges and businesses to improve their energy efficiency by developing IT solutions to identify areas where they are using the most energy.

T4G president Flood predicts the company will reach $37 million in revenues in 2010, after a flat year in 2009. "Being strong and attractive when the market is getting back on its feet puts you ahead of the pack when things get rolling again," he says. Carter, with his proven track record, will prove key to that success. "B.J. was the right man for the job and his connection to Maine gives it some momentum," Flood says.

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