Weaving Work on the Web

By Beacon Staff

Jason Meuter has never made a cold call to bring in business. In the decade SnowDog Web has been taking its client’s visions and weaving them into code for the Web, word-of-mouth has been enough to draw customers to his door. When Meuter talks about his company, he speaks humbly of building relationships rather than his Web tools stacked up like products on a shelf.

Lassoing the secret speech of Web design, the Whitefish company sprang from a small startup into a Flathead staple that provides strategy, design, development and support. It has now sailed beyond local boundaries to rake in international awards. This year, SnowDog even garnered two awards concurrent with reaching its 10-year milestone.

“I get to work with amazing business owners who have shared their trade secrets with us,” explained Meuter. “But it’s a rollercoaster when you get into business. You just don’t know what to expect.”

In 1998, Meuter launched SnowDog as a small home business with two other partners that he since bought out. Bouncing around six Whitefish locations as it grew, the company landed in offices north of Alpine Village where its six employees stir the pots of creativity to turn ideas into tangible images on the Web.

In its infancy, 80 percent of SnowDog’s clients hailed from outside the state – starting with the Chicago Board of Realtors for whom SnowDog has designed three online re-certification schools. In recent years, the percentage has reversed. “It did a complete flip-flop without effort,” said Meuter. Now, about 60 percent of SnowDog’s clients come from within Montana’s borders, many from the Flathead. Clients range from small businesses and nonprofits to the city of Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana West Economic Development, the Lodge at Whitefish Lake and Grouse Mountain Lodge.

When the company reached its 10th anniversary this August, Meuter and his team couldn’t squeeze in time to celebrate. “We just got swamped,” he said. When he eyes the future of the growing Web, he sees that time being even more crunched and envisions taking on a partner. “The Web is just going to get stronger,” he predicted. “It’s the most cost-effective marketing tool you can have. It’s the first time in history that you can communicate with the entire world in an instant.”

In 2003, Meuter and his team won their first award for their work on the Whitefish Community Foundation Web site. Since then, the company has gone on to win a Summit Creative Award from Summit International Awards (SIA) annually. The award goes to small- and medium-sized companies with annual billings under $30 million. “They separate the Walt Disneys from us,” laughed Meuter.

Entrants from more than 25 countries and five continents compete in 21 creative categories for the communications industry awards. “I don’t want to call it an Oscar, but it’s nice to be recognized for excellence in our field,” he said.

Earlier this spring, SIA recognized the work of SnowDog with two awards for a Web site it designed for www.genesistransformation.com, a health-based, fat-loss support program out of New Mexico. SnowDog won silver for an unseen tool used to show the transformation of women and men who participate in the program and bronze for a food journaling tool. “It had no short order of math,” laughed Meuter.

The food journaling tool is the brainchild of Genesis Transformation owner Sheri Lynn. “It takes people from where they are to where they want to be,” Lynn said. “We have these denial potholes. There’s a big difference between what people think they eat and what they actually eat.” Food journaling, which accounts for everything that goes in the mouth, is a proven success in weight loss, but Lynn took it a step further enlisting the strategies of SnowDog to get her concept online.

Contrary to weight-loss programs that sell diets, Lynn provides individual education and phone support about food choices, so clients design their own diets to change their bodies. When a client records a food, such as an apple, in the food journal, the tool automatically calculates the amount of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, sodium, and fiber. It tallies up daily use of each of those nutrients and splits out percentages of the first three to match against goals. Lynn’s transformed clients are a testament to the food journal’s success.

“The coolest thing for us is to be a part of our client’s success,” said Meuter. “If our clients are successful, so are we.” That success translates into more word-of-mouth kudos for SnowDog.

“I love the new relationships and the instant gratification behind the creative aspect of what we do,” Meuter said. “But I’m very humbled to still be here.”

Check out SnowDog Web’s work at www.snowdogweb.com.