Editor's note: This is another in an occasional look at technology businesses operating in San Luis Obispo County.
Bob Dumouchel's business began with the simple dream of wanting to move his family to San Luis Obispo County.
"On a vacation (around 1994), my wife and I stopped in Pismo and in a hot tub looking out over the Pismo Pier, we decided that someone needed to live here and it might as well be us," he recalled.
A year after that revelation, Dumouchel sold his prior business — a contract programming firm called Systems & Programming Solutions — and a home in Wisconsin. The couple bought a house and opened an office in the Village of Arroyo Grande in 1996.
Nearly 20 years later, Dumouchel, who describes himself as "a marketing geek," is chief executive officer of Systems & Marketing Solutions, a digital marketing agency.
The company specializes in managing Google AdWords, the search engine's online advertising system that helps businesses market their products and services. It also does website design, social media, creative ad creation, content strategies, email and website analytics — transforming data into meaningful information — for small to medium-sized companies, he said.
Systems & Marketing Solutions manages advertising for 150 websites with 85 clients. It manages digital marketing for products and services ranging from plumbers, movers and auto body shops to lawyers and accountants.
While starting a digital marketing agency "was not the plan," Dumouchel said that he liked the "challenge of applying technology to marketing."
"We saw the role of data in marketing as the future, and over time, the Internet has caused that to happen," he said. "Today, a marketing plan without analytics is operating in the dark. We think that marketing ultimately breaks down to strategy, design and analytics. Each of these requires a very different set of skills, and we have that diversity on our team."
The company, which was built from its own cash flow and some personal investment, is growing and profitable, said Dumouchel, who declined to disclose financial information.
Employees, most from the millennial generation, foster teamwork by playing team chess. It's a way to improve communication to solve complex problems. The development of new skills is key, as well as embracing the changing nature of the business, Dumouchel said.
"Our team members work on keeping each other up to date, but we have to admit it's tough," he said.
"Last year, Google had more than 365 documented changes to the system, so think of your business systems changing at least once a day."
With a strong team on board, Dumouchel said the company is more than capable of handling the fast pace.
"Marketing is all about educating people on the value of what you do and helping them understand how it benefits them," he said. "My belief is that if you do this well, the sales will take care of themselves. I also really like the people that I work with, and as CEO, I have more than a little control over that. My goal as the CEO is to never employ anyone who is not smarter than I am; right now we have that, and it makes for a great creative environment."