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10 years for Kellett Communications

Lauren McKeon
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Reaching a 10-year anniversary in the North is a little bit like turning one, said Bill Kellett, owner of Yellowknife communications and advertising firm Kellett Communications.

"In terms of being a Northerner, people measure their longevity here in decades, so in that sense we've turned one," he laughed.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brothers Jim and Bill Kellett celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kellett Communications in December, 2008. The company's clients include such companies as NorthwesTel and Aurora College. - photo courtesy of Bill Kellett

Even so, the 10-year mark was a significant milestone.

"It's important letting people know we have been around for that long and we're here to stay," said the 31-year-old, who originally hails from Ottawa.

In 2005, Bill officially took over the company from his brother, Jim, who had moved to Yellowknife from Toronto for another job and shortly afterwards founded the communications firm, running it out of a bedroom in his apartment.

"Clients wanted an alternative to the status quo," said Jim, whose communications firm was one of three in Yellowknife and the newest one on the block.

"Times were tight for the first few years, but the encouraging response from various clients was fantastic."

The company's first big client was Aurora College, and over the years it has worked on marketing projects for many big Northern names such as NorthwesTel, the NWT Power Corp, NWT Tourism and Great Slave Helicopters.

During Jim's watch, the company outgrew two apartment-based offices and hit $1.3 million in billings, fluctuating as larger accounts came and went.

"Watching the company hit 10 years is fantastic," said Jim, who took time off for the anniversary from his new job as a stockbroker in Montreal.

"It's a very proud moment for me to see my little brother continue the story as successfully as he is," he added.

The firm now has clients spanning three territories, including the communities, and is 100 per cent committed to the North, said Bill.

Both brothers agreed the North presents a unique marketing environment, but added the challenge is all part of what makes working here so great.

"The market will give you all the rope you need to hang yourself, but it will also give you the opportunity to succeed," said Jim.

"We don't have to be focused on strictly health care, or strictly social marketing. Instead of being masters in a specific area we can be experts in Northern audiences," added Bill.

This means being able to build the key relationships that differentiates Kellett from a marketing firm down south - relationships that push the Northern company ahead in the long-term.

"One of the opportunities in the North is to build really close relationships, and those relationships are what allow you to weather the ups and downs of the economy," said Bill.

To do that, Kellett ensures it has people on the ground in the communities, whether it be a partnership with the local band office or a branch office of a federal or community government.

"If Yellowknife is a close-knit group, any community outside of Yellowknife or Iqaluit is going to be a closer-knit community. You can't really be successful without having an on-the-ground partner," said Bill.

The North's move from "glorified dial-up" to high-speed Internet also helps spread the word, he added.

So what's in store for Kellet's next decade?

"As far as being ready for the next 10 years, it's having a company that can be responsive to change and be ready for things as they come along," said Bill.