When Spokane-based GoToTags was looking for a headquarters for its Canadian operations, it didn’t have to look any farther than up the highway.
The software and hardware company says it plans to set up shop in Rossland this winter.
“We had started Canadian expansion plans about two to three years ago, and at the time I had a place in Whistler that we used,” says Shelly Hallman, the chief business officer for GoToTags.
When the company recently moved out of Seattle to Spokane, it made sense to change the location for its Canadian headquarters as well.
“We already have Canadian customers that have been asking us for a long time when we would do this,” she adds. “And we’ve always had this degree of remote management where we can be in and out and have the main office in a city that makes sense in the U.S.”
GoToTags is a small company — around a dozen people if you count the investors — but it’s one of the larger global players in the field of the “internet of things.”
The company’s website is filled with the acronyms of the industry, like NFC, BLE and QR. It may seem esoteric, but if you’ve ever used your debit or credit card to tap for a purchase, bumped your phone with a friend to share a file, or been stopped at the doors of Walmart because an unscanned tag has set off the security detectors, you’ve interacted with the kind of software and hardware GoToTags sells.
With more devices getting connected, and more stores adopting sophisticated tracking and selling systems, GoToTags is well-positioned to grow. And in Canada, that’s going to happen from Rossland.
“We saw that there’s a pretty good value for Canadians to having things shipped from inside the country,” says Hallman. “And it seemed easy enough for us, as we had already spent some of our time in Canada.”
The company has business in Quebec, Ontario and B.C., says Hallman, mainly working with security firms, like the one at Vancouver’s airport.
The company figures that from Rossland it can set up a shop for taking in orders, packaging products, and shipping them to Canadian customers. There’s no retail store — it’s an online-only company.
“We had to learn how PST, GST and everything works,” she says. “It’s more of a learning process than we thought it would be initially. And getting work permits— we’ve been working on that for six months.”
While the company plans to open in Rossland this winter, Hallman couldn’t give a firm date on when the ribbon would be cut. She says GoToTags needs to set up a Canadian version of its website first and get its paperwork in order.
“Initially it’s going to be pretty small to start and will expand from there,” Hallman says. “We are testing the waters really for our production, for shipping from there. We may not offer all the products we offer in the States.
“Under the manager, there will be handful of employees that will be handling incoming customer inquiries, packing, shipping and processing orders.”
The attraction of Rossland isn’t just its proximity to the head office, avoiding import duties and being able to provide easier shipping to customers.
“We like to stay in Rossland, we are skiers and mountain bikers,” says Hallman, who’ll be making the move herself to Canada.
GoToTag’s move is an example of a long-promised trend enabled by the internet, she says.
“I think it’s great also that it’s something we’ve been able to do, to be an advocate for making it possible for more people to not have to live in the big city and still have an interesting job and still bring assets to a smaller community.
“I would never want for a town like Rossland to become a town like Whistler, but I think it is exciting, and interesting for people to be able to, because of the internet, have different types of jobs, living in areas where you can enjoy your life more, where you don’t have to put up with the hustle and bustle of a larger community.”