Blend Interactive adds two partners

By Jodi Schwan

Growing web design and development firm Blend Interactive has expanded its ownership with two new partners.

Jessica Hutchinson and Joshua Folkerts join founders Karla Santi, Deane Barker and Joe Kepley in the ownership group for the firm, which began in 2005.

“We’re looking at this as something to strengthen the future of Blend,” CEO Santi said. “We have key employees who are crucial, and it’s important to recognize the talent we have and the asset they are to our business, giving them growth in the future with the company.”

Jessica Hutchinson

Hutchinson is Blend’s production director and has been with the company for eight years. Santi calls her the firm’s gatekeeper.

“She essentially makes sure our projects get done on time and on budget,” Santi said.

The Clark native is a graduate of SDSU and said becoming a partner “seemed like a natural progression.”

“We believe in this company, and it’s a great company to work for, so we were honored to get the opportunity,” Hutchinson said. “The partners have your back. They stand behind you.”

Folkerts, a lead developer, has been with Blend for nine years and leads its .NET projects.

Joshua Folkerts

“He’s very committed during work and outside work. He lives and breathes this company,” Santi said.

He is also a network and server technician and an Episerver Certified Developer. The Watertown native graduated from Lake Area Technical Institute.

“About two years in, I knew I was never going to leave (Blend). You get job offers and don’t even think twice about saying no,” he said. “I enjoy getting up and coming to work. And it’s not just work. I play competitive softball, and they sponsor us. They get involved with all sorts of things in your everyday life.”

The company began after the three founders met through a common client, “and we got so much work we couldn’t keep up anymore,” Santi said.

“Obviously, our industry has changed quite a bit since the inception of the company. As we have matured, so have our projects. We’ve taken on more complicated projects and clients.”

About 70 percent of the business is from outside Sioux Falls.

Karla Santi

“We have found we work well with more complex websites – higher education, hospital systems – websites that have a lot of audiences and a lot of content and data is where we found our sweet spot,” Santi said. “Not everybody can do that.”

The company has never done outbound marketing. Santi jokes they don’t even know how. Much of the business has come through existing relationships, clients who move to new businesses and continue to work with Blend, and speaking engagements that company leaders do nationwide.

The 20-person firm is in the Boyce-Greeley Building at 11th Street and Phillips Avenue.

“We don’t compete with other businesses in town,” Santi said. “We compete for employees. Our talent pool is slim in Sioux Falls for such a specialty industry, so it’s key we’re treating employees well and giving them a path for the future.”

Blend Interactive adds two partners

Growing web design and development firm Blend Interactive has expanded its ownership with two new partners.

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