The Local Tech Heroes.
Meet three local businesses harnessing the potential of technology to keep us connected, comfortable, and humming along.
MONTANASKY: KEEPING NORTHWEST
Broadband internet is no longer a luxury, it’s essential. Access to reliable high-speed internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, participate equally in learning, and stay connected. However, access to high-speed broadband internet is still hard to come by in many of our local communities.
“We’re happy staying local and knowing who we’re serving. We can do more, faster by keeping things local and small.”
MontanaSky is on a mission to change that. This summer, for example, MontanaSky will complete a project providing fiber optic internet to residents and businesses in Hungry Horse, Coram and West Glacier.
“Until now, folks in the Canyon only had access to DSL. Access to fiber internet is going to be huge for residents, businesses and visitors,” said Ryan Bowman, CEO of MontanaSky.
For 30 years, MontanaSky has been keeping Montanans connected. From the days of dial-up, cable, and satellite internet to today’s focus on providing fiber optic internet to Montana’s rural communities, MontanaSky continues to adapt and evolve with technology.
When asked about trends in the industry, Bowman said, “Peoples’ expectations of broadband have shifted, meaning they also expect it at a lower price than ever.” He noted that it can make competing with the larger national providers an ongoing challenge.
“The big companies have certain advantages, but we’ve found that Montanans like to do business with smaller local companies,” said Bowman. “We’re happy staying local and knowing who we’re serving. We can do more, faster by keeping things local and small.”
NORTH BROTHERS BUILDERS: RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE BUILDING RESPONSIBLE HOMES
Mark Manning & Brett Morton have been friends since 7th grade and business partners since 2019, when their lifelong friendship and mutual desire to build legacy homes led to the start of North Brothers Builders.
North Brothers specializes in the construction of Passivhaus (or passive house) designs. A certified Passivhaus, as the name suggests, is able to maintain a nearly constant temperature without additional heating or cooling through an airtight design, extreme insulation, and proper ventilation.
“These homes are so well built that, during the major cold snap northwest Montana saw this winter, one of North Brothers’ clients reported not needing to turn on their heating systems.”
The construction and positioning of the home for optimal heating and cooling result in reduced energy costs and healthier, more comfortable homes to live in.
These homes are so well built that, during the major cold snap northwest Montana saw this winter, one of North Brothers’ clients reported not needing to turn on their heating systems.
Manning and Morton apply that level of detail to every job. Even homes that are not strictly Passivhaus designs benefit from their knowledge, including installing well-insulated windows, continuous insulation, and positioning the home and windows to achieve a high level of energy efficiency while balancing comfort.
“Small percentages make a big difference,” said Manning.
When asked about their vision for the future, Morton stated, “We want to grow consciously – just like we build. Our goal down the road is to take the essence of what we do in order to offer these types of homes to a broader clientele and make it more accessible.”
J2 OFFICE PRODUCTS: A WORLD-CLASS EVENT THAT GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Been to a restaurant in the Flathead Valley? Maybe you’ve bought a car or a house here? If so, you’ve probably held a document printed on a copier sold and serviced by J2 Business Products, where the Flink family and their dedicated staff have been serving Northwest Montana since 1962.
“As technology has evolved over the years, one thing has remained unchanged—J2’s commitment to service and customer care.”
J2 doesn’t just sell copiers. They see themselves as technology matchmakers, connecting customers with the best products for their individual needs. Indeed, the catchall term “copier” belies the incredible range of technology that makes these machines the heartbeat of local businesses.
“You can really run the whole business from one machine,” said business technology consultant Don Rountree, noting that the technological capabilities of today’s copiers and printers makes everything about operating the machines easier, more efficient, reliable, and intuitive.
As technology has evolved over the years, one thing has remained unchanged—J2’s commitment to service and customer care. The team that keeps J2’s products—and ultimately their clients’ businesses—running has nearly 100 years of combined experience in the field of technology repair.
The J2 mantra is pretty simple. ”If our clients succeed, we succeed,” explained service technician Jim Grose. J2’s service team not only knows the ins and outs of the machines, they also form relationships with their clients.
“My clients are like family,” said Charlie Ashley, a J2 service technician for the last 38 years. “We’ve watched each others’ families grow and truly care about each other. This job is more than simply repairing copiers.”
This commitment to service, integrity and reliability is at the core of J2’s values. “We’ve been ingrained in the community for over 60 years,” said marketing director Jennifer Flink. “It’s important to us to create an extraordinary company that benefits our employees, customers, and community.”
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