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Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Jeff Elgie and JR Pierman

“It always surprises me how much business and opportunity there is all over the region.”

Lucidia Ltd. has been one of the cornerstones of Sault Ste. Marie’s rapidly maturing and sophisticated IT sector.

Though Jeff Elgie is only 33 years old, he has been a trailblazer in leading a wave of local pioneering entrepreneurs with big ambitions. For eight years, he has built the innovative 21-employee company into Northern Ontario’s largest marketing communications firm with a stable of 60 international, national and regional clients.

Bolstered by a strong and creative team, Elgie and his secretary-treasurer, JR Pierman, 34, have grown Lucidia’s revenues on average by more than 50 per cent annually since the company’s inception in 2001.

When Elgie started Lucidia, he sought to create the hum and buzz of a big-city marketing agency in Northern Ontario. The Lucidia name was dreamed up by the creative team to mean ‘lucid ideas.’

The company has evolved from being simple website builders into a full service firm with many specialties in print, advertising, website and media planning.

Elgie got his feet wet in the IT field with a start-up company, Next Generation Consulting, a network administration and hardware support firm. Not satisfied to be just a web hoster and systems administrator, the company opted to break out into all forms of multimedia. Back then the website development was in its infancy, especially in the North. When a local web development firm closed shop, Lucidia acquired their interactive mapping software and hired some of the talent behind it.

“That gave us a good start and away we went,” said Elgie.

Though they started as website builders, their clients wanted more creative and graphic design, photography, copywriting, more interactive websites, brochures, product packaging and eventually entire media strategies planned out.

Their banker, Community First Credit Union, was one of the first clients they worked with from the ground up, designing their website, logo, ads, billboards and an entirely new branding campaign.

“One day we woke up and decided we weren’t a web development shop anymore, we’re really a marketing communication agency,” said Elgie.

For their ongoing clients, they have designed, then revamped websites and delved into entire media marketing campaigns for a variety of tourism, financial institutions, government agencies, regional economic development corporations, public health authorities and First Nations leaders. Some of their international and national clients include Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association, the American Federation of Musicians, Ontario Lottery and Gaming and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership.

Though a significant chunk of their business is in southern Ontario and the United States, their roots are in working with small and medium-sized companies and organizations.

"The Sault and Northern Ontario has been a very good place to do business,” said Elgie.

In the early days, Elgie wondered if local opportunities ever dried up, would he have to move the company out of town.

“It always surprises me how much business and opportunity there is all over the region.”

Elgie and Pierman take pride in having a yin-yang of creative and tech-oriented staff who are dedicated, passionate and frequently deliver stunning visuals with results-driven business solutions.

“The reason we’ve been successful is being able to bring those two together,” said Elgie.

Their innovative thinking has won them a trophy-case of national and international web, creative and marketing awards. The company has also been a drawing card for young professionals. In its own small way, Lucidia has also been successful in stemming the exodus of talented local designers and programmers from leaving town and even managed to lure a former Sault residents to come home.

Pierman, a certified management accountant with an extensive financial and management resume, was one of those ex-pats to return from southern Ontario.

“I’ve never been at a place where people have as much fun in a day but really work as hard as well,” said Pierman.

With the average age at Lucidia in the early 30s, having fun and working hard for the client are important traits for employees to have. The general attitude and mentality of everyone is very similar, said Elgie.

Despite the challenges of finding talented staff, Lucidia is attracting larger clients and plans to take “aggressive steps, but in a smart way in competing at a national level.”

“We don’t have those stories of winning or losing a $5 million client,” said Pierman.

“The level of skill we tend to deliver and the experience we have seem to be opening more doors. We’re getting more clients with more diverse needs,” said Elgie.