Mariner Partners expands in Saint John

This is a good story.  Mariner is adding 30 new well paid IT positions in New Brunswick.  The firm is headed up by former NBTel boss Gerry Pond and other ex-NBTelers.  This is an important story on several levels.  First, it confirms that talented people will stay in New Brunswick.  My worry was that all that NBTel expertise was going to vanish after the Aliant merger.  Many of them stayed and you can find them in the management teams of a number of successful firms.  Second, they are bringing people back to New Brunswick for the jobs.  Again, I contend that it is the quality of jobs that matters.  In my experience, New Brunswick firms can recruit nationally and even beyond if the jobs are well paying career path oriented ones.

Finally, I think this is a good example of the importance of having both large anchor firms and small start ups in a healthy industry ecosystem.  If there had not been an NBTel, there would not have been several of the smartest startup firms in New Brunswick (Genesys, Mariner, Radian6, among others).  If there had not been a Nortel in Ottawa, dozens of the brightest startup firms in that city would not have existed.  Some economic developers think they can grow a cluster of small firms into big ones by supporting the necessary infrastructure like access to VC, education, incubation, etc. 

I can’t find many examples where this approach has worked.  In the successful ICT clusters that I have reviewed, they all have a healthy mix of large firms, small firms, good university linkages and supportive industry infrastructure. 

Some of my sincere colleagues in the ICT industry in New Brunswick believe the larger firms are a negative influence, raiding staff, repatriating the best jobs back to their HQs somewhere else, pushing up cost structures, etc.  I realize there is some truth to this but I hold to the belief that in the longer term, we need that healthy mix.  A couple of years ago I looked at a couple of dozen of my favorite ICT firms.  I did a scan of the management and found that all but a small handful of the senior management had done time in a larger firm (NBTel, MT&T, IBM, Nortel, Google, etc.) before starting their entrepreneurial venture.  If we don’t have those firms here, how will we get those spinoff firms.  If there was no NBTel, there would be no Mariner, no Radian6, no Genesys).

Don’t forget to check out the video version of the podcast.  I guess we have to decide whether or not to keep doing it.  The first one got less than 200 views.  I did a little YouTube surfing on similar topic (commentaries about the economy and such) and there are some of the most inane and even strange videos that are getting 5,000 or more views.  They are well tagged but there must be something more at play.

6 thoughts on “Mariner Partners expands in Saint John

  1. Its funny how the media play these things. The Gleaner was very excited yesterday to report that a local IT firm had been purchased by RIM. This was great news apparently. While its fine for the owners, will it mean that the jobs are moved to ON? No one commented on that. If RIM has been convinced to grow this operation here, then yes its good news; if its a prelude to shutting it down here, then its bad news. Wonder if BNB has been on the phone to RIM selling NB as a place to grow?

  2. RIM very seldom ‘closes down’ offices. It is a research firm and knows the talent is best where it is, I don’t think they have EVER closed down a ‘branch’. However, its when companies hit hard times that its a different story. For ten years after confederation ‘growth’ in New Brunswick peaked with the addition of thousands of jobs and tons, literally tons of investment. THen once technology made consolodation possible came NB’s first great ‘exodus’ of both firms AND people.

    For this story there is one thing not mentioned here, which is that there is STILL a Nortel. WHich means these spinoffs would still be possible WITH an NBTel. Now thats gone, and once these guys are gone, then that’s it.

    IT though recognizes few provincial boundaries. It doesn’t care. Depending on the individual firm they are based around what the company is doing. You can have five guys doing kickass stuff in Juniper New Brunswick and as long as they can get high speed, then Google or RIM could buy them out and keep them right where they are. Tax rates simply aren’t that significant, unless you are talking about the big data banks idea.

    As for the video, 200 is actually a lot more than I would have suspected. I didn’t bother watching for the reasons mentioned-I already read the stuff. You just started and nobody knows you. On Youtube is a good idea, start putting it on business cards and have a direct link from the homepage to the video, otherwise its too hard to find. I’ve typed ‘New Brunswick’ into youtube before, figure out how to make sure your videos come up first. But 200 is actually nothing to be embarrassed about considering the nature of the message.

  3. If RIM were positioning itself to be acquired I would say be worried, but I do not think this is the case. Chalk has a subject matter expertise here in the province and that is highly regarded within RIM from what I have seen and heard. Changes might occur, but downsizing would surprise me unless the business model becomes a negative revenue generator.

  4. But will Chalk be allowed to grow? Will be be able to develop new product lines of interest outside of RIM? That’s the point; increasing the number of high-paid jobs in NB. Now that RIM is here, is BNB telling RIM it can grow here?

  5. RIM is fairly agressive on R&D, so I would assume they would encourage growth. Might actually be accelerated now that they can combine the knowledge of both RIM and Chalk. Nothing is a certainty, but I would feel better about RIM acquiring Chalk than some other companies out there.

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