Upward Brand Interactions started in Springfield with two partners but now has more than 60 employees.

Springfield-based company expanding, trying to stay step ahead

When Upward Brand Interaction started, most companies the firm worked with just wanted to know how to create a basic presence on the Web.

Now, many of the companies the Springfield-based firm works with rely on their digital presence as a core part of their business. Originally called Oxiem Interactive in Springfield, John Fimiani and Bill Sterzenbach started the company in part because they saw an opportunity to get ahead of a rapidly changing online marketing industry.

“Instead of a tech company, we wanted to be a strong marketing company in a digital world,” Fimiani said.

Upward Brand Interaction was created when Oxiem merged with Dayton-based Hafenbrack Marketing and Public Relations in 2014. Both companies retained their staffs and were fully merged within about a year.

Oxiem started with two people, but Upward now has 64 employees, including about a dozen in Springfield. It also has offices in Dayton, Cleveland and Romania, and is planning to open an office in Cincinnati next month. The company also started the Interact marketing conference about five years ago, which has grown and drew more than 300 guests last year.

As the company has grown, many of their clients have shifted and now rely more on digital marketing strategies to draw new customers, Sterzenbach said. Now, companies also frequently use analytical data to track how their products are perceived and how clients and customers use websites and other forms of media.

“It’s gone from a bit of a novelty to the core of how people are doing business,” Sterzenbach said.

One of the reasons the company has been successful is it always pushes to find ways to grow, Fimiani said. The company tries to find potential employees who share the same strategy, because the industry is constantly changing.

The firm now helps create and promote content, can develop and build websites and apps, and helps companies have a greater presence when potential clients conduct an online search.

Both of the company’s founders said they have seen their share of failure. But they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t from each expansion and have tried to avoid the same mistakes the next time around.

“Every time we put in an office, we leverage what we learned at our last office,” Sterzenbach said.

The company regularly experiments with new technology to stay ahead of the competition, and is increasingly looking at technologies like using augmented reality at trade shows, for example.

“Instead of waiting for growth to happen and flailing to keep up, we’ve been preparing for growth,” Fimiani said.

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