7 of 50
Billings, MT
Billings, MT
Paige Darden

MyTopo was founded as Beartooth Mapping in November 1999. That's still the legal name, but our Web site is MyTopo, and that's what people know us as. One of the original founders, who left in 2005, was from Red Lodge, so they originally set up there. It's about one hour from Billings.

Before I moved to Billings with my husband in 1998, I'd been director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and our big focus was promoting e-commerce. In 2000, I was at home with my first baby, freelancing as a consultant. I was reading the Billings Gazette when I saw an article about MyTopo. The company sells customized topographic maps. They had this great vision, so I called them up and said, "I would like to help you if I can."

As we grew, the bandwidth in Red Lodge wasn't adequate any longer. We also needed much more warehouse space for shipping out our maps every day. MyTopo moved to Billings in 2005, and I became a co-owner in 2008.

Last year, MyTopo bought a company that was based in Massachusetts. We bought their 800 numbers too, but we had trouble getting AT&T to transfer the numbers to us in Billings. It was bureaucratic and difficult. We finally just called Senator Max Baucus' office, which is right down the street from us. They know us. Their rep dealt with AT&T and resolved it for us. That's the huge benefit of small-town access: You are closer to everything and it's all so much easier. If you need to reach someone, you can.

Ninety-nine percent of our customers are outside of Montana. It's not for our customers, or the needs of our product, that we are based here -- it's definitely the lifestyle. Billings is a great town. Both my family and Kevin's family live in the downtown area; we can both walk or bike the two miles to our office. All our kids are growing up hiking or on skis. This is a great place to live. -Helaine Olen

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