H-CENTRAL COAST

May 18, 2011 1:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

Where the Jobs Are: Technology

The economy may be down but hiring is still up for several local companies. From San Luis Obispo to Carpinteria, we found a few technology companies looking to hire close to 200 people by the end of this year.

If you've ever shopped on web sites like Ducati, Kawasaki or even Sport Chalet then you are already familiar with the San Luis Obispo-based ecommerce company, Shopatron.

"Basically a web store and the associated order fulfillment technology that will do payment processing, manage returns and exchanges, handle customer service inquiries," said Ed Stevens, founder and CEO of Shopatron.

Stevens launched Shopatron in 2001. It now services more than 1,000 brands across the globe with a staff of 105 employees.

"We compete with companies in Europe, in New Jersey, in New York, so you really got to want to be in a company that's going to challenge you, going to demand a lot from you, but it's also going to provide you a lot of opportunity," said CEO and VP of Marketing Mark Grondin.

The company continues to grow. Shopatron has six positions posted on its web site but it plans to fill at least 15 more full-time spots by the end of the year, and hire 10-15 people for the holiday season. Jobs range from entry level internships to full-time engineering, design, finance and sales positions.

"A full-time job here probably starts in the low $30,000s, but then you could easily get two to three times that depending on your level of experience and the job," said Stevens.

Stevens attributes Shopatron's success to its intense focus on the customer. For that reason anyone who applies should have a passion for helping others.

"Someone who really understands that giving of yourself and delivering a world class customer experience is a worthwhile thing to do," Stevens said.

Mindbody is also expanding in San Luis Obispo. It provides web-based business management software for health and wellness companies around the world.

"We take care of everything in their business, how they schedule, how they sell their products and services, how they connect that to their web site," said CEO Rick Stollmeyer.

Mindbody has been hiring since last November and it plans to bring on at least 100 more people by the end of this year.

Positions range from entry level sales, marketing and customer service jobs, to openings in software development and quality assurance.

In Santa Barbara County, Carpinteria-based Lynda.com shows no signs of slowing down.

"We offer instructional videos that teach everything from how to use Word, to Excel, to more creative things like photography or animation or video editing," said Lynda Weinman, cofounder of Lynda.com.

Weinman is a former teacher who co-founded the company with her husband in 2002. This virtual classroom now boasts hundreds of topics, taught by hundreds of experts, all available for a small subscription fee.

"These are becoming just skills that everybody in every type of industry needs," Weinman said "So I think the thirst for this knowledge has grown in the last decade."

Lynda.com is growing too.

"We're always learning, we're always growing, we have to have an ability to kind of roll with the punches and adapt and wear lots of different hats," said Michael Ninness, vice president of Content.

The company recently hired close to 40 people and its planning to fill at least 70 more full-time positions by the end of this year. Jobs range from web design, film production and software engineers, to finance, marketing and sales. The median age is mid to late 30s, so the more experience an applicant has, the better.

"We are very selective about who we choose, we're looking for qualities like enthusiasm, being very self motivated, going to work in an environment that's changing really quickly," said Weinman.

Like Shopatron, salaries at Mindbody and Lynda.com also vary depending on the job and your level of experience. Pay starts in the $20,000-$30,000 range and goes all the way up beyond six figures.

Each company posts hiring information on its web site. You can access those Career pages by visiting the Newslinks section of ksby.com.

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