JAMF Software Exec Talks Apple’s Evolution, Investing With Bon Iver

8/6/14Follow @XconomyWI

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that a software company can thrive outside of the typical tech hubs.

When the JAMF team was still small, locals were skeptical it could find enough technical talent in Eau Claire.

“There were people that we met that said, ‘Why would you try to open an office here? You probably found the only four people that could do the job there,’” Halmstad recalls.

JAMF has proven cynics wrong by hiring locals that fit the company’s culture and teaching them how to handle tech support, quality assurance, and other roles. “We started having these great wins with non-technical people inside the city of Eau Claire,” Halmstad says. The company has also found success with hiring interns from local universities and technical colleges, he adds.

Now, Halmstad wants to play a part in shaping the future of the city that raised him.

In a month, JAMF will relocate its Eau Claire staff from a 16,000-square-foot space in a remodeled JCPenney store to a brand new 70,000-square-foot building downtown, Halmstad says.

JAMF is also contributing $500,000 to the Confluence Project, a nearby public-private development that will feature a performing arts center, retail outlets, and university housing.

“We had said internally that we want to be part of the revitalization of downtown,” Halmstad says of JAMF staff.

Halmstad is also personally investing in two Eau Claire hotel renovation projects. The investors in one of the hotels, the Green Tree Inn & Suites, include Justin Vernon, best-known as the singer-songwriter behind Grammy-winning indie folk act Bon Iver.

Vernon and Halmstad are both Eau Claire natives who ran in the same local music circles, but never played in a band together. (However, the last album Halmstad made was recorded a decade ago in the basement of Vernon’s mom’s house, Halmstad says. He played piano in the now-defunct band, The Revelations.)

Halmstad, who has known Vernon since 2000, says it has been fun to collaborate with him on helping to invigorate the city. Halmstad sees the involvement of a world-renowned musician like Vernon as validation that Eau Claire is a viable investment.

“We’re both thankful for the opportunities we’ve had in Eau Claire,” Halmstad says. “We see this great city we grew up in that we love. But we see a lot of things that are missing and a lot of things that can be better.”

Jeff Engel is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @XconomyWI

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