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Maitland online "chat" company plans expansion into new sectors - and space

A 'chatroom' at ActiveEngage
A 'chatroom' at ActiveEngage

ActiveEngage of Maitland, a company that provides real-time customer service using "chat,"  is taking its already thriving business to the next level.

Partners Todd Smith and Ted Rubin are talking about branching out from the automotive dealership clients they've specialized in and taking chat into areas like like law, real estate and colleges. They are also looking to expand their square footage.

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"We're excited about the volume of opportunities that are available for chat. There multiple opportunities and we are positioned for them," said Rubin.

Chat is popular because it allows prospective buyers to go to vendors' websites and ask questions about products and receive real-time answers.

"People like the idea of being able to engage real time with a knowledgeable person," Rubin said.

In preparation of their expansion into other business fields, and to accommodate new business that has come in, the partners are looking at more space.

The company first took office space in 2008, with 3,800 square feet on the second floor of 2701 Maitland Center Parkway. It has now taken over that entire floor, as well as the third and is now eying the first.

ActiveEngage just got the chat contracts with AutoNation and J.D. Byrider, adding 460 dealerships and a resultant 65 employees, with 90 more coming on before year-end. That will bring the company's employee roster up to 230, of which 180 will be "chatters."

Reflecting the success, revenue will likely hit $10.5 million this year from $9.1 million last year.

Smith and Rubin got into the auto end of the business because they had both held numerous positions at auto dealerships. They also both have an affinity for software.

All employees who engage in chat take courses before they go online and have the capabilities of doing research if they don't know the answer. Staff fields about 7,000 chats a day, often holding multiple conversations at the same time.

The chat rooms at ActiveEngage are filled with employees in cubicles but are very quiet because the "chatting" is done over the Internet.

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