BY MORGAN LEGEL
Although a lot of services are unavailable to the residents of Guam, three new companies and/or expanded business plans are bringing more solutions to Guam.
Hershey Hudtohan, founder and digital marketing director of Switch Digital, a newly opened digital marketing agency, took her more than 10 years of digital experience and created her company to help bring services to the island that were previously outsourced.
Switch Digital’s services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, social media marketing, website design and development, and digital marketing training.
“There are a lot of benefits having these services on-island,” Hudtohan said, “But first and foremost, with us being here, the process will be much faster, especially considering all the back-and-forth with the client to get to the final product.”
She said being in Guam can be an advantage. “Who else can understand a local business better than a local?”
The company currently has no brick-and-mortar location, with no plans for one in the future.
Switch Digital’s current client list includes Harris Farm Markets, Babyganics, current client list includes Harris Farm Markets and Babyganics. Despite what some would say is the proven effectiveness of a multi-pronged approach, Hudtohan is firm, and said “2020 has forced us to switch to a new normal… This year cemented the fact that traditional marketing is no longer enough to keep a business alive.”
Two of Switch Digital’s main services, search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing, will help small and large businesses alike, according to Hudtohan. Whatever the size of the business, the website might not be doing exactly what it’s designed to do.
“Having a website is of course obvious,” Hudtohan said. “But believe it or not, the number of business websites that we audited is a good indicator that Guam is lagging behind in terms of marketing. We don’t just stop once your website is done. SEO is an ongoing process. It is proven to be lucrative because of sustained results and stability,” she said.
While businesses may have suffered from the pandemic, the downtime COVID-19 brought to the island should not be taken in vain, she said. “Small businesses should be preparing themselves to get found online so that when the world starts to open up, your business will be there in Google, ready to get found,” she said.
All in all, she said, it’s time for Guam to switch to digital and get noticed.
In other small business news, Sekiguchi Corp. recently expanded from its role as a beverage wholesaler, adding another division in November 2020, with Back to Nature Guam, a gardening and hydroponics supply retail store.
Back to Nature is different than other sellers, according to India Sekiguchi, owner. “We’re a gardening shop; anything you’re growing, we want to support you and help you with growing that item. There are other stores that are bringing in goods for cannabis growers, and are more specific for those people,” she said. “The difference is we love the cannabis growers, but we also love the orchid growers, the succulent growers, the vegetable growers, and all the growers.”
Sekiguchi said some of the most popular products the retail store sells include pots, soil, grow tents and grow lights.
Numerous plants, even ones not native to the island, are also available for purchase at Back to Nature, some in seed form and others that have already matured.
While Sekiguchi Corp. also operates The Island King Imports, the company wanted to take advantage of the downtime that the pandemic brought.
“We just have revamped ourselves to take advantage of the gardening boom that hit, ever since COVID-19,” Sekiguchi said.
“We always knew we had a good location in the heart of Tamuning,” she said. “And we had always wondered if we were to start a retail business, would people come?”
For the future, Sekiguchi hopes to expand the garden area to sell more mature plants, as well as start a program with local farmers and gardeners to resell some of their products in Back to Nature.
And in shipping news, DeWitt Guam unveiled the E-Ship program in October. The new program allows island residents to order from anywhere imaginable, even if the retailer does not ship to Guam. Through this freight-forwarding-type program, the customer can call DeWitt to get a quote, and if they accept, would get an address in Industry City, Calif. to put into the online order. From there, the retailer ships to the Industry City warehouse. DeWitt has weekly sailings leaving California and the product takes about two weeks to reach Guam. Items can either be collected at DeWitt or delivered for an extra charge.
Anyone on island is eligible to use the program, even customers on military installations.
Joyce F. Diamadi, director of sales for DeWitt, said, “I don’t think too many of our competitors are doing what we’re doing right now. With the competitors, the freight-forwarding is for all the different retail stores and businesses on the island, and we have different options,” she said. “We can handle those full-container loads for businesses as well as consolidated shipments, items customers want to order personally that don’t ship to Guam.”
In order to begin the process, “We recommend getting the dimensions and weight, and we will come up with a price from there,” Diamadi said. mbj