News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Longtime friends launch IT business

As seniors in high school back in 2005-06, Harrison Womack and Chadbourne Lovegren both served as student interns for the now-well-known IEE (Integrated Environmental Expedition) program at Sisters High School. Working together to lead students, as well as adults, on a trip into the Three Sisters Wilderness and later on a rafting excursion on the Deschutes River, along with the daily work in the class, deepened their friendship and gave them a foundation of confidence that they say helped them arrive back in Sisters where they began a business as partners in an Information Technology (IT) company called New Fathom IT.

Though the pair kept in contact since their high school days, both had ventured away from Central Oregon for work. Womack says that he had fostered the idea of joining forces with Lovegren in one way or another for quite some time, coming up with one business idea or another.

“Every now and then I would have an idea and get a hold of Chadbourne,” said Womack.

His persistence paid off just over a year ago when Lovegren agreed to return to the Sisters area and give New Fathom a try.

Womack started working for Sisters Coffee Company right out of high school in 2006 and completed his college education during the next four years at COCC and an online college.

His time at Sisters Coffee gave him a view of business that inspired him.

“That’s where I really got into the idea that business can have a positive impact on people,” he said.

“During this time period I read a book called ‘Good to Great’ which is a fantastic business book,” he said. “One of the ideas in the book is that it matters more who you go into business with than what you go into business for. When I read that I realized that I needed to go into business with Chadbourne. I felt that we had very different skills, but would be very complementary to one another.”

According to Womack, it took about 10 years for this idea to come to fruition, which included five years away from Sisters living in the Phoenix, Arizona, region and three years back in Oregon working for an IT company in Bend. His job included determining what the company’s technology security posture was and then providing recommendations for what they needed.

He noticed that the company had plenty of business and was actually turning away jobs from small businesses. He believed there was enough need in the niche that a company like New Fathom could be viable.

“So, it was time to convince Chadbourne once and for all to join me back in Central Oregon,” he said.

Lovegren’s educational journey turned out to be quite diverse, including an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in education.

Between the degrees, inspired by an art class he took at the college, he worked as a potter, selling his own ceramic work and volunteering in the art lab on the Newberg campus.

After determining that he was making “just about $2.50 an hour” as an artist he decided to return to school.

He completed a Masters of Arts in teaching for advanced math and physics and ultimately went to work for ENERGYneering Solutions, Inc. here in Sisters, where he stayed for just under five years before taking the job in the Bay Area for Retech Systems based near Santa Rosa, California.

New Fathom’s focus is on businesses with around 12 or fewer employees. They consider their business to be a full-service cyber security and IT support team.

“Every company has a database of some sort, along with their own network, and if that data (information) is unsecure the business itself is at great risk,” said Womack. “Companies basically are their data.”

Businesses and municipalities are becoming targets for cyber threats, and with his training in this area, Womack can help businesses protect themselves.

The company opened for business in April 2019, and as they approach their first anniversary both men agree to the saying, “So far, so good.”

New Fathom serves the Central Oregon region, and the company is picking up clients in Sisters. Local businesses and organizations who have hired New Fathom include Momentum Promo and Sisters Folk Festival.

“Our goal is to provide quality service to the people of Sisters and the surrounding area,” said Womack.

Womack circled back to his time at Sisters High School. “I appreciate the community I got to grow up in,” he said. He recognizes what he and Lovegren learned from their teachers in IEE at Sisters High School — Samra Spear, Glen Herron and Rand Runco — as being instrumental in giving them the confidence to “do hard things and serve others.”

Lovegren remembers Runco pushing the interns to formulate a major goal, along with an action plan by which to accomplish the goal. “That has always stuck with me,” he said.

Womack also credited Bob Macauley, his football coach at Sisters High, with instilling in him the idea that “the next play is the most important one” which truly helps him keep his forward thinking.

Womack and his wife, Erica, are living in Sisters and have three sons ages 8, 5, and 3. Lovegren is single and residing in Bend.


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