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News | 07/12/2001 4:00 am EDT

Filament Communications puts nearly all staff on contract
One of Ottawa’s highest-profile web design and marketing shops, Filament Communications Inc, has taken the drastic step of putting nearly all of its salaried workforce on contract. Company officials cite the need to control costs as motivation for the move, which comes on the heels of months of top-level executive churn and a sagging market for digital services across the board in the nation’s capital.
About a dozen staff have been put on contract, leaving only six people as full-time employees: CEO Ryan Baressi and president Kim Dixon, founder Alfredo Coppola, producer Sarah Jarett, and an office manager and a receptionist. In published reports, president Dixon has said that the move was necessary to remove unnecessary overhead when work isn’t available.
The step is symptomatic of a sharp downturn in Ottawa’s digital media/marketing community. Insiders say most of the big name firms in the sector have laid off staff to the point where many are now operating on a skeleton roster. One observer estimates business is down by as much as 50 to 75 per cent.

At Filament, the move to put its employees on contract comes just one month after the company hired a new president, former Corel Corp and Hill and Knowlton executive Kim Dixon (CNM, May 3/01). At the time, founder Coppola told CNM that, "a lot of people have left, but a lot of people have come. It’s all part of a company that’s growing very well. We’ve added some people on the research side, on the business development side, and, overall, we’ve expanded our creative abilities."

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