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Duthie sells e-learning biz to May's bytes of knowledge
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Julie May has acquired Bob Duthie's e-Learning portfolio, further diversifying bytes of knowledge's service offerings

Bob and Andrew Duthie, the father-son engineers whose firm pioneered e-learning in Nashville 20 years ago, have sold their business to bytes of knowledge (bok).

Bok CEO Julie May told VNC Friday that as a result of the deal, which took effect Sept. 1, bytes of knowledge should produce more than than $2.5 million in revenue during the next 12 months, employing a staff of 17.

She and her husband, Charles May, also a principal in the firm, are the sole owners of the newly enlarged business.

May, 43, said she believes the transaction, through which she acquired Duthie Learning's e-solutions and rights to Duthie's customer accounts, reinforces her firm's positioning as a "one-stop" operation.

With the addition of three former Duthie employees, bok now offers interactive e-learning, training and sales-presentation services, in addition to its ongoing information-technology; software applications development; computer networking, hosted and managed services; and, Web and Internet services.

May spoke with VNC on Friday, during an interview in which she was joined by the founder of Duthie Associates and his son, who was previously Duthie president.

The executives told VNC the two firms have served nearly 1,000 clients, altogether, including several hundred that remain prime targets for bok's services today – among them, dozens of customers the two firms have served within the past 12 months.

Over the years, bok and Duthie have placed once each among the city's fastest-growing companies, winning Music City Future50 status in the annual ranking produced by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bob Duthie has joined bytes as chief learning officer, leveraging his e-learning expertise and the personal and business network he has amassed during a career of more than 40 years.  Duthie explained with his usual dry humor that he will continue his extended annual vacations.  Nonetheless, he remains one of the most ubiquitous executives in local tech and business circles.

With the shift, two former Duthie employees have joined joined bytes' payroll: Garry Hornbuckle, formerly managing director at Duthie Learning, is now bok's director of eLearning; and Nancy Bass, formerly art director, is now lead visual artist within bok's eLearning business.  Bok staff are headquartered at 4515 Harding Pike, in West Nashville.

Andrew Duthie (left) told VNC he will help Duthie clients make their transitions to bok; then, he will go "back to his roots" in engineering and programming, working either solo or with others.

He has in recent years been particularly active with younger technologists and tech entrepreneurs, participating and volunteering in Startup Weekend, BarCamp and other events now proliferating in Nashville.  Before joining the family firm in 2000, the younger Duthie, 36, was a quality engineer for DaimlerChrysler and a sealing-products engineer for Farnam-Meillor, a supplier to Ford Motor Co. He earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1993, after graduating from Montgomery Bell Academy here.

Duthie Associates persists as a business entity, said Bob Duthie.  However, the firm's principal asset is now Great Loop Cruising Products, a line of CD-ROM and video materials spawned from a legendary love of boating, which he shares with wife Mavis.

The elder Duthie, 69, told VNC that among factors influencing his move toward bok was the fact that e-learning revenue was suffering amid the economic downturn; plus, Andrew's realization that he preferred working with technology more than running a business.

Reaching out to May was his first move, Duthie explained, not only because of his familiarity with her success with bok; but, also, because he had known her since he and her parents owned homes nextdoor one another. Duthie gave May her first computer, a Tandy TRS-80.

Prior to founding Duthie Associates in 1989, he was Nortel Networks vice president for business development.  Earlier in his career, he served with GTE Automatic Electric and Foundation Engineering. In 1962, he earned a B.S. in engineering physics at Queen's University, in Canada's Ontario province.

Prior to founding bytes of knowledge in 1995, Julie May was a senior market analyst for Nashville-based Service Merchandise. She earned her MBA at Belmont University in 1992, and her bachelor's in 1987 at the University of Alabama.

The bok-Duthie agreement was drafted by the two firms' founders and reviewed by Curtis Capling, an attorney with Harwell Howard Hynes Gabbert & Manner PC.

Asked in jest by a reporter whether the deal means that she can now afford capital letters in her firm's "bok" brand, May responded with good humor, exclaiming that in fact the deal means "I can afford NOT to have capital letters!"
 

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Tags: Andrew Duthie, Bob Duthie, bytes of knowledge, Charles May, distance learning, Duthie Associates, Duthie Learning, education, Garry Hornbuckle, information technology, interactive media, Internet, M&A, managed services, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, Nancy Bass, networks, software development, training


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