Duthie sells e-learning biz to May's bytes of knowledge
By Milt Capps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!" ♦