Tom Hamilton is owner of West Bay Media Group in Pinellas Park.
PINELLAS PARK – In 2003, Tom Hamilton saw how the Internet was changing the way business was done and was intrigued.
A longtime mental health professional, he decided to switch gears. So he earned a certificate in Web development and graphic design from PTEC.
“I wanted to develop a skillset that would be good the rest of my life,” he said. “I knew it would involve the Web.”
From there, he created West Bay Media Group.
“The core of my business is building Wordpress websites that create sales online for customers,” Hamilton said.
He took a consulting position for an Internet company based in Georgia and helped build the company to $12 million in sales. He took similar gigs for other large companies in a variety of industries – telecommunications, healthcare and logistics.
He absorbed a lot of information along the way and realized he could take this knowledge to help other small businesses.
“I’m not just a Web guy,” he said. “I’m an entrepreneur. So I understand things from their perspective. My approach is focusing on how do we get people who visit their websites to become customers.”
Last year, he decided West Bay would focus solely on small businesses.
“You have a small business owner who is good at what they do, but when it comes to the website they don’t know what to do and they’re completely lost,” he said. “So it’s a lot of fun. I’m passionate about it. I like helping people.”
A lot of these smaller companies get lost when they work with bigger Web developers, he added.
“Then they just become a number,” he said.
In October, Hamilton moved the company into the Professional Entrepreneurs of Pinellas Park business incubator after discovering it online.
He has a longstanding history with Pinellas Park, volunteering his time and talent as a musician for various Vincent House functions.
“So I knew I wanted to be [in the incubator,]” he said.
Business has grown steadily since moving in and he hopes to be big enough to leave the incubator in about a year. He’s been able to take on more of a project manager role for many of his clients and has been able to hire developers and graphic designers to build the websites and content for them.
West Bay also offers ongoing website maintenance.
“It’s an ongoing process,” he said. “The Internet’s changing on a daily basis. Algorithms and search engines are changing, plus you have nefarious players who are always trying to security hack.”
In recent months, the Pinellas Park Beacon has featured some of the small businesses in the Professional Entrepreneurs of Pinellas Park, which is located at 5663 Park Blvd. West Bay Media Group is one of these companies.