Community Impact: Quantum Technologies’ Year in Review

A decade ago, Quantum Technologies emerged as a humble tech shop in the heart of Sturgeon Bay. Now, after 13 years, it thrives across three locations with a team of 35 employees. Reflecting on the past year, Quantum Technologies Vice President Erin Helgensen takes pride in the company’s achievements. “Our staff is our family, and together we’re building something truly incredible–it surpasses our wildest expectations.” From their innovative partnership on Washington Island, deep involvement in the community, to their expansion into Algoma, these milestones reflect Quantum’s dedication to community service.

Beyond the Brussels Hill

Marking its one year anniversary in October, Quantum’s Algoma storefront opened in the former Harmon Studios building on Steele Street. “There is nothing we do in Sturgeon Bay that isn’t offered in Algoma,” says Helgensen. Since 2021, Quantum Technologies has been installing Starlink for those living in remote, isolated areas. Offering such state-of-the-art, region specific services to Northeast Wisconsin has been a game changer; and with the new storefront, customers have more opportunities to meet with technicians and get those face-to-face questions answered. She notes they see a steady stream of folks who appreciate the accessible location. “It’s a nice halfway point for our customers coming from Kewaunee, Luxemburg and even Green Bay.”

Helgeson views the Kewaunee County location as a testament to the company’s dedication to community growth. The building itself has two storefronts and supports another business, contributing to the revitalization of the historic downtown district. The upstairs apartment is designated employee housing with an additional unit undergoing renovation in the spring.

Having staff living in Algoma reinforces the connection between employees and the local community. “Seeing those familiar faces around town,” Helgeson mentions, “really builds that bond.” The close proximity also nurtures familiarity and trust among team members.

Attainable, year-round housing is a critical factor for any employer in the region and Quantum’s ability to offer accommodation in Algoma, alongside their Washington Island location, has played a pivotal role in facilitating their expansion throughout the peninsula.

Bridging the Connectivity Gap on Washington Island

“They were so accustomed to living without the internet; it was their way of life,” says Helgensen of Washington Island residents. Now two years into a “Fiber to Home ” project, the community is transitioning from a shared wireless broadband connection to each household and business having individual access by 2027. “Residents and visitors will enjoy the most advanced, high-speed internet in the county, far ahead of everyone else,” emphasizes Helgesen.

The community’s initial hope was to sustain a year-round restaurant and enable essential services like telehealth, especially vital during the pandemic. “They are small, but their needs were the greatest,” comments Helgesen, who makes weekly visits to Quantum’s island location and plans to offer forums on internet security this spring.

She notes the ability for children to engage in remote learning profoundly impacts education, granting them access to the world through the internet—it is truly impossible to quantify the benefits of employing a basic utility like the internet. “It’s been rewarding to help customers do things some may take for granted, like streaming content or using a digital thermostat.”

So far, the project has empowered close to 300 customers with fiber internet, including Quantum’s full-time island-based employee who relocated when the initiative began, signifying a remarkable transformation for the island’s connectivity.

Super Active Community Engagement

Quantum Technologies is proud to engage in meaningful philanthropy, prioritizing support that extends beyond their day-to-day business operations. Helgensen says there are numerous non-profits and causes vying for donations each year and 2023 was no exception. “We get request letters all the time and we rotate who we sponsor and try to spread the money around.”

This year, contributions were as far reaching as their locations: In Algoma, Quantum was title sponsor for Soar on the Shore, Shanty Days and Music in the Park. In Sturgeon Bay, they backed a variety of Destination Sturgeon Bay causes, along with sponsoring the Door County Fair. Their support in Washington Island included contributions to Death’s Door BBQ and sponsoring flowers for a Lions Club fundraiser.

For Helgeson and her husband, Nathan Drager, President of Quantum Technologies, it’s about connecting with people, a joy they embrace by actively engaging in local events like the “Unwrapping Sturgeon Bay” Christmas parade. Beyond Erin and Nathan’s involvement, this year team members participated in events supporting St. John Bosco and the Door County Childcare Center, taking part in their charitable golf outings. Quantum’s commitment to these local causes contributes to the growth and success of non-profit organizations and fundraising throughout the peninsula.

Helgensen says they are always looking for ways to give back, and sometimes it’s as casual as treating the construction crew to lunch at Habitat for Humanity—in which case they prioritize patronizing other local businesses. “What better way for small businesses to grow than a bunch of small businesses supporting each other?” she asks.

Equity & Education

Erin and Nathan don’t just sign checks—they actively engage in the community. Their dedication takes various forms, including teaching classes at NWTC, active board participation, and collaborations with non-profits such as United Way to get refurbished computers to folks who need them most.

Understanding the pivotal role of businesses in community progress, Erin serves on the  Destination Sturgeon Bay board and, from 2024, will join Door County Medical Center’s board. “We’re raising our family here, and fostering a culture of support and advancement is crucial.”

At the heart of Quantum Technologies is a mission to bridge the digital divide in their community. Erin emphasizes, “We take our classes everywhere.” For DEI week, they held four sessions at the Door County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), which were open to all—they also teach through Learning and Retirement. 2023 marked Erin’s 5th year teaching classes at NWTC in Sister Bay–and Nathan has been teaching classes for nearly as long as he’s been fixing computers. Additionally, their outreach spans school districts, forging partnerships and support, particularly at Southern Door, where their children are students.

They also visit other businesses to discuss emerging tech issues and provide security training to safeguard customers and their clients. “It’s all about educating people.” Quantum Technologies’ journey embodies growth, innovation, and a profound commitment to community betterment—a testament to their ongoing dedication. As they look ahead to the coming year, there’s palpable excitement for the continued impact they aim to make, fostering growth, innovation, and a deeper connection within the communities they serve.