A year ago, Jonty Ward, Chief Commercial Officer of Reach Technology Group, couldn’t pinpoint Greater Philadelphia on a map – not that he should have been expected to. Ward grew up in Sheffield, England, where his growing software solutions company is based.

Now, Ward has been to a Philadelphia Eagles game – “we won” – wears a Philadelphia 76ers shirt to work, and speaks with local pride when it comes to touting the region’s economic and community benefits. He appreciates Greater Philadelphia’s proximity to New York, New Jersey, and Delaware and its wealth of pharmaceutical companies, other blue-chip brands, and networks of prospective customers.

Most of all, he likes the people and their direct, no-nonsense approach to getting the job done. “In Philadelphia, it’s almost like talking to a British person with an American accent,” he said. 

Plus, there’s the grass.

“The only places in America I had ever visited were Disney World and Las Vegas,” he said. “But when I got to Philadelphia, I got on the train from the airport to the city, and from the train, the grass looked like English grass – and I didn’t feel like I was away. It felt like it was normal.”

Normalcy is important for Ward, even as he describes himself and Reach Technology as “disruptive forces.” The privately held company is now setting up its first U.S. office in Greater Philadelphia with the help of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Commerce Department, and the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development.

“I’ve met people in Philadelphia who have been incredibly welcoming and helpful,” Ward said. “They’ve offered support and not just at face value. They’ve followed up and have made it clear that they’re willing to be part of our journey.”

“We’re not a conglomerate with thousands of people about to go into America. But what I’ve found in Philadelphia is an attitude of ‘let’s go do this. Let’s go make this happen.’”

James Medaglio, Director, Business Attraction and Expansion at the Chamber, said Reach Technology’s experience is typical.

“Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or an emerging tech business like Reach Technology, executives soon realize how easy it is to connect in Greater Philadelphia and how unselfish business professionals here are with their time and expertise,” Medaglio said. “We take pride in our community and do everything we can to help new companies make the connections they need to thrive.”

‘A love of music, tech, and gadgets’

Reach Technology is a relatively young company – founded 11 years ago – with an impressive portfolio of clients that includes international brands, such as Nestle, Zara, Marks & Spencer, IHG, and XPO Logistics.  One of the key problems that Reach Technology aims to solve is the need for companies to have effective training and compliance tools.

Reach Technology’s product, for example, can track the training and performance of individuals in far-flung offices, factories, and warehouses and then feed that data to the parent company to understand who is compliant. Previously, companies typically needed to track compliance on paper.

Reach Technology’s top three top executives – Ward, Tom King, and Andrew Claypole – all grew up in the same working-class Sheffield neighborhood. 

“We shared a love of music, tech, and gadgets, and here we are 20-something years later,” Ward said. 

Companies the size of Reach Technology – with 28 employees – don’t naturally decide to expand internationally. But Ward said that some of the company’s top customers have operations in the U.S.

“They’ve seen the product working in the U.K., and quite simply, they want to trade in dollars,” he said.

As Ward pondered the expansion, he met with a U.K. Department for Business and Trade representative, who put him in touch with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

‘They were quite real about it.’

One of the assets that set Greater Philadelphia apart was the lack of high-pressure recruiting tactics, he shared. Instead, he said, the Chamber and others listened to his needs and offered practical solutions and the right contacts.

“I think if they had been overly committed to being nice and false, that would have put me on my back foot,” he said. “But actually, they were quite real about everything, and that’s probably the best value you can add – just tell me how it is; tell me what I’m about to walk into, and I can navigate that.” 

“And that’s exactly what they did. They just helped me understand what I would need to do.”

On Ward’s first visit to Philadelphia, the Chamber scheduled meetings with tax and immigration attorneys, real estate companies, and the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce. The support even extended to helping Reach Technology set up a local P.O. Box.

That September visit also coincided with the Eagles’ 2023 home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. “As someone who has spent many a day at English football games, the spectacle of the NFL experience was something new – and fun,” he said.

“Tailgating was something that was kind of like a bucket list moment,” he said. “I got tickets at the 11th hour, so our seats were not great, but the atmosphere was electric.”

Home of soccer

Now, Ward and Reach Technology are working out the final details to begin business operations in Greater Philadelphia. The company will start small, but Ward expects it will grow exponentially.

“I genuinely believe that we’re looking at a nine- to 10-figure deal with this over the next five years or so,” he said.

He’s also looking ahead to 2026 when the FIFA World Cup will arrive in Greater Philadelphia. Sheffield lays claim to being the home of the world’s first football club. Ward would like to find a way to link the two cities through their connection to soccer.

“That was one of the key things that came out of my first visit,” he said. “If you want to succeed in Philadelphia, it’s a very community-driven place. You’ve got to do stuff for the people, for the city. So, this is one of the ideas. How can we strengthen Philadelphia’s position around the World Cup and soccer in general?”

For more information about how the region and how the Chamber can support your company’s location and expansion efforts, visit Select Greater Philadelphia. For a Guide to Eagles Tailgating, see this link. To learn more about Philadelphia and FIFA World Cup 26™, see this link.