A Portland technology firm that has attracted little fanfare has been quietly taking on big clients and expanding rapidly.

BlueTarp Financial, a business-to-business credit services provider, said it recently signed a “household name” client and plans to hire more than 50 new employees by the end of the year.

The company declined to name the new client, but its website includes an impressive list of clients, including national retailers Staples, Sears and Ace Hardware.

Chief Operating Officer Shawn Cunningham said BlueTarp has grown from 40 employees a decade ago to 120 today, and it plans to have 175 people on staff by the end of the year.

“We have consistently grown 20 percent or more year over year, and, with multiple new relationships coming on board, expect to grow at over 50 percent in 2018,” he said.

The company creates customized line-of-credit programs that retailers and wholesalers can offer to their commercial customers. BlueTarp handles every aspect of the programs, including credit checks, accounting, billing, customer service and collections.

The company was founded in 1998 to provide customer credit programs for small companies in the building supply industry, but it has since diversified and taken on larger businesses as customers. Cunningham said the key to BlueTarp’s success is its proprietary technology solutions, which allow businesses and their customers greater flexibility.

For example, BlueTarp’s technology can be integrated into clients’ operations regardless of the software and hardware environment, clients can offer different payment terms to different customers, and customers can use online tools to manage their accounts or pay by check if they prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. Each program is branded with the client’s name as if it were an in-house service.

“We have the means to customize that program to meet the individual needs of the customer,” Cunningham said.

A crucial part of the BlueTarp customer benefit is that it serves as the bank for each of its clients. When the customer of a BlueTarp client purchases something from the client on credit, BlueTarp pays the money to the client, and the client’s customer then repays the debt to BlueTarp. For example, a design company that uses Staples could place an order for new PCs. BlueTarp makes the payment to Staples to purchase the PCs, then the design company repays BlueTarp.

Accordingly, BlueTarp also assumes all of the financial risk. If a BlueTarp client’s customer fails to repay a debt, BlueTarp takes the loss.

In the company’s downtown Portland office, BlueTarp has a dealer services team that creates and implements the credit programs, a credit team staffed by payment processors and analysts, a customer service team that handles calls from clients and their customers, and a collections team that deals with delinquent payments.

But the largest group is the technology team, which develops and manages all of the applications used in BlueTarp’s business model. Cunningham said it has been particularly challenging to recruit qualified candidates for the technology team in the Portland area, but that BlueTarp is currently seeking candidates for nearly every job description.

“We’re staffing up definitively and pretty heavily in all of those groups,” he said.

The Portland area is notable for its relatively high concentration of payment-processing businesses. One of the area’s largest employers is Wex Inc., a publicly traded company based in South Portland that handles fuel payments for clients’ vehicle fleets, as well as customer payments in the health care and travel industries.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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Twitter: @jcraiganderson