After experimenting with live strippers, the partners noticed that many webmasters were starting their own age verification services (AVS), they decided to create one of their own. They called it AgeCheck.com and it soon became the model for AVS.
This was about the time when David Dginger's younger brother Gary came aboard.
"I was the first Tri-Tech employee back in 1995," Gary Dginger said. "I was just working in an auto parts store when my brother hired me. I was about 22, and I started out as a customer service rep."
It didn't take Gary Dginger long to see the potential of Tri-Tech, and he made the bold suggestion that his big brother and partner move the operation out of the house and into a proper business office. In 1996, they took little brother's advice and rented a 600 square-foot office in Glendale, Calif., which accommodated the partners and their lone employee, Gary Dginger.
Today, Tri-Tech employs more than 50 in-house employees in a 25,000-squarefoot office. The staff includes accountants, legal counsel, customer service representatives, webmaster support people, advertising and promotions people, and oh yeah, a new COO: Gary Dginger.
"Besides AVS, which is Cyberage.com now, we run UGAS.com [United Gay Adult Sites], CyberSexNetwork.com and a bunch of affiliate programs called NastyCash.com," Gary Dginger said. "We have our own YouTube-style video upload site, called Blows.com. Aside from videos, you can also upload photos and adult content, and we verify that people must be over 18 to access that."
Justifiably proud of the company's growth and longevity, Dginger gives most of the credit to the Tri- Tech CEO, Jack G.
"He's amazing at what he does," Dginger said. "Anybody can buy a gas station and just run it. If Jack bought a gas station, he'd sell gas, but he'd also sell hot dogs and hamburgers, offer free delivery and give out bonuses for the amount of gas purchased. That's the type of perfectionist Jack is. He offers affiliates bonuses on how many views their websites receive. He gives the affiliates so much that Cyberage is the AVS of choice."
Among the extras that Tri-Tech's Cyberage offers affiliates is the advertising strategy, which includes a mainstream TV infomercial and commercial time on the "Howard Stern" radio show.
"We were the first ones to do that," Dginger said. "But mostly, it's going the extra bit for our affiliates; not just paying out bonuses, but by advertising our website, which leads to more traffic to their websites. We even offered something called NetBiz Kit. It was a little package that taught people how to start up their own adult website."
The Tri-Tech advertising strategies have developed a reputation for originality and fun. For instance, in 2000, the company purchased an 18-wheel truck and parked it on the showroom floor at the Internext convention in Las Vegas. An artist was hired to paint half naked girls on the sides of the truck, along with the Cyberage logo. Not only did the display create a stir at the convention, but Dginger claims that the art on the truck caused a couple of accidents among gawking motorists en route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
"From 2000 to 2002, we really went all out at the shows," Dginger said. "We wanted to present ourselves as one of the bigger companies in the business. It went very well for us. Now we're going to make our presence felt again at the shows, promoting our GayLounge.com and NastyCash.com affiliate programs.
"Our focus is to concentrate on the members we already have. Over the past couple of years the adult market really has been saturated, and our sales are not as strong as they were early in this decade. So we want to concentrate on keeping the members we already have and make sure any new members are completely satisfied. We want to keep them for the long term, not just one or two months. By offering models, greeting cards, a joke of the day and various other things, we think it's going to keep them around for a long time."
Dginger claims that Tri-Tech's Adult Entertainment Network system (AEN) has member customers who have been aboard for eight years. He credits the firm's customer service department, which solves all billing problems while keeping its chargeback ratio below one percent every year for the past 12 years.
"That is very unusual," he said. "Plus we update our member's area daily. We spend thousands a month just on content, to keep our members area updated. Besides that, we have more than 300,000 websites that our members can access, which is something our customers are very happy with.
"We also send our customers a newsletter every week, letting them know what's been updated and what's new. For some of our customers who don't have a credit card, we offer them a chance to sign up now and pay later through our IDV (I.D. verification) system. If customers prove that they are who they say they are, we give them access to our website and sign them up as a member, and we won't bill them until the next month. And we have our own credit card, which allows people to buy for credit. It's called the CyberCredit.com. And once they get that credit, they can purchase memberships to various adult websites."
One of the chief reasons why Tri-Tech has lasted this long, paying out millions of dollars each year to affiliates, is that its directors have stayed the course, remaining true to their original goals. Even though one of the original three founding members was bought out recently by David Dginger and Jack G., and even though they took a chance by changing the familiar AgeCheck brand name to Cyberage several years ago, the company has remained a powerful player online.
"When we started out, we tried to cater to the newbies, the people who had no idea what they were doing," Gary Dginger said. "People would call up and say that they were new in the business, but wanted to start an adult website. Tri-Tech was one of the first companies to offer free hosting. We gave people free hosting as long as they used one of our services or affiliate sites. People started off making just $5 a week back in 1998. Many of those people are still with us, either with our affiliate program or with our AEN. After 12 years, we really helped them to become successful webmasters, because we took the time to work with them.
"It's a great feeling to see these people at the shows and hear them say, 'You were the first people who actually took time to help me get started in this business. You really helped us succeed.' Our reputation for loyalty among our affiliates is really strong. We strive to take care of our affiliates and be there for them. In 2003 we had a $1 million campaign where we spent that money on keywords on Overture and Google. Those keywords linked directly to the pages where our affiliates listed their sites. It was our way of paying back our affiliates for everything they'd done for us over the previous 10 years."
Working at Tri-Tech has been more than just a job to Gary Dginger and many other employees. He met his wife in the office. His sister met her husband there, too. He believes it remains "a family business in a lot of ways."
Now, Gary Dginger and his wife are expecting their first baby. It's caused them to curtail their passion for travel, although they managed to squeeze in trips to Costa Rica and the Bahamas in the last year.
When he's not at home or in the office, Gary Dginger likes to keep sharp at the poker tables. He's been good enough to win a couple of the Porn Poker Tour tournaments that have been offered by various companies at the adult conventions.
It may have been his propensity for gambling that led to his two-year sabbatical from Tri-Tech.
"I left Tri-Tech because I was getting married, and I wanted to try something new," he said. "I took a couple of years off and opened my own affiliate program, called LatinCash.com. I ran that and traveled to all the shows, just trying to do my own thing. I thought I should try going on my own, exploring life outside the Tri-Tech office. It was different and challenging, but I came back last October when Tri-Tech offered me the job of COO. Since Tri-Tech has been close to my heart for 12 years, I couldn't refuse. It's been quite a change, going from handling just six paysites for LatinCash to dealing with so many projects, customers and affiliates, but I think being back in the office and helping Jack and David run Tri-Tech is my best choice. It will be rewarding to be part of the Tri-Tech success."