(This article originally appeared in the Courier-Post and is used by permission.)
Friday, May 18, 2001
S. Jersey firm helps solve system woes
By JEANNE RIDGWAY
MOUNT LAUREL - Business has been good for T&N Van Service, a company specializing in moving and storing business equipment such as photo copiers, cash registers and ATMs.
A testimony to its progress since its 1992 inception, the company moved in 1998 from a three truck-bay facility in Pennsauken to a new 100,000-square-foot office/warehouse complex in Moorestown.
But with success came growing pains. By the late 1990s, an expanding customer base was pushing the company's DOS- based data management system to the brink.
"We couldn't find a software package to suit our needs," said Russell G. Taddei Jr., 35, a Bucks County-Pa. resident and owner/founder of the company along with his brother Kenneth, and cousins David Nelson and Donald Taddei.
Searching for answers to T&N's computer system woes, the company interviewed a half-dozen technical firms promising solutions.
It selected Emtec Inc. of Mount Laurel, a systems integrator for 20 years, with revenues of $100.7 million in fiscal 2000. The company has 170 employees in four locations. It maintains a corporate headquarters in Mount Laurel and branch offices in Cranford, Atlanta and Norwalk, Conn.
"We were impressed with their desire to understand our needs. They weren't going to give us a cookie-cutter solution that wouldn't work for us," Russell Taddei said.
Such words from Taddei please Emtec's Deepak Sehgal.
"A solution is not handing a person a piece of equipment, it's an answer to a business need," said Sehgal, 34, Emtec' s director of e-business development.
While e-business consulting is Emtec's newest focus, the backbone of Emtec has been those areas having to do with computer servers, hardware and software.
But within the past two years, Emtec has widened its scope beyond pure systems integration. Today, it helps companies like T&N Van Service get connected with their customers via the Internet, Sehgal said.
Last year, Emtec opened two E-Business Innovation Centers, one in Cranford and one in Atlanta, where customers may "test drive" proposed hardware and software before investing in the technology.
"It gives the customer a comfort level and a guarantee that it will work before we put it in their environment," Sehgal said.
Emtec's solution to T&N's sluggish database problem came in 1998. It offered speed, flexibility and made customer interaction on the Internet possible for the first time. T&N's old computer network was carried off to the graveyard and Emtec installed a network server system.
"We don't have to wait two hours for our bills of lading to be printed, anymore. Now, it takes about 20 minutes. And we don't have to print them out and walk them over to truck drivers. We just send them to their printer," said Maria Hermansky, T&N's senior administrative assistant.
Taking T&N a step further, Emtec developed a company e- mail system. Now, customers may use the Internet day or night to communicate with T&N, examine their accounts in a read-only format, or print out an inventory report. Customers love the convenience, and more than 50 percent use it readily, Hermansky said. Plus, the feature saves T&N time and money, too - no more printing out bulky reports and running to the post office.
"Initially, we just wanted to improve our database, but with the e-mail system, this took us in directions that we didn't anticipate," Hermansky said.
Taddei said he is satisfied with Emtec's solution, a system costing $100,000 to develop.
It's been four years since T&N and Emtec shook hands for the first time. Now, Taddei is retaining the tech company to develop an additional database offering more interactive options for customers. He also wants Emtec to help build the company's Web page.
Increasing this type of strategic partnering with customers is Emtec's vision for the future, according to John Howlett, 56, the company's CEO. He hopes to see Emtec grow in the consulting field and expand its e-business infrastructure and data management services.
Greater importance will be placed on good data management as companies collect increasing volumes of information necessary for their operations, Howlett predicts.
Emtec was formed by the merger of several companies in the mid-1990s. Its predecessors are Landress Computers of Mount Laurel, Comprehensive Business Solutions of Cranford, and Computer Source of Atlanta, Ga. - each company an 18- to 20-year veteran in the field.
Formerly a privately held company, Emtec became public in January. Its stock trades, thinly, on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol ETEC.OB.
Emtec's vendor partners include Cisco Systems, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Veritas.
Two of Emtec's largest customers are MBNA, the Delaware bank and credit card issuer, and the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, an organization familiar to millions of college hopefuls everywhere.
But its bread and butter business comes from small and mid-sized companies, such as car dealerships, professional offices and companies like T&N Van Service.
"What motivates me is seeing how technology can help companies increase their profits, decrease their costs and improve customer service," Sehgal said.