Tag Archives: Vendor Profiles

Record/Play Tek: Voice Logging Specialists

“Seems like just yesterday that Ed Krepps, John Haines, and I started making voice loggers and recorders,” recalled Michael Stoll, president and chief technology officer of Record/Play Tek, Inc. of  Bristol, Ind.

On  May 1, 2003, Haines, Stoll, and Krepps celebrated their 26th anniversary in the logger/recorder manufacturing business, one they started “without the benefit of venture capitalists, banks, buy-outs or any of the other machinations of finance,” Stoll noted.

RPT had an auspicious beginning in 1977. Competitor Dictaphone Corp. had 97 percent of the $200 million U.S. voice logger market, and there were two other small market players on the West coast, but the RPT trio thought it would be a good niche market to enter.

Voice logging technology in the 1970s was built around reel-to-reel tape recorders. Therefore, making voice loggers in 1977 was not much like the process in today’s digital world, where companies simply buy pre-made computer voice logging cards and hire freshman computer science graduates to create the product.

Today, Danyel Casselman, one of the sales associates at RPT, works in a state of the art engineering area including tools such as AutoCAD (a unique drafting/design program), a full machine shop with lathes, vertical mills, and sheet metal equipment for hacking out the original reel-to-reel recorders, and the digital voice logger products of today.

But the mechanics of the product are only half the story. Also surrounding Casselman are the latest in electronic and computer programming tools to aid the RPT engineers in building functional voice logging products. Casselman and other associates sell these recorders to the TAS industry, police departments, burglar alarm central stations, and hundreds of other markets.

Occasionally RPT customers call for unusual installations. The largest order the company ever had for loggers was for backing up optical discs for the U.S. military. Optical disc technology lasted about three years before being replaced by DVD-ROMs, which RPT uses today for digital backup.

Management Team History: Haines, Stoll, and Krepps have been involved in recording for many years. Krepps made one of the first all-tube, direct-coupled recording studio audio consoles. It was for his brother’s high-end audio studio in New York City. That console made all the Coca-Cola audio commercials for many years.

Haines was national service manager for Crown International in Elkhart, Ind., a manufacturer of audio amplifiers and, in the 1960s, reel-to-reel professional recorders. Haines wanted to do mechanical design for RPT and was part of the founding team.

Mike, with a B.S. in electronics from Tri-State University and an M.B.A. from Indiana University, who startedout tinkering with his father’s disc and wire recorders, was anxious to “build something.”

And now, with 3,500 reel-to-reel recorders, cassette recorders, VHS digital recorders, and computer based voice recorders manufactured in Bristol, Indiana RPT has achieved a remarkable degree of success in serving customers’ recording needs.

Service: In the early days of reel-to-reel, Dictaphone had many sales and service offices across the U.S. and could tell its prospects, “We’ll be there in six hours no matter where you are, and have you operational in 24 hours!” By contrast, how could RPT, an entrepreneurial start-up in Indiana, manage to service a malfunctioning reel-to-reel machine as far off as Key-a-Kuck, Iowa? The same year that RPT began marketing voice loggers, United Parcel Service instituted next day, 24-hour delivery service all across the United States. This was great for RPT, but there was a catch. The UPS weight limit was 50 pounds.  How could RPT engineers build, in Bristol, a 50-pound machine that could be shipped by UPS? This led RPT to another opportunity:

Price: Dictaphone’s dual-tape machine was large and expensive. This machine had two tape transports, so one could record while the other was playing back a conversation.

Product Identification: In 1977, police departments and some TAS operators were among the few who knew how voice loggers could help them evaluate the quality of their service. Today banks, brokers, and teleservice companies all use such systems and understand their potential.

Sales: After attempting to combat Dictaphone’s massive marketing programs by setting up representative and dealer organizations, RPT decided to go it alone and set up a comprehensive, factory direct sales and service program, using modern outbound telemarketing for sales and service. Today, the sales and service database at RPT has tens of thousands of prospects and users.

Ultimately RPT made a 50-pound voice logger that sold factory direct for $6,500, with a free factory loaner available for service within 24 hours. The company’s engineers, management, production people, and sales personnel lugged a 50-pound recorder all over the country to help RPT become established as a voice logger company.

Issues confronting voice logging companies:

HIPAA: Most loggers use a form of audio compression to store audio on backup discs in a recognizable format. The problem with HIPAA is determining whether these backup discs can be put in a standard system and listened to and copied. RPT’s backup discs can only be used on RPT equipment, or over the network with a secure play USB pod under the direct control of supervisors.

The Internet: How public should a voice logging company make the recording and listening process that occurs over the Internet? And how much listening can be done via Internet access? Voice is very different from video or data. This is an unanswered legal and social question for users and manufacturers.

Data access and storage: Very cheap mass storage is now coming to the home consumer market. A RPT reel-to-reel machine held eight channels for 24 hours per reel and cost $45 in 1977. Today, one 80-cent DVD-Rom holds 10 days’ worth of continuous recording on nine channels.

Friendships: It is unique to be in business today with the relationships that have matured over the course of RPT’s business. Mike and his crew indicate they have “Refrigerator Rights” with many customers, which makes selling, installing and servicing Voice Loggers a pleasure-full experience. Here is what Mike feels relationships are all about, from Marie McGuire, AnswerTel of Athens, Alabama:

“I’m not sure if you have ever received a thanks for the RPT logger for this reason or not. My daddy normally called the office and myself every day around 9 am to say hello and chat with the staff. He passed away unexpectedly this year. I reached a point several days ago where I couldn’t remember the sound of his voice I was able to listen to his voice on the logger and make wave files and CD’s for his children and grandchildren. This is not with sorrow, but with joy, at being able to hear his laughter, his words of wisdom, and the care in his voice.” – Marie McGuire (used with permission)

For more information, contact Michael Stoll and Record/Play Tec at 574-848-5233.

[From Connection MagazineJune 2003]

Onvisource (formerly CadCom): Providing Telemessaging Solutions for Business Success



The Beginning: Now headquartered in Enid, Okla., CadCom Telesystems was founded in 1984 by a group of Lockheed Aerospace development engineers in Marietta, Ga. Building on the computer science background and business talents of its founders, company officials set out to develop products specifically for the telephone answering service market. Their idea was to supply a suite of products providing improved automation and integration to services of all sizes. CadCom went on to pioneer several technological advancements. The LineMaster system was the first digital integrated switch to be aimed specifically at answering services. FaxMaster was one of the first internal faxing devices to operate without the need for an external system.

The Transition: In an effort to become a leading supplier, CadCom looked to sales agents to supplement its direct sales efforts. One of those was Communication Services, owned by Jack Baldwin. Communication Services was formally established in 1985 as a sales distributorship for Axon answering service equipment throughout the U.S. and also operated its own answering service. The Axon 4V paper-based product line was ultimately purchased by Communication Services and moved from California to Oklahoma. By 1987, customers, including Baldwin’s own answering service, demanded advances in technology that resulted in Communication Services becoming a dealer for CadCom Telesystems. CadCom’s LineMaster series provided larger growth options, paperless messaging, automatic paging, and new faxing options.

In 1995, Communication Services had grown to 15 employees and become the main sales and service agent for CadCom. As a result, Baldwin was able to purchase CadCom and move it from Georgia to Oklahoma. Communication Services remained the answering service name while CadCom Telesystems became the name of the company’s manufacturing and equipment sales division. In becoming a one-stop-shop, CadCom had diversified its product offering to answering services including digital voice recorders, order processing software, voice mail systems, and phone systems. CadCom also began reselling Southwestern Bell services as an authorized agent. By 2000, CadCom had grown to become the third largest manufacturer of answering service equipment in North America.

By the spring of 2000, growth had caused a space problem and as a result CadCom moved from a 12,500 sq ft facility to a 70,000 sq ft building. This facility is state-of-the-art and allows for larger research and development efforts. A dedicated training room, two conference rooms, and a cafeteria ensures an enclosed campus environment that translates into an enjoyable work environment. There is even an independently owned answering service that is located in the building.

In October 2000, CadCom’s new product offering, AccuCall, was installed at its first beta site. In February 2001, AccuCall was formally introduced at the CadCom Equipment Owners (OEO) Conference in Las Vegas. AccuCall features a top-to-bottom call flow design that provides the ability to handle large volumes of calls with minimal staff. New automation tools include an on-call scheduler which takes over the message dispatch process from the time the message is saved, ensuring the correct person is paged every time. Other innovations include Web page screen-pops, internal voice logging, and alarm reports for managers. If an agent goes out of rotation early or a sudden spike of incoming calls occurs, the supervisor can be alerted to ensure that no calls are missed.

Onvisource Users Group: The Onvisource Owners Association, Inc. (OEO) is a volunteer organization comprised of telemessaging services and call centers that use Onvisource’s telemessaging equipment.

OEO was formed in 1991, with about 40 users attending the first meeting. Since that time OEO’s membership has expanded to more than 100 users. The national user group meeting occurs every February with regional meetings held in the fall.

OEO provides an excellent resource for gathering ideas on how to improve operations, get new accounts, and keep staff motivated. Today many services provide more than a messaging taking function.  Many take orders, handle order fulfillment, provide delivery services, or resell mobile phone and pagers. CadCom works to keep products at the forefront of the ever-changing face of business, relying heavily on feedback from members of OEO to guide product development and generate new ideas on how to help the end users to operate more profitably.

Other successes: The company’s Business Solutions division was initially created to help end the finger pointing between vendors during equipment installations. In November 2000, CadCom spun off its Southwestern Bell agency and started Business Solutions. By the end of 2001, Business Solutions was the second-largest reseller out of 495 agencies for Southwestern Bell Telephone in its five-state region. By January, Business Solutions grew to 74 employees and it now is the top “retention and acquisition agent” for Southwestern Bell, servicing more than 115,000 businesses in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Missouri. In addition, with the recent consolidation of SBC, Business Solutions can place orders for service in nearly all SBC territories stretching from California to Connecticut.

The demand for voice logging in diverse industries gave the company an additional opportunity. In February 2001, CadCom spun off its “voice recording” product and formed VoiceLogger. Starting with four employees from CadCom and funding from an Enid Angel Investment Group, VoiceLogger has emerged as one of the top 15 call logging companies in the U.S. In less than two years, VoiceLogger grew to a base of more than 300 customers, which include USAF, the U.S. Postal Service, Conoco/Phillips, Time Warner, Bell South, Dell, and Northrop Grumman. VoiceLogger has been named “Innovator of the Year” in 2001 and 2003 by The Journal Record. It was also named to the “Million Dollar Hall of Fame” by the Oklahoma Technology Commercialization Center in 2001.

Both moves allowed CadCom to keep its core concentration on the telemessaging industry.

Today: Today, CadCom is focused on providing solutions for teleservice companies through a series of diversified product offerings: AccuCall, AccuScript, and VM3. AccuCall has evolved into an enhanced CTI telemessaging platform offering off-the-shelf hardware with a standard client server application in a traditional computer network environment. Customers can have the bulk of their hardware and computer network needs handled through local resources and the scalability provides enough flexibility to handle large service needs or start up configurations with tools to help end users successfully attract and retain customers.

At A Glance:

  • Founded 1987 Marietta Georgia
  • Presently located in Enid, Okla.
  • Industry: Telephone answering service equipment provider
  • Offers 24/7 service and support 365 days per year
  • Main contact number 800 4 CadCom (800-422-3266)
  • Products offered:

o AccuCall (answering service system)
o AccuScript (order entry / scripting)
o Portal (unified communications / voicemail)

  • Executive staff:

o Jack Baldwin: President & OEO
o Sherry Pippin: Vice President of Human Resources
o Jerry Hill: Vice President of Business Development
o J.R. Criner: Vice President of Sales and Marketing

The Future: CadCom understands that its customers’ businesses revolve around their clients, who expect first-rate service. CadCom is continuing to expand its research and development operations to provide new ways for its customers to create revenue from their existing customer base, along with targeting new customer bases. In the next year, CadCom plans to continue to provide a suite of products and services that will help customers continue to expand their revenue stream and grow their business. The first step in this direction will be to introduce Portal, a unified communication system that will incorporate traditional unified messaging functionality with customization options. Portal’s integration with AccuCall is expected to provide increased services offerings.

About Jack Baldwin: In 1985, Baldwin founded a telephone answering service called Communications Services to serve the needs of his Oklahoma-based insurance agency. He then began the purchase and consolidation of equipment manufacturers within the industry. His first product was the AXON 4V, which was purchased from AXON Corp. in 1990. In 1995 Baldwin purchased CadCom, which he then moved to Oklahoma. Baldwin was named by the Enid Chamber of Commerce in 2001 as the Enid Businessman of the Year and was appointed to the Oklahoma Governor’s Technology Committee in 2002.

Company History Timeline:

1987   Company introduces the LineMaster series
1989   Expanded paperless system introduced
1991   OEO group started by users
1995   Company purchased by Jack Baldwin
1996   ComMaster, providing batch paging and email message delivery introduced.
1998   VM3 Voice Messaging System with IVR, Auto Attendant, and Alpha Transcription  introduced.
1998   DigiVoice1 digital voice recorder introduced
2000   AccuCall released for beta testing
2000   AccuCall Windows 2000 server system released
2001   AccuScript Order Entry and Scripting software introduced
2002   On Call Scheduler for AccuCall released
2002   Internal VoiceLogger for AccuCall released
2002   Installed AccuCall at first hospital client
2002   Completed first overseas sale of AccuCall in Tanzania
2003   Released AccuCall Web server for remote access

For more information visit www.onvisource.com or call 800-422-3266. For more information on the OEO user group, call 800-311-3550 or visit www.onvisource.com/oeo.

[From Connection MagazineMay 2003]

Vendor Profile: Startel Corporation

Startel Corporation, established in 1980, is a leading provider of integrated text, voice, fax, and networking solutions for call center facilities that specialize in messaging, paging, and call transferring. The company is located in Irvine, CA, about 35 miles south of Los Angeles.

Over 1,100 customers use Startel products in such key markets as healthcare, higher education, Utility and telemessaging. Incorporated in 1980, Startel entered the integrated telecommunications products market by introducing a paperless message system and Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). For the past eighteen years, Startel has pioneered other industry firsts, providing voice, data, database, and networking capabilities in a single platform for telemessaging and other applications.

Company Milestones:

1980 – First paperless system installed.

1982 – Developed Call Diverter and Call Forwarder (over 150,000 sold).

1983 – First internally designed switch and ACD installed.

1984 – Series 4000 Concentrators introduced.

1984 – System 2800 unveiled, the first true 32 agent paperless system.

1985 – Intelligent Console developed to replace the traditional PBX and Centrex consoles in the Healthcare industry.

1986 – System 2700 is announced.

1991 – Established a market relationship with Pacific Bell (now SBC).

1991 – Developed an all-digital switch.

1992 – First generation 5700 system designed.

1992 – Startel merged with Comverse Technology (NASDAQ: CMVT) and now operates as a separate, profitable division.

1996 – Windows 95 Workstation Module, ISDN PRI interface developed.

1998 – IVR and VoiceNet, a Windows NT, flexible, and easy-to-use IVR and voice messaging system released.

1998 – Internet Callback solution introduced.

1999 – SQL server, On Call Scheduling, Windows directories, Hyperlinks released.

2000 – Workstation Module 4.0 and Web-enabled features completed.

2001 – Startel Wizard, Text Chat, and Integrated Internet Gateway developed.

2004 – The rollout of Startel’s signature platform – Call Management Center (CMC)

2006 – Rollout of Central Processing System (CPS)

2007 – CMC Version Release 6.0 and 7.0

2008 – CMC Version Release 8.0

 

Key Products:

The Startel Digital Switch is the company’s original Call Center platforms.  It is a modular, Windows-based system that supports up to 128 agents in local or multiple remote bureaus. It uses an SQL server and a true digital switch which interfaces directly with T1, ISDN PRI, DID, two-way DID, loop start, ground start and E&M trunks.

The 5700 ACD is recognized as the most flexible and powerful Automatic Call Distributor in the industry. It distributes calls in the most efficient manner possible while it provides the desired priority among your clients. It also supports remote agents and multiple bureau consolidation.

The 5700 provides a very comprehensive set of software applications that integrate seamlessly with its powerful messaging application. These applications were specifically designed to boost agent efficiency, decrease agent errors, and increase customer satisfaction.

The Startel Call Management System (CMC) is the company’s flagship Call Center platform, and by far, the most advanced solution on the market today! Developed based upon the direct input of their customers, Startel’s CMC enables Call Centers to offer more robust services and solutions to their clients while more efficiently enabling agents to process calls. The Startel CMC can intelligently and automatically dispatch calls, easily walk agents and callers through calls, and quickly set-up the most complex client accounts. Startel’s CMC works off of the most powerful Call Center switching platform in the industry, Startel’s 5700 Switch.

Startel’s New Central Processing System (CPS) provides a full Windows based solution for smaller Call Centers that are looking for more advanced features. The CPS is a platform that expands to a maximum of 4 positions and comes in the same black tower as its big brother (Startel’s CMC).  It hosts a subset of functions similar to the fully robust CMC, such as multiple time and day sensitive forms, rotating Master Cards, Tip Text, and Intelligent Form Routing. It also features SMS Delivery, Hyperlink, Caller ID Directories and Reverse Save. These features allow call centers to reduce error and speed up call processing throughput in order to reduce overhead and add revenue to their bottom line.

When a call center finds the need to expand beyond the 4 positions of the CPS, the CPS Platform has the capacity to be upgraded to the CMC platform and expand with them. Startel’s Central Processing System is fully upgradeable and can easily accept add-on applications and peripherals such as OnCall Scheduling, Time Activated Alerts, Voice Logging and Voice Processing.

This platform also offers smaller call centers the ability to easily handle more complex accounts while alleviating agent stress in meeting these customers’ advanced requirements.  The New Central Processing System utilizes Startel’s Digital Switch, the most advanced ACD switching platform on the market. This New Central Processing Platform supports Alpha Paging, Digital Paging, SMS Paging, Faxing and Emailing dispatch methods. The New Central Processing Platform is a fully contained system requiring no additional external hardware when connecting to your LAN.

Startel Corporation can be reached at 949-863-8700 or info@startel.com.

[From Connection MagazineMay/June 2002]