As $4-million United Science Industries grew to reach #109 on the 1995 Inc. 500, CEO Jay Koch watched labor overhead eat up his profits. The Woodlawn, Ill., environmental-service provider hadn't yet set up a computer network, so employees were duplicating work. Accounting, for example, had to gather and enter data from the field managers' handwritten sheets to generate invoices, a process that usually took at least two months. Koch needed networking power.
In late 1994 he decided to dump his 10 Macintoshes for PCs. A consultant, Real World Computers, in Centralia, Ill., determined that United needed a local area network -- at a total cost of about $76,000. Wiring 15 networked computers cost $8,000, while the Novell netware for 50 users and the server were $11,400. The computers and software came to $47,500, and in-house training cost another $9,000.
With Microsoft's FoxPro software, everyone has access to project files. "With the network, people spend less time hunting for information and more time working on tasks crucial to operations," Koch says. There's less paperwork floating around the office, since all workers can gain access to the same information from their computers.
Now accounting has access to field managers' files, so invoicing takes only 10 to 12 days, and Koch thinks that in time, it will take only 3 or 4 days. He estimates that he's speeded up accounts receivable by 5 to 10 days and lowered labor costs by $20,000 a month. -- Robina A. Gangemi* * *