Dale Jeffries would rather leave the zeros in the price of his product to the other guy — namely his larger competitors.
Jeffries is president and CEO of Radio Beacon, a mid-market provider of warehouse management solutions (WMS), which has grown from a three-person consulting firm in Toronto
to an international solutions provider with 40 employees.
The strategy has been simple: Provide complete solutions for less.
“”Our competitors, if you were to approach them and say ‘I need an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solution,’ they would make you write cheques with lots of zeros on them,”” he said.
“”We came out and said three’s enough zeros, so for $9,000 or $10,000, we’ll have you up and Wal-Mart compliant — leave the rest of the zeros to the other guy.””
Radio Beacon has succeeded as a mid-market company because, said Jeffries, its product is less expensive, and easier to use and install than its main competitors — Manhattan and HighJump.
With the emergence of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, demand is high for an affordable solution in the warehouse industry. Giant retailers such as Wal-Mart and Sears are now requiring their small business partners to become RFID-compatible.
“”We had to come up with an affordable, easy-to-use, easy-to -install RFID solution so that the mid-market player doesn’t have to worry about having to exit the business,”” explained Jeffries. “”They can stay competitive and still meet their client’s compliance requirements.””
The company opened in 1992 as Data Technology Software. Its founder, Tom Berend, is the company’s director of technical services and is responsible for software development. Jeffries and Berend first met in the early 1980s when Jeffries was a director at Canadian Pacific and hired Berend as a PC expert. Jeffries and Berend left Canadian Pacific to work at other jobs before reuniting at Radio Beacon.
Their first offering wasn’t really a product, according to Jefferies, but rather a custom application to meet the requirements of individual companies. It was written for DOS and ran on an Intel 386 computer. The wireless solution monitored shipping and receiving and managed conveyers.
The next version was a product with configuration options to deal with the various needs of customers.
The third version was a Web-based product while the most recent version is a .Net product that runs on a Windows platform.
Under Jeffries’ direction, Radio Beacon has maximized its channel partnerships. In the early days, Jeffries said he was happy have two or three installations a year.
Last year there were more than 150 new installations worldwide, 100 of which were handled by Accpac partners and American Express another 22.
The firm has 40 partners around the world, including three in Canada.
Annual revenue from software sales is about $6 million.
“”The nice thing about direct sales is you shoot one buffalo and you eat all winter,”” said Jeffries.
“”When you sell through the channel, it’s more like running a whole bunch of farms. You drop off at each farm and they give you one egg out of the chicken and one bottle of milk (from the cow).””
The company has its product installed in every English speaking country in the world, and a few where English isn’t the dominant language. It even has a reseller in Russia.
While the company is growing, Jeffries faces the problem worrying most North American software firms, the cost of software development.
About half his staff are developers and he’s had thoughts about outsourcing the work to other countries.
“”I’m afraid of products being manufactured in Russia or Latvia coming to North America and putting me out of business,”” he said.
“”I’m afraid of worrying about ‘Should I be opening up my office in Latvia to avoid that problem?’ Those are the big questions that you think about every morning.””