Archives & Acquisitions

By William C. Gillis

For a complete list of this year’s SBC 50 businesses, see ‘The SBC 50,’ December 2001 SBC.

Employees: 90
Location: Watertown, Conn.
Principal: A.J. Wasserstein, president
Business: Records-management service
Tech: Uses scanners and bar codes to track the location and movements of client records.

Here’s the tale of the tape: 1,500 customers, 1.7 million boxes of records, and four acquisitions in the last 20 months. These may sound like statistics for a major conglomerate, but they belong to ArchivesOne, a 90-employee archives-management company based in Watertown, Conn., that continues to grow and expand into new markets. Currently, ArchivesOne serves the Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, and Ohio markets, and has eight warehouses for document storage. In most cases, the company is able to deliver a box of documents to a client within three hours.

To keep it all in order, the company uses a ‘hammock system,’ in which boxes from one company are not all stored in one area. Instead, any box picked up from any customer is placed on the first available shelf in the warehouse. John Pavlovich, ArchivesOne’s chief financial officer, explains that the hammock system makes retrieval and storage much faster and easier than a grouping system – but it’s impossible unless you have the right technology. ‘The lower-tech businesses in our industry would sort it by company,’ Pavlovich says. ‘We don’t reserve a spot for a box when it leaves. When it comes back, it goes to a new location in the warehouse. If you don’t have the technology, there’s no way you can do something like that.’

What makes it all possible is a database that tracks every box and its movements. ‘Our drivers use handheld scanners, similar to those used by UPS,’ Pavlovich says. ‘Every time we move a box, whether it’s at the client site or at our warehouse, its bar code is being scanned and downloaded into our system, so we know who last touched it and what they did with it.’

The company’s recent acquisitions have presented unique challenges. In some cases, ArchivesOne converted an acquisition’s database into one of its own existing databases. In others, it took steps to improve the acquisition’s existing system. ‘We have great in-house expertise on conversions,’ Pavlovich says. ‘We’re able to take data and get it in a format that works in our system.’

But A.J. Wasserstein, ArchivesOne’s, founder, president, and director of customer happiness, believes that technology alone can’t ensure success. ‘The technology is phenomenal, but how we use it is the real magic,’ he says. ‘We happen to have great tools, but I think more important are the procedures, structure, and people that surround the tools. Just because you have Word on your computer doesn’t mean that you’re Shakespeare.’

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.
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