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Small Repair Business Streamlines Processes

Stoll & Co., in Ohio, uses RFID to manage the roughly 12,000 watches it handles monthly, improving productivity and customer service.
By Michael Belfiore
Jul 19, 2015

When Ron Stoll began his watch-repair business with a single wristwatch in 1982, he couldn't imagine that one day he'd have to be concerned about managing the cleaning, repair and shipping of some 120,000 timepieces annually. Today, Stoll & Co. has grown to 62 employees working at an 8,000 square-foot facility in Dayton, Ohio. The firm handles some individual repairs from consumers, but 95 percent of its business comes from manufacturers and retail jewelers, including those in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The small company faced big challenges as it tried to provide quality work and service customers on a timely basis. Stoll was managing the 10,000 to 12,000 watches it handles monthly with manual processes, which were inefficient and time-consuming. Each watch may go through as many as 15 different pairs of hands, as the work to be done on it is estimated, and the watch is disassembled, cleaned, repaired, lubricated, timed, pressure-checked and reassembled. It was not uncommon for watches to become mislaid as they moved from desk to desk, and workers would have to comb through large numbers of individually bagged watches to find the one they should be repairing.

The ability to quickly identify a watch's location helps customer-service representatives update customers who call in to check on repair status.
To solve these challenges, in June 2012, Stoll deployed a passive RFID solution provided by CDO Technologies, to track watches from intake through repairs. Since then, the company has integrated RFID technology into its shipping process, and in November 2014, it added a batch-processing application that can update the statuses of 50 to 60 watches simultaneously.

The three-phase RFID project has transformed the company's business, Stoll says, making it more cost-effective and his employees more productive. In addition, he notes, the ability to quickly identify each watch's location helps customer-service representatives update customers who call in to check on the status of their repairs.

The Right Timing
Stoll, who is a strong believer in the power of information technology to streamline business functions, began researching RFID in 2009. At that time, he found the technology was primarily used by organizations with much larger budgets than his. But he believed prices would drop, so he stayed on top of developments in the RFID field. "I've always had the philosophy that you're only as good as your IT," he says.

Finally, in 2012, Stoll judged that prices might be low enough for him to begin looking for a vendor to discuss a possible RFID solution for his business. He put his software engineer, Ali Mostashfi, on the case, and his search led to systems integrator CDO Technologies, based in Stoll & Co.'s hometown of Dayton.

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