September 02, 2009

KIOSK Malone Inducted in Hall of Fame

rick-100.jpgSelf-Service World does article on Rick Malone induction to the Kiosk Hall of Fame.

KIOSK founder and CEO inducted into Hall of Fame
by Cary G. Stemle * • 02 Sep 2009

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When Rick Malone founded KIOSK Information Systems in 1993, it may have made sense to locate it in Los Angeles, where he’d grown up, attended college and spent the early stages of his professional life.

But he opted for another “L.A.” — Louisville Area, as in Louisville, Colo. — and that choice says a great deal about his values. Malone believes quality of life is a huge factor in attracting and retaining the sort of talent he values.

“Our culture is very family-oriented, and Colorado is a great place to live and raise a family,” Malone said. “We take our business very seriously. We work hard and don’t waste time.” But his employees, from management to hourly workers, are encouraged to put family first, he said. “We are very tolerant to that, and it’s helped create longevity with our employees.”


Malone, 52 and president and cheif executive of the privately held company, is one of three 2009 inductees into the Self-Service & Kiosk Association Hall of Fame.

A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” he didn’t set out to run a kiosk company. After earning an engineering degree from Loyola Marymount University, he worked for small PC companies with growth potential, then moved into software and hardware for point-of-sale systems. He eventually joined a start-up company that manufactured POS systems and sold out to investors three years in. He started KIOSK Information Systems in October of 1993.

“I’d done point-of-sale kiosks off and on, and I saw the potential,” he said.

Today, the company has about 80 employees and, with an estimated 100,000 units in the field, is the largest kiosk producer in North America. It provides custom and standard OEM systems to a world-class list of clients — names like Wal-Mart, Fujitsu, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T, as well as governmental agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Malone notes that the kiosk industry took longer to reach critical mass than analysts projected in the early 1990s, perhaps because “the complexity of executing kiosk projects has been grossly underestimated."

“When I began the business, it took a long time to explain to people," he said. "Now they know. Today, self-service technology is obviously an integral part of our society.”

Many of the companies that have competed with KIOSK have done self-service as a side business, Malone said.

“We were formed to be a kiosk company and only that,” he said. “We have focused on that from then until now. Consequently, our expertise is hard to keep up with.”

Malone says KIOSK Information Systems remains heavily focused on product development with an emphasis on understanding the possible pitfalls of any particular deployment.

“We tell our customers there’s nothing hard about it — except the thousands of details,” he said.
Each KIOSK client has a dedicated project manager, and Malone encourages those managers to be candid.

“We have checklists of what can go wrong,” he said. “But beyond that, each project has idiosyncrasies. We have to be able to anticipate issues and adjust on the fly. We take a very consultative role with our customers, and sometimes we have to reel them in and say no.”

One secret to Malone’s success, said Doug Peter, president of St. Clair Interactive Communications Inc., is his ability to focus on problem-solving. Peter has known Malone for about a dozen years, after a mutual contact brought them together for a project. They hit it off, Peter said, and their companies have collaborated on more than 30 projects since.

Peter laughed when recalling a project for Wal-Mart, which wanted a kiosk that resembled its children’s playhouses.

“I was looking for a creative solution,” he said. “I was focused on the colors and the roofline and so on. Rick, being an engineer, wanted to make sure the framework was solid and the ergonomics were right. We must’ve gone around and around on 15 designs, and the end result was wonderful. It was an interesting contrast of styles.”

Playfully noting — as Malone predicted — that he made it into the Hall of Fame first (in 2006), Peter laughed again and said: “We’ve been known to yell at each other and also to have a beer together. I value his partnership.”

Malone and his wife, Rita, have two sons in college. He enjoys all varieties of fishing and is a good golfer. (Asked about his handicap, he said, “It depends on whether we’re betting,” before giving up the number — 8.)

He is excited about the industry’s move toward specialization. “I used to tell people it’s really a product-development industry, and when it gets good, it becomes its own business. For example, look at redbox and DVDs — it emerged from the kiosk industry and now it’s its own field. It became a large segment of the industry. I think we’ll see more of that.”

Malone is grateful for the Hall-of-Fame honor and said he’s proud to be associated with such a group of innovators. And he’s proud to run a company that is recognized both for its expertise and its culture. KIOSK has been on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies and Deloitte & Touche’s Technology Fast 500.

“We are a very free-spirited company,” he said. “One of the good things about having your own business is you get to hire people who are like you. That’s a control point you don’t have in larger companies, or where you don’t call the shots.”

Hall of Fame

Rick Malone - KIOSK (originally KIS)

Janet Webster - USPS
Cort Johnson - IBM

Greg Swistak - Factura

Doug Peter - St. Clair Interactive

Alex Richardson - Netkey

Lawrence Dvorchik - KioskCom
Lief Larson - KIOSK Magazine
Francie Mendelsohn - Summit Research

Sylvia Berens Apunix
Peter Berens Apunix
Craig Keefner

Posted by staff at September 2, 2009 12:20 PM