Henrietta company adds magical touch for shuttle, Disney
(Rochester Business Journal; 09/11/98)
A Henrietta-based company's touchscreen monitors have traveled into space,
taken a pounding by John Madden during the Super Bowl and helped add magic to
the Walt Disney Co.
National Integration Systems Inc., which has grown some 1,900 percent since
being founded in 1992, made the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private
companies this spring, ranking 169th.
NIS' sales of touchscreen products are expected to exceed $12 million in
1998, up from $10 million in 1997.
NIS supplies monitors to 300 customers, including Eastman Kodak Co., Johnson
& Johnson's Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Inc. and NASA. Its screens have been
used aboard the space shuttle Discovery, for broadcast sports coverage, and by
ABC's Peter Jennings during the last presidential election.
"(Touchscreens) are going to become the operator interface of choice. You
are going to see it in all sorts of new commercial applications," said James
Odorczyk, president and founder.
A former software engineer at Xerox Corp., Odorczyk founded NIS in 1992,
after leaving Inter-ad Inc., which developed public-access kiosks using
touchscreens, such as those used in Wegmans Food Markets Inc. store
He had founded Inter-ad after leaving Xerox a decade earlier.
NIS began with three employees and one contract, with Kodak. It now employs
35 and has more than 300 customers.
The company's success surprises Odorczyk more than anyone. It has grown 10
times larger than he expected.
In the early 1990s, touchscreens were not mainstream products, Odorczyk
said. But the popularity of graphical-user interfaces (such as Windows) in PCs
and the industry's shift from proprietary systems to standardized PC boards
made touchscreens ripe for growth.
"I have always been fascinated by touchscreen monitors," he said. "Using a
mouse was really too inefficient in a lot of applications, or the mouse could
not withstand the environment. I just thought the touchscreen market was going
to take off.
"Touchscreens are now commonplace. You see them everyplace-- restaurants,
public-access kiosks, ATM machines," Odorczyk said.
While the glamorous uses involve space, football and politics, most sales
come from two key markets: medical equipment and industrial-process control,
where users need equipment that can operate in a tough environment.
Chuck Mackay, manufacturing engineer with Johnson & Johnson, one of NIS'
first customers, said other companies sell touchscreen products, but NIS stands
out because of their customization and willingness to work with his company's
"It's not just the equipment. We have a great relationship with them," he
NIS touchscreen monitors are integrated in Johnson & Johnson's blood
analyzers. The company chose touchscreens because of the ease of use and
ability to withstand a hospital environment, Mackay said.
Much of Johnson & Johnson's equipment requires certification for
international sales, and NIS works with the company to overcome any issues. NIS
recently added a testing facility to ensure its monitors meet domestic and
Odorczyk said some competitors sell off-the-shelf touchscreen products, but
NIS concentrates on custom work. NIS purchases monitors from various companies--
its warehouse is filled with boxes from ViewSonic, Mag Innovision and other
major monitor manufacturers--and then adds touchscreen technology and custom
"Our business is really a project-based business. It's not a one- size-meets-
all," he said. "The largest benefit we always have is being flexible. We have
a bunch of problem-solvers."
The touchscreen industry has grown from $200 million in 1996 to $1 billion
in 1997. Odorczyk expects the growth to continue.
The falling costs of monitors and computer chips will push touchscreens into
a slew of products in consumer and industrial markets, he said.
Retail uses are the fastest-growing area for the technology, Odorczyk said.
"You can't walk into any chain restaurant without seeing a touchscreen." he
said. "There are a lot of advantages for them, the same as for our customers."
Touchscreens are easy to operate, require little training and must be rugged
enough to handle being exposed to substances ranging from blood to beer.
Odorczyk expects touchscreens to move into the consumer market, but is
uncertain if NIS will play a role there.
"I would not be surprised ... (to) see these things on VCRs an TVs," he
Independent sales representatives handle NIS' domestic sales, but the
company has begun shipping internationally since the launch of its World Wide
Web site at the the end of 1997. Its sales have expanded into Europe,
particularly Sweden and Spain. With the industry shift from traditional
monitors to LCD display, more equipment is being shipped to Asia.
Some 85 percent of sales occur outside of New York State. The company sold
15,000 monitors last year, but its low-volume contracts get more attention. For
example, it recently supplied touchscreen monitors for all the new Disney
Most of its products are sold to original equipment manufacturers, which put
their own name on the monitors.
"I often say we are the best-kept secret in Rochester," Odorczyk said. He
credits an energetic and enthusiastic work force with being able to generate
$12 million in sales with just 35 employees.
"They don't think, 'Hey that can't be done.' We think, 'Let's do it.' "
****** Copyright Rochester Business Journal Sep 11, 1998