What hasn't changed: The husband-and-wife team still hands out their home number to customers. (Cell number, too, though that obviously came after 1964.)
The company's service team is on call around the clock, holidays included, but
"What we are selling is 'when you need us,'" he said. "It's not just a product but a service."
The Elkins, who were inducted into the
What changes have you seen in the industry over nearly 50 years? What did customers need then versus now?
Alan: We have seen the evolution of the photocopier -- analog machines were soon replaced by digital copiers, and soon digital copiers had the ability to connect to a network to scan, print and copy in color.
Lois: The work has changed so dramatically. Fifty years ago, computers were brand new on the scene. Many were the size of very large rooms. Today, computers continuously are becoming smaller and smaller and faster and faster, with far more capacity, and have now become an integral part of much of the equipment we sell.
When did you start giving your cell and home phone numbers to customers, and how often do you get awakened at night as a result?
Alan: Three and a half months after we started the business, I called upon a former customer of mine from my previous company. ... Their president, Mr.
He then pointed to a Thermo-fax copier ... and he said, "Alan, that is not a copying machine, it's a contract maker and it needs service when it needs service! So what are you going to do?"
I took out my business card (possibly still wet from the printer) and wrote my home number on the back and said, "
As for how many times we have been called at home, in the early years, it was certainly hundreds of times. Today, even though we have a staff of technicians available at all times of the day or night to answer emergency calls, every customer that we meet still gets our home and cell numbers, and we still get calls from time to time.
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