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New Interconnect System Speeds Calls for Clothier.

The stores are filled with clothing, furnishings and sportswear by the finest names in men's tailoring. They cater to clients in some of Texas' most affluent towns. Organizations, including American Airlines, Braniff, Delta and Mary Kay Cosmetics, turn to them for custom tailoring.

Their name is Reynolds-Penland. Since 1929, this family-owned, very exclusive men's clothier has been synonymous with high-quality tailoring and old-world, personalized service.

But far from the granite exteriors and draped awnings of the seven retail department stores, Reynolds-Penland corporate headquarters and warehouse in Dallas looks and functions very much like any edifice that supports a busy sales enterprise. Some 50 employees in the one-story, 15,000-square-foot building handle bookkeeping, receiving, credit, merchandising inventory, marketing, tuxedo rental and tailoring. Here is where all deliveries are unloaded before being shipped to the retail stores. Within the building, simple partitions serve to divide floor space into 26 office areas. The only signs of unusual affluence are a smattering of animal skins and stuffed big-game trophies, bagged by the Reynolds family, which hang in the building's large, open reception area.

List most businesses that handle a large volume of trade by phone, the company depends heavily on its telecommunications system. Assistant Controller Richard Grant III explains that telephone traffic comes from three main sources--vendors, retail outlets and customers. Phones are in use constantly as buyers maintain daily contact with vendors, retail outlets call headquarters and, since Reynolds-Penland keeps fitting records on each customer, customers often call in their orders.

Grant puts it succinctly: "If our phone system goes down, we're not just hobbled--we're dead in the water!"

Old Key System Becoming Obsolete

The clothing chain was an early interconnect user, purchasing a key system in 1974. But, after 12 years, the formerly state-of-the-art system was courting obsolescence. It was also subject to increasingly frequent breakdowns.

By 1983, when annual maintenance costs for the existing system hit the $4,000 mark, Controller Gary Anderson began interviewing local interconnect companies regarding the purchase of a new system. The one demand he made of a new system an its interconnect support was that they both be reliable.

In all, Reynolds-Penland spent a year researching five systems from major resources. The company considered both leasing and direct purchase. In the end, it was decided that the newly released Opus 40 hybrid key system by Thomson-CSF Communications would best fit the specific needs of the clothing chain.

Key factors in the decision were the system's cost and its ability to be programmed in a wide variety of ways suitable for each office's requirements. Com Tel Communications, the authorized Thomson distributor, handled the planning and installation.

Reynolds-Penland was concerned during the cutover about the possibility of losing phone service in the middle of the working day, because of the amount of personalized programming that was being done on each phone, but installation of 10 central office lines and 24 stations was immediately successful. Installers finished programming the phones in just over an hour. They were also able to lay new cable alongside the existing cable, which already was connecting each of the 26 offices.

Entire Job Done in One Day

The job was completed in one day in October 1984, with no interruption in telephone service at any point during the cutover. There was only one installation "problem." Owing to the large selection of music-on-hold and telephone ring tones, the main office had difficulty in deciding which of these to choose, from the almost limitless variety of tailor-made ringing arrangements that the system provided.

For example, only three employees at the clothier's headquarters desired direct lines to the credit department. Another individual had a special need to be connected directly to the inventory-control office. In regard to nighttime ringing, the company wanted the phone to ring after hours in the accounting department only. With the new system, these and many other personal requirements were easily met.

Also, the 10 blue programmable keys on the phones, models 802 and 803, give the user easy pushbutton access to a large number of internal and external lines. Four-digit speed-dialing and one-digit automatic re-dialing, for instance, provide fast access to frequently called outside numbers. Hot-lines and a DSS (direct station selection) module give fast internal call access. A loop configuration allows up to 28 outside lines to be added under just one key, reducing the likelihood of a line tie-up to nearly zero.

The new system provides Reynolds-Penland with the numerous station features now considered standard in state-of-the-art telecommunications. These include hands-free speakerphones, onhook dialing, speed-dialing, call forwarding, conference call, store/re-dial, callback message, do-not-disturb and paging, among many others.

Available system features, in addition to station features, include SMDR (station message detail recording), music-on-hold, automatic call distribution, and common carrier access.

Compatibility Allows Easy Upgrade

The system was very easy to install, thanks to engineered modularity; it was only necessary to unplug the old system and plug in the new one. If an upgrade to the larger Opus 80 system is needed at any point, all of the parts of the two system are compatible.

Also, troubleshooting is simplified. If a user is having some difficulty that he or she believes may be due to a failure in the system, the vendor provides simple instructions for the user test. The user merely hits a short sequence of buttons on the phone. If all is working properly, the LCD display screen lights up with the words "Opus 40/80," accompanied by a ringing signal and lighting of all LEDs.

The system has the capacity to store existing program memory during a repair. This completely eliminates the need to re-program the system afterward. Should a technician or office manager want to alter existing programming, this can be done from any model 803 phone in the system, with the system up and running under full traffic. (The 803 is a full-featured telephone; Reynolds-Penland has a combination of 26 model 802 and 803 phones.)

High on Reynolds-Penland's list of criteria for purchase of the new system was price. With all of the deluxe features, the system was still considered to be within a low-to-moderate price range.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1985
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