What began as an efficiency measure at Utah State University more than 10 years ago is now making millions in American Fork.
TEL Electronics manufactures computerized call-accounting systems. The company began operating 10 years ago with three employees. It went public five years ago and now employs more than 40 people.Jim Taylor, TEL Electronics vice president of operations, said the company's sales have increased about 25 percent each year. Last year the company did $2.5 million in sales, and Taylor expects 1990's sales to exceed $4 million.
"We are a healthy and growing company," Taylor said.
The call-accounting systems evolved out of a personal computer system developed more than 10 years ago by John L. Gunter when he headed the USU computer science department.
Later, while working for a Salt Lake telephone company, Gunter adapted the computer system to monitor a client's telephone calls. Now the systems are used nationwide by a variety of businesses and government agencies.
Taylor said the systems have flexible purposes. They can be used to reduce telephone abuse, to keep telephone time reasonable, to bill clients for telephone time and to monitor telephone costs.
The systems are used chiefly by hotel chains to monitor guests' telephone calls. Most federal prisons use the systems to keep track of calls made by inmates and employees. Government agencies, universities and large businesses use the systems to determine the telephone expenses of each department.
"Telephone expenses have always been kind of a mysterious expense. Now companies can determine which departments account for most of the expense and budget for it," Taylor said.
Taylor said that while waiting for a part to be installed on a system, one Salt Lake company's telephone bill decreased by 45 percent, even though the system was not in operation yet.
"It just goes to show how much some employees abuse telephone privileges," he said.
Taylor said TEL Electronics' flexibility and innovation make it one of the leading call-accounting companies in the country. He said TEL Electronics is already using technology that other call-accounting manufacturers consider future plans. Call-accounting systems used to cost about $15,000 and now cost only about $1,000, he said.
"We can argue that we are the foremost manufacturer of call- accounting systems," Taylor said. "We are the ones that drove prices down."
Taylor said the company is currently trying to acquire property for further expansion and is also in the process of acquiring one of its competitors. The company now operates out of a 15,000-square-foot building at 705 East Main.