We make things that don’t exist before we make them, explains Bill Raven, senior vice president, sales & marketing for Bellatrix Systems, Inc., a Bend-based privately-held company that creates high tech electronic control units, service indicators, card readers and semi-automatic vending units.
Once the company has an idea for a new product it finds a market for it just like they are industriously doing with their newest product, CATS (Card At Table Service), which provides a revolutionary alternative to the process of how credit card transactions are handled in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and many other hospitality environments where card security may be an issue.
Bellatrix, founded in 1986 by Tom Ellsberg (deceased) and Steve Morris, its current CEO, has successfully developed patented “Embedded Low-Power” systems that uses special electronic components which operate at very low voltage (3 volts) over an extended time of use (4-6 years).
Over the last 24 years the company has employed battery operated technologies to provide data acquisition, security and information management for a variety of companies. The products are marketed worldwide in the restaurant/nightclub/bar, newspaper, international courier and biotechnology industries.
“Generally one product leads to another,” explained Raven.
Incorporated into the systems that Bellatrix have engineered is the novel use of Lithium power cells to act as the principal energy source for these control units.
Some of these innovative products have included the first battery powered electronic coin acceptor for newspaper vending machines. And in keeping with our credit card society, Bellatrix created IMPACT, that allows the use of a credit card for newspaper boxes.
Available in self-powered configurations, these units provide a flexible approach to vending operations.
Today the company employees 28 people, but have had as many as 100 such as in 2006 when they were delivering new components for over 100,000 USA Today newspaper vending machines.
Bellatrix also engineered a sophisticated information management system for newsracks (SINGLE-TRAK) that provides tracking information on sales, receipts and time of sale to monitor circulation.
In the international courier industry, Bellatrix developed a system that provides data acquisition, an electronic locking mechanism and a service indicator. The system offers data on demand, locks and unlocks the box and operates a visual indicator to show that the box has been cleared. FedEx, DHL, and UPS represent a cross section of the major customers for this technology.
In the biotechnology industry, Bellatrix offers a unique remote-controlled release system suitable for use with key aerosol products. Specific emphasis is placed on accurate and controlled release rate of aerosol products commonly used in high value crops worldwide.
CATS SHOWING UP AT LOCAL RESTAURANTS
Over the last few months Bellatrix has been testing its newest product at two local restaurants: Bend Brewing and Yoko’s.
“We have just completed the first phase of our local Alpha testing for our new CATS product at the Bend Brewing Company and Yoko’s where the response from their customers was simply terrific!” reports Raven.
CATS allows credit card users to charge their meals/drinks on their credit card at the table and ensures that their coveted credit card never leaves the table.
In addition, once the credit card has been swiped a service indicator illuminates to summon the server to the table to close out the transaction. Raven says that CATS is the complete out of the box solution for restaurant, night club and bar owners.
A growing increase in credit card fraud is a significant concern in the hospitality industry. Deploying a secure payment processing solution is paramount to restaurant owners who are liable for misuse of customer’s credit cards.
The publicity of a cardholder data breach for a business can have a drastic effect destroying the credibility of the establishment and causing the loss of loyal customers. Many business owners don’t realize they are liable for costs related to this breach including forensic investigations, fines and card reissuance.
“The CATS process provides the security that customers demand and mitigates the risk for lost or stolen credit cards,” adds Raven.
When the customer is ready to pay the bill, the wait staff simply brings a check presenter with an integrated CATS Smart MSR to the table. A simple swipe of the card through the CATS reader securely encrypts and saves customer card information on the mobile payment device. A green light on the device alerts wait staff that the bill is ready for pick up thus streamlining customer care during the checkout process.
One might be concerned about the cost of this new product, especially during recessionary times and dwindling restaurant business. But the cost to install the product is a one time $2,000, which includes ten readers and no recurring costs. Raven says that the ten readers are ample for a restaurant of Yoko’s size as not every table needs their own credit card reader.
“This is a one hundred percent Bend researched and developed product with a huge market potential,” says Raven. “There are more than 530,000 eating places in the U.S. hospitality industry alone where tableside service is used.”