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Rochester Top 100: Firm thrives amid complexity and regulation

Rochester Business Journal
April 4, 2014

Brighton-based UniLink supplies hardware for financial institutions. (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

As the regulatory environment becomes increasingly complicated for banks and other financial institutions, UniLink Inc. continues to try to find ways to make compliance manageable.

The Brighton-based company sells more than 15 financial hardware products—ranging from an array of scanners to printers—to customers nationwide. It also provides service and support.

“We actually have the broadest portfolio of tabletop equipment for branch offices of financial institutions of anybody in the country,” President and CEO Louis Fuchs said.

“We continue to listen to our customers and find out what the requirements are. We engage our existing manufacturers and vendors or new ones to become authorized to sell and service those new offerings,” he said.

UniLink has doubled its sales force over the last three years to 10 people, complementing 18 service representatives. The company expects to add four employees by year’s end, doubling total employment from 16 in 2011.

Fuchs founded UniLink in August 1988 after working in the financial industry for a manufacturer. It celebrated its 25th anniversary last August and moved its headquarters to Metro Park from Monroe Avenue in Pittsford some 18 months ago.

“One of the biggest reasons for our growth is that all of our sales reps have been here for an extended period of time,” Fuchs said. “As our sales reps continue to engage and talk to customers, and build relationships with them, they find more opportunities. Because of that, we expand these relationships.”

The company does business in all 50 states, he said.

Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co. is among UniLink’s clients.

“We’ve had the scanner functionality for a long time, and they are so responsive and very important to us,” said Sandra Roberts, the bank’s senior vice president and chief information officer.

“They have a centralized facility here that helps us along so we don’t have to have a huge volume of units on our shelves. They can repair things very quickly.”

The experience of the sales organization has resulted in an increase in cross-selling new products as well as in service and support, Fuchs said. A typical customer purchases three to 10 products, he said.

For example, a client will buy a check scanner and then add a receipt scanner, photo identification scanner or electronic signature pads, he said.

“The other big thing is we have an enormously successful service department,” Fuchs said. “I compare it to a car dealership. If you have a great service department, your customer is going to come back to buy another car from you.”

The regulatory climate brought on by the global economic woes of 2008 has heightened the demand for the firm’s products, Fuchs said.

“Your typical branch office now has moved to what they call front-counter capture, where there’s a check scanner in front of each teller, along with a receipt printer,” he said. “What was once just one scanner on the back counter now might be four scanners and four printers.”

Fuchs expects the future to be even brighter as cross-selling of products continues and because of compliance issues.

“Financial institutions are the most heavily regulated business in any industry,” he said.

“There are strict guidelines, and we see huge increases in things like photo ID scanners to verify that a person is who they say they are when they cash a check and electronic signature pads to automate paper flow.”

Growth also has come from the sale of refurbished equipment, which often costs half of the price of new equipment, and in service contracts, Fuchs said.

The biggest challenge for UniLink and others in its industry is keeping pace with the need, Fuchs said.

“There’s never been a better time or place than where we are right now,” he said. “The opportunities are blowing right through the roof. The biggest challenge we have is to make sure we continue to expand and grow our support organizations.

“That’s not an industry challenge. It’s a company challenge.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year’s Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 5. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

UniLink Inc.
Supplier of table-top financial hardware, supplies, service and support
Founded: 1988
Top executive: Louis Fuchs, president and CEO
2013 ranking: 74
Employees: 28
Location: Brighton
Website: www.unilinkinc.com

4/4/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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