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Surgical-lighting Company Finds

New Markets Using e-Commerce


A small Louisville/Lexington, Kentucky company that makes surgical lighting for hospital operating room has found new markets with the federal government using electronic commerce technologies.

BFW Inc. makes fiber-optic headlights for surgeons in Lexington and sells them through a marketing office in Louisville. President Lynn Cooper said what started as a hobby for her father in 1971 has become an international business with annual revenues between $5 million and $10 million.

BFW marketing director, Alan Kirschenbaum, who is Cooper's husband, attended a Kentuckiana EC/EDI users meeting and met Roy Coleman, MTTC EC/EDI Director. After several meetings and relating problems of government contracting such as getting timely bid opportunities, mounds of paperwork, contacting numerous agencies and locations, MTTC provided the right EC solutions to solve these and many more problem areas.

The result was implementation of MTTC's e-commerce solutions that provided instant online access and response to all government procurement sites from one (1) location to find requests and solicitations for BFW's surgical lighting products. New contract opportunities for the Veterans Administration, Department of Defense and others were also found using MTTC's e-commerce solutions.

The company sells in Russia, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom, among other places, along with all 50 states in this country.

Cooper's father Leon was an IBM engineer in Lexington when a neurosurgeon friend of his complained about the lights available in the operating room. The engineer's imagination took over, and a product was born.

But it was still just a hobby for the senior Cooper. "It allowed my father to travel to the medical congresses" that doctors have each year in exotic locales, Lynn Cooper said. She and her brothers helped make the lights in the family garage. But as more and more doctors bought the BFW lights, Leon Cooper retired from IBM to work full time in the new business.

Lynn Cooper, who earned a theater-arts degree from the University of Kentucky and spent 10 years as a producer for KET, started working for the company in 1990, "answering phones and taking orders." She became director of international marketing and has been president for five years.

She and two brothers share ownership of the firm. Ira Cooper runs the manufacturing operation in Lexington, while Andy, who is in Scottsdale, Ariz., markets a line of the company's products to dentists. Leon Cooper is still chief engineer and chairman of the board.

Office Supplies & Equipment Company

Retains Toyota using e-Commerce


Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Georgetown, KY, purchased office supplies and equipment from Fourth Avenue Office Supply for many years in paper format as a tier 1 supplier. An EC/EDI compliance "letter" was sent to all 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier suppliers, mandating electronic format (EC/EDI) within 60-90 days. All contracts could be cancelled without compliance within the specified time frame.

In addition, access to and sales of office products to Ft. Knox, Ft. Campbell and other government customers in Kentucky and Indiana could also be lost without EDI and EFT capability. A total solution was needed to satisfy both commercial/industrial and federal government EC requirements.

Information developed during MTTC’c detailed onsite needs analysis, coupled with strict evaluation of several EDI Value Added Networks (VAN) software yielded a very good EDI solution. Considerable software redesign was required to meet both Toyota and federal government EDI requirements.

MTTC’s experience with commercial and federal government EDI systems, market knowledge, EDI software, training, installation and implementation were key ingredients in providing a total integrated EDI solution.

Fourth Avenue Office Supply’s owner, a CPA, evaluated every detail of the project for best cost, total efficiency and productivity. Project completion was 30-45 days ahead of Toyota’s deadline.

MTTC provided an integrated EC/EDI solution satisfying both commercial/ industrial and federal government EDI requirements in a single interface or software package. Also, provided basic education, personnel training, computer hardware recommendation, EC/EDI software installation, testing and complete turn-key implementation of EC/EDI service for Fourth Avenue Office Supply to continue transacting business with Toyota MMF and area federal customers.

More than 400 paper purchase order and invoice transactions per month were converted to electronic EDI format. Time required for the monthly Toyota order-invoice transaction process was reduced form days to hours. The EC/EDI process reduced the transaction error rate by 93% over paper process.

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