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Published November 18, 2003
Volume 11, Number 11



Tolt Service Group Brings Supermarkets To The Digital Age
Company services technology equipment at retail supermarkets and drugstores

Tolt Engineers
Engineers Raymond Espinoza, left, and Michael Fessler add upgraded
components to a customer's computer.



By George Walsh
Network Editor



When you slide your card through an ATM machine at the checkout counter at the grocery store or see the digital display on the scale in the deli department, you may wonder who keeps all of these devices running correctly. The answer may well be Tolt Service Group. Tolt, which moved into its 3,500 square foot facility at 5627 Stoneridge Drive in June 2003, is a provider of customized technology hardware maintenance and retail technology deployment services. The company’s facility in Pleasanton is one of six that service retail supermarkets and drugstores.

Tolt Service Group, founded in July of 2002, was started by three Safeway expatriates, including Tammy Brown, a 25 year veteran of Safeway who left an organization of 297 people that managed all of the 1,800 retail store technology sets, back offices, warehouses, and manufacturing plants before leaving to offer her expertise to other companies. In most retail operations, the technology support function is handled by a team of people who are also responsible for other activities.

To effectively manage maintenance, these companies will usually contract with multiple product manufacturers to provide maintenance for all of the various equipment. Due to the large number of product manufactures and the growing mix of equipment within a store, company personnel often need to manage up to 30 maintenance contracts simultaneously to keep things running smoothly. Tolt Service Group seeks to alleviate that burden by allowing companies to outsource their technology maintenance to a single company.

“We service all of the technology equipment that you would typically find in a supermarket, including the cash register equipment, the printers, the scanners, the flat panels for displays, the coin dispensers, the laser printers in the back office, and the counter scales in the deli and bakery departments,” says Brown, senior vice president and co-owner of Tolt Service Group. Tolt’s service and maintenance goes beyond store-specific electronics and into the realm of computer network maintenance. “There are probably two or three computer network servers in a supermarket and at least one in a drug store that runs the pharmacy applications,” Brown says. “In the supermarkets and point of sale environments, there are typically a couple of controller servers that handle the sales applications.”

Tolt Service Group currently has 110 employees, with 16 based in Pleasanton, including 12 field engineers, a field manager, an inventory control specialist, and a bench engineer who does repairs. The company performs services and repairs for 1,460 stores and has installed cash registers and computer systems for closer to 2,000 facilities. For a young company, Tolt Service Group has really hit the ground running and Brown is happy that things are going smoothly while being optimistic about the future. “We’re actively looking for potential customers,” she says. “But I’d really say it’s been in the past month that we’ve gotten over our startup mode where we feel like we have a day-to-day business."

 

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