Michael Saitow is the first CIO and sole IT employee at MS Walker Inc., a fourth-generation wine and spirits distributor in Somerville, Mass. At 35, Saitow has carved an unconventional career path as a venture capitalist, entrepreneur
After having lunch with a friend and employee at MS Walker, Saitow discovered some antiquated practices he had confidence he could turn around. Saitow noticed a yellow pad his friend plopped on the lunch table and asked him, "What's that?" His friend explained that the company managed delinquent accounts on paper. "I said, 'You have 3,000 accounts, and seven cash clerks pass these along in note form? You're joking right? Hire me for 90 days, I'll get it on a computer.'" Ninety days later, Saitow says, he "had a little back end with a Web front, and it worked." Soon after, Saitow was hired.
The company was also generating 10,000 pages of storage reports and 20,000 more proof-of-delivery invoices every 30 days -- both with a seven-year compliance regulation. "All those slips were being manually filed." So Saitow purchased Fortis SE, an electronic data management product from Westbrook Technologies Inc. with a full client component. That allowed customers who once waited up to three days for order confirmations to self-serve. That also freed space in MS Walker's 700-square-foot "file room."
Now Saitow, a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in public relations, is empowering drivers and warehouse managers with technology training. "I've learned," he says, "there are no IT initiatives, only business ones." Problem solved.
Ellen O'Brien, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a senior editor at Storage magazine. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in July 2007