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No Fault Computers At Nebraska Furniture Mart

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Tech upgrade at Nebraska Furniture Mart & R.C. Willey

For two furniture retailers west of the Mississippi, this year has been an experience in technological expansion to keep up with the growing volume of business. One of the companies, R.C. Willey, Inc., a chain of home furnishing stores based in Utah, recently underwent major technological growth with their fault-tolerant computer. Adding to the 8 processors already installed, R. C. Willey purchased 6 new processors, totaling a list price of $330,000.

Not to be outdone by their neighbors, Nebraska Furniture Mart the nation's largest single site home furnishings store, went through a substantial upgrade with its own fault tolerant computer, phasing 8 new processors at a list price of $55,000 each and adding 300 new users to the system for a new mega-store that opened at the same site. In addition to that, Nebraska Furniture Mart just completed its annual technological upgrade and added 20 gigabytes to the existing disk space, along with 100 new users. For both retailers, the fault tolerant computers from Sequoia Systems, Inc. have been an important part of their growing success.

"We depend 100% on the reliability and availability of our computer We can't do business without it,' says Ned Jones, Director of Information Systems at R. C. Willey. Earning an estimated $250,000,000 a year in sales, R.C. Willey knows the paramount importance of providing the customer with the latest information. If the information is not there at that moment to meet the customers needs, then too often that customer is very willing to go somewhere else. R.C. Willey has already experienced the consequences of such a situation first hand.

Once a power outage caused business to come to a halt for three hours because no one could take an order or make a payment. Their customers literally left the store with their business 'That is what would happen if our computer went down," says Ned. That is one experience R.C. Willey and Ned Jones would not care to repeat.

Vic Stannish, Director of Corporate Systems at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha Nebraska recognizes the competitive advantage of having high availability computing power. "When the customer needs information about our furniture, he or she wants it right then, right there," says Vic. "If our computer was down even for one day, that would mean about $800,000 in lost sales for us. We just cannot afford to have our system down and the information unavailable. Here, constant availability is essential for our business."

"We went from having 8 processors to now having the computing capability of 14 processors" says Ned Jones of R. C. Willey. "That's a 75% increase in our technology power. Before this latest upgrade, we had also expanded our memory storage capacity by buying two new memory boards and boosting up from 512 megabytes to 1 gigabyte of memory We bought the fault tolerant system because of its scalability and capacity, and we've expanded to more than nine times our original capacity." Without the scalability of the this particular computer, Ned estimates that R. C. Willey would have gone through three or four computer hardware platforms with a major expenditure of time and money.

According to Vic Stannish, one of the best benefits of their computer is that the system is easy to understand. "With more than 1,000 users on the system, minor troubles have to be dealt with quickly," he says. 'The faster we can isolate and correct a problem, the better it is for our business. Even if we were to lose a memory board, the system would go slower, but it would still run. We can open our cash registers and that is a top priority."

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.