Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2005Kellogg School of Management
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  Frank Muscarello
  Vision POS co-founder Muscarello with, from left, Koers, Hillier, Schneider and Residori.

Alumni Profile: Frank Muscarello '03 (EMP-55)

Retail transaction
This Kellogg EMBA grad really knows how to keep the registers ringing

by Kari Richardson

Anyone who has suffered through an equipment malfunction in the checkout line, short on time and shopping cart overflowing, will relate to Frank Muscarello EMP-55.

To hear Muscarello describe it, cash registers and other point-of-sale technologies are the unsung heroes of retail, the little engines that keep chugging along while commanding scant attention — unless they aren't working, of course.

"The point of sale is on 24-7," Muscarello says. "It can take in thousands of transactions daily and all that data is pulled back to corporate headquarters. It is critical that the machine be up and running all the time. And it's being worked harder than any other piece of equipment in the operation."

Enter Muscarello and his 11-year-old company, Vision Point of Sale, which sells and services refurbished point-of-sale (POS) equipment such as terminals, scanners and inventory collection devices that companies rely on to keep their enterprises ticking. With $12 million in sales in 2004, and projections to double that figure in 2005, Vision Point of Sale's success has been fueled by companies looking to extract every bit of value from their shrinking technology budgets.

Also feeding the company's growth, co-founder and CEO Muscarello says, is a trend for businesses to retain their point-of-sale technology for longer. Unlike personal computers, which are recycled more frequently, POS equipment often stays in place for years, as companies try to maximize their return on investment.

More than 50 percent of register transactions are still done on a DOS application. And it's not uncommon for Muscarello's customers, which include high-volume retailers such as PETsMART and Saks, to employ the same technology for five years. Looking to save on their technology expenditures by using existing systems, some even go seven to 10 years before replacing machines, Muscarello says.   

It's almost inevitable during that time that companies will need to add to or replace some of their existing POS technologies — some of which the manufacturer may no longer stock. That's where Vision POS comes into the picture. The company buys up equipment from businesses that fold or upgrade their systems.

Muscarello learned the business soon after earning his undergraduate degree, going to work for another company that deals in POS technology. He soon realized the firm was too focused on profitability instead of "creating value for the client." So he and a co-worker, Vision POS co-founder Ron Sloma, left their jobs, founding the new venture in Muscarello's mother-in-law's attic.

Despite the firm's subsequent success, Muscarello admits he continually searches for ways the company can grow and serve its clients even better.

Vision POS enjoys a competitive advantage, Muscarello says, in the team of five Kellogg School graduates that make up its management. While Muscarello didn't intend to hire only those who share his B-school alma mater, the team says that a shared educational background and work values have made leadership flow smoothly.

One of those Muscarello hired was Roy Hillier EMP-55, a veteran of the chemical industry charged with standardizing company practices at Vision POS. "One of the things that attracted me most to Vision POS was that [Muscarello] had grown this business from a garage," Hillier says. "But he was still so dissatisfied and had a driving desire to improve on that which he'd built."

Other alums working at the company include Gary Schneider TMP '91, senior vice president of sales; Tim Koers EMP-55, IT director; and John Residori '77, CFO.

Part of Muscarello's effort to retool himself and his business was his enrollment in the Kellogg Executive MBA Program, which he says has helped him gain "perspectives from all angles."

That desire to improve constantly and perceive future potential doesn't appear to be waning.

"Clients have not yet begun to see the true value of the services we offer," he says. "I'm looking forward to great things for all of our stakeholders."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University