Press Coverage

This column appeared in the Aurora Beacon-News on January 6, 2002:

Punching a clock has new meaning

By Jim Faber
Business Beat

Copyright 2002, Aurora Beacon-News

Doug Marsh wants to solve all that is wrong with time cards and punch clocks.

His company, TimePilot Corporation of Batavia, and product of the same name set out to do that.

The TimePilot system allows employees to punch in and out by using a key-chain-size button. Information from employees punching in and out is then stored on a PC for easy use.

That system has a number of advantages over the time card or even the electronic credit cardesque ID cards that record employees coming in or out, said Marsh, CEO of TimePilot.

The TimePilot system keeps track of who is in and out and transmits that information to a computer so bosses or receptionists can easily track who is in the building.

The system also tallies employees' hours at the end of the pay period without any mistakes. By doing so, it cuts the hours usually needed to add up hours of dozens of time cards while trying to figure in sometimes complicated overtime rules, Marsh said.

The system works well even in a dirty environment like a garage or woodshop, Marsh said.

One of TimePilot's current clients struggled with sawdust getting into the punch clock and absorbing the ink. Another used to spend two days to add up and fix problems with time cards every other week; now that process takes less than half an hour, Marsh said.

TimePilot Corporation spun off of Spectrum Companies, also in Batavia, in June to introduce this product to the commercial market.

Marsh's father started Marsh Products about 30 years ago. That company developed the drive-through systems, automated drink dispensers and french-fry computers for McDonald's Corp. Eventually, a number of other companies spun off of Marsh Products, so Spectrum was created as a holding company for all of them, Marsh said.

Because the rest of Spectrum's companies focus on the fast-food industry, TimePilot became independent in an effort to find its own market, Marsh said.

The TimePilot system originally was meant to be used by hospitals to track who was on or off on any given shift, but, by the third iteration of the product's development, Marsh realized he had a sort of electronic time card system instead.

Because it works well even in dirty environments, the company saw small manufacturers as the main market, said Mike Hanlon, the company's design director. But a financial company, a telemarketer, medical companies and other offices have been among the first customers, too.

About 80 percent of all businesses with hourly employees still use a paper punch card system, Marsh said, but it hasn't been hard to sell businesses on the new technology.

"It's been easy to point out the returns on investment," Marsh said. "If you come in at 7:22 and leave at 3:47, how much time did you work? It isn't easy."

By cutting payroll processing time, the TimePilot, which costs about $1,000 for 50 employees, can often pay for itself in one or two pay periods, Marsh said.

The company's web site, www.timepilot.com, has attracted interest from companies in Canada, Kuwait, Australia, Jamaica and India, Hanlon said, but most of the customers thus far are from the Chicago area.

Contact Jim Faber at (630) 844-5889 or jfaber@scn1.com

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