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Banking on a Hard Drive

Technology shift keys growth for Rock Hill training firm

     On their way to making Rock Hill’s Abby Inc. a top company in computer-based training for banks, Ken Evans and his staff learned the value of being committed -- and muddling through.  In the late 1980s, the company worked to shift its training programs to computers from filmstrips and eight-track tapes. 

     It was riskier then than it seems now. Computers weren’t fast, didn’t have much memory and had little, if any; sound capability: After months of hard work, Abby was close to launching its first computer-based training program. Then its sole supplier of sound cards went out of business. It's supplier of projectors also closed. “When I think back to all the struggles we went through to develop this program -- you didn’t know enough to be scared,” Evans says. 

     Abby provides banks and other companies with training for employees on check-proofing machines, check-imaging and remittances devices and TenKey calculators. It can customize the training software to individual customer procedures and processes.  Abby deals with the 100 largest banks and service bureaus in the United States and Canada.  Some are as far away as Hawaii and Vancouver. It recently developed training in French for a company in Quebec. And it’s working on training for the hearing-impaired using closed-captioning.  About half of Abby’s clients still use DOS-based systems, including Bank of America Corp. The other half uses Windows-based systems.  DOS customers are usually in no hurry to upgrade the computers they use for training.  

     Bert Young started Abby in 1976 in Atlanta. He made sales calls on Evans when he worked at banks in Ohio and South Carolina in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Evans became interested in what Young did and bought the company in 1984, moving it to Rock Hill.  

     The company's long list of clients includes Wells Fargo & Co., which merged with Abby client Norwest Corp. in 1998 and subsequently adopted Abby's Proof Performer product companywide.  “The benefits are that our employees are consistently trained, which doesn't happen when they learn at the elbow of another proof operator,” says Marsha Tower, Texas proof manager for Wells Fargo Services Co. in Dallas. “When they're finished, they already have the quality instilled and are beginning to build their speed.”

Charlotte Business Journal

Week of January 3, 2003

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