Experts now admit that predictions of the paperless society the computer age was to usher in were premature at best.
Christopher Carter, president of Champion Moving & Storage Inc., believes they were downright wrong.
Indeed, he sees gold in the cartons of old invoices, dead files and other records that many firms cram willy-nilly into attic or basement store rooms.
“The hard copy,” Carter says, “is here to stay.”
Paper records in theory can be fed into computers or onto laser disks. But setting up a virtual filing system does not come cheap, he says. And such systems can be wiped out in equipment failures or doctored by hackers.
A number of Rochester-area businesses agree.
Carter’s medium-tech alternative to attic jumbles–a 100,000-square-foot former apple warehouse outfitted with computer-tracked storage slots–adds a tidy $250,000 a year to the $3 million in sales Champion’s more traditional moving and storage business generates.
The business-records service, marketed under the name Accutrak, is Champion’s fastest-growing segment, Carter says. He projects sales will double and possibly triple within five years, and is weighing the idea of spinning it off as an independent company.
Even if he goes that route, Carter does not see Accutrak supplanting Champion.
He started Champion 10 years ago, resurrecting it from the ashes of the bankrupt Allied Van Lines franchise for which he had worked as general manager for the previous nine years.
Carter started with four workers and three trucks, grossing some $350,000 in his first year.
Federal price deregulation and tighter truck-maintenance rules have squeezed industry margins over the past decade, factors that Carter says leave room only for efficiently run regional carriers.
In 1991, he opened a second Champion office in Syracuse.
Between the two locations, the company’s fleet now numbers 14 semis and eight smaller trucks and vans. Its full-time workers total 48, including three at Accutrak.
Meanwhile, Carter has other upstate markets in his sights.
“If you don’t regionalize in this business,” he says, “you’re dead.”