- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2000

Hayman Systems was named American University's D.C. Family Business of the Year for 1999. Now, about two months later and after 61 years in business, the company is selling out."Every entrepreneur has got to be in a position to exit his business," said Richard Hayman, the former president. "I can't think of a better way to exit than to make it six times larger than it is today."The company announced last week it was purchased for an undisclosed amount by Micros Systems, a Beltsville provider of hospitality computers, including point-of-sale machines. The new company, called Micros-Fidelio Southeast, expects to grow from $700 million to $1 billion in revenues by the end of 2002.Hayman has been reselling, installing and maintaining Micros machines since 1982."It is more like adopting a child," Mr. Hayman said. "We are the child and Micros is the parent. The parent is going to help that child grow." Mr. Hayman said the acquisition was a natural progression toward growth without risking the survival of the company."They bought us because we know how to run the street business and now we're going to fill in the gaps," said Claudine Hayman, Mr. Hayman's daughter and the director of marketing for the company.The new company will distribute technology equipment to the hospitality industry operating beyond its current service area in the District and south Florida to the entire southeast.Though the general operations of Hayman will remain the same, the unification of the company by combining the strengths of both will hopefully bring in more customers and eliminate a middle man, which was the role Hayman Systems had played, Ms. Hayman said.The Hayman Systems part of the new operation will remain at the present location at 14700 Sweitzer Lane in Laurel. No one will lose their jobs.Mr. Hayman said the two companies complement each other."The signs and the letterhead will change, but the culture is still the same," Ms. Hayman said. "We'll be able to get more business from it."Hayman maintains Micros products for Marriott and Hilton hotels, Silver Diner, FedEx Field in Landover, the National Cathedral, Camden Yards and Baltimore-Washington International and Washington Dulles International airports.

Each client's system is custom made with touch-screen features. For example, at FedEx Field, waiters in the stands use a Micros computer installed and maintained by Hayman to take orders and transfer them to the kitchens.

Jeff Owens, chief financial officer for Clyde's Restaurant Group has been a Hayman client since August. He said the merger between the services of Hayman and the equipment from Micros will ultimately benefit Clyde's and the company's other clients.

"It is critical for our business to have a reliable system," Mr. Owens said. "[Hayman] did a nice job handling the installation."

Hayman installed the computers that make the jobs of the Clyde's wait staff a little easier. When an order is made, the server enters it into a computer and the order is distributed to the appropriate areas of the restaurant, including the bar and kitchen.

"It's going to be an advantage to us," he said. "If you could just imagine on a Friday night, the chaos."

Hayman Systems' help desk and the hot line for computer glitches is another plus, Mr. Owens said, explaining that the company has had no problems since it signed on with Hayman.

Mr. Hayman said that kind of service will not change as a result of the merger, but will improve. He said Micros will be closer to the customers as a result of the merger and the customers will see the difference of not having to deal with two companies.

"If anything, it should improve because we'll have more resources," Mr. Hayman said.

Those resources are one of the reasons that the company decided to expand through acquisition.

Mr. Hayman said there was a question of who would take over and how long the company would last growing steadily in an age of takeovers and fast-changing technological innovations.

"A 60-year-old high-tech industry?," Mr. Hayman asked. "How is that for an oxymoron?"

He said he cared too much about the company to force a succession plan that did not make sense. "It was too good a company to force a square peg in a round hole," Mr. Hayman said.

Stanley Hayman, Mr. Hayman's father, started the company in 1938 with no other initiative but to make a living and work for himself.

In 1983, when Mr. Hayman and his brother Alan bought the company, they reassessed the company's future.

"I'm a change meister," Mr. Hayman said. "I didn't think I could lead the next technological revolution. I was wrong."

After the brothers could not find an appropriate acquisition suitor, they decided to hire more technologically savvy employees, and proposed to Micros, a leader in the industry, their theory of consolidation.

Eventually they reinvested in their own company, growing it to $14 million in nearly 20 years.

"We had this vision," Mr. Hayman said. "And, we explained this vision to Micros." The vision, which still exists today, is based on a "hub and spoke." The idea is to establish spokes or take over small businesses in an area, making that a hub.

The company soon started to grow steadily and the brothers were faced with a decision take the company public or merge.

"The banks would be overly cautious, the venture capitalists would take too much and we knew we couldn't compete with the Internet stocks," Mr. Hayman said. So the brothers decided that it would be in Hayman's best interest to merge.

"I felt that the skills it would take to grow the company did not exist within the family," Mr. Hayman said. "I didn't want to see it go the way of Hechingers."

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