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Translating Bigelow's Technology Needs Into Understandable Investments

With an RFID project looming, data marts proliferating and a new Web-based order entry system up and running, Bob Dupree has a lot brewing at R.C. Bigelow Inc., maker of Bigelow Tea in Fairfield, Conn. The IT director for the family-owned, $85 million firm recently added a new task to his to-do list: wiring up a new tourist destination. The Charleston Tea Gardens on Wadmalaw Island off the coast of South Carolina -- the last tea plantation on American soil -- reopens under Bigelow ownership after Labor Day. The gift shop will feature a new point-of-sale (POS) system, a LAN with high-speed connections for credit card processing and three flat-panel screens as part of the tea-growing tour. "We're a manufacturing company that does direct marketing," says Dupree, so dealing with POS systems and the visiting public are both firsts for the 300-employee tea maker. Given the size of his IT staff (six full-time employees), he turned to Charleston Telecommunications Consulting to handle the new island outpost.

The most strategic part of Dupree's job, however, is translating the company's technology needs into understandable investments for David and Eunice Bigelow, the 70-something son and daughter-in-law of founder Ruth Bigelow. "It's my job to help [the Bigelows] understand technology," Dupree says. "Mr. Bigelow himself is very interested in our Business Objects software and data warehousing. He can run the reports himself and see what teas are selling the best." That would be green tea, thanks to the herbal health craze.

Maryfran Johnson, is the founding editor in chief of CIO Decisions. To comment on this story, email

This was last published in August 2005

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