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Investment firm uses Bond scenario to introduce miniature projector

Van Kampen Investments chooses Epson for large sales force

It's not much bigger than James Bond's codebook and shines as brightly as the laser cutter on his watch. Tucked away in what appears to be an ordinary briefcase, it's the technological "weapon" of choice for a man on the move. Its name is Epson, Epson PowerLite, and it goes on the road with over 100 sales representatives from Van Kampen Investments every day, all over the country.

Van Kampen is one of the nation's largest broker-sold mutual fund groups. Rather than selling directly to investors, the firm's sales force talks to investment brokers and the brokers in turn recommend their products to their customers. As the company's Information Technology Relationship Manager, it's Dave Gorka's mission to come up with IT solutions that help make Van Kampen funds attractive to brokers and investors alike. It's a job that takes time, travel and technology.

Having heard grumblings about how much the sales force has to carry, Gorka decided the best way to understand their problems was to travel with one of them. "I offered to carry her equipment," he says, "which at the time included a three year old projector that weighed 15 pounds. It didn't take me long to realize how ridiculous it was!"

Gorka and Maurice Murray, a technician support specialist, compared the size, weight and performance of several different projectors before deciding on the Epson, which was recommended by United Visual's Paul Solarz. Van Kampen wholesalers frequently do marketing presentations to help brokers understand the firm's product line. A clear, crisp image is essential. "It's really important that our people have the right equipment to do the job," says Gorka. "We needed a reliable unit that would work in both large and small rooms where you can't dim the lights."

Weighing less than six pounds and small enough to fit in a briefcase with a laptop and hardcopy handouts, the Epson still delivers a bright, clear crisp picture, even in well-lit rooms. Setup is a simple matter of plugging it in. Gorka also liked the unit's remote control, which acts as a cordless mouse during computer presentations. After making his choice, Gorka found a unique way to introduce the new projectors to the sales force.

"We had a year end sales meeting, and we were doing a skit in which I played a character like "Q" from the Bond movies. I ran on stage in my lab coat with my briefcase and in just minutes pulled out my laptop, palm pilot, and projector, set it up and did my whole routine. They were extremely impressed."

Since putting the projectors to work, the applause has continued. Although training and troubleshooting are always a part of United Visual's package, Van Kampen sales people have yet to need either. Gorka says he was impressed by the amount of support and follow-up available. But you won't find any hidden gadgets or eject buttons to push on this projector. It's straightforward and simple to use. Good things truly do come in small packages.