Blue Ribbon: Meridian Receives Honor
Geography may have played a role in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizing Meridian Zero Degrees in Aberdeen as one of its 2011 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners.
“I think one of the things they liked is that we are a technology company that is located in an atypical area for technology,” says Sheridan Orr, vice president of global marketing for Meridian. “A technology company in the Silicon Valley is not a big deal.”
The company, formerly known as Meridian Kiosks, is undergoing a rebranding that underscores its ability to deliver self-service solutions to customers around the world.
“We outgrew our name,” the company declares on its new website. “The new name allowed the company to talk about the fact that, like the prime meridian, it is a 360-degree solution. The zero signified that the company strives to create zero degrees of separation between our customers and theirs.
“We also want to send our units out of the plant with zero defects. Moreover, the name showed that we are truly a global company and a beacon in the field.”
Orr says the self-service industry has become more vibrant as the economy slowly emerges from the recession.
“Demand is growing,” she says. “Corporate budgets are loosening. Self-service is a great way for them to get return on their investment, so we’re really seeing a lot of traction in the market from the big players. It’s an exciting time.”
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, is not surprised to see Meridian garner more accolades in the wake of winning two recent awards: the Moore Chamber’s Small Business of the Year and Triangle Business Journal’s Fast 50.
“We thought it made an awful lot of sense to nominate Meridian at the national level,” Coughlin says. “They were really responsible for completing the application. I’m thrilled that they took the time to invest in that because this is an award with significant recognition.”
In fact, Meridian was just one of 74 Blue Ribbon winners nationwide, and all will be honored by the U.S. Chamber at America’s Small Business Summit next month in Washington, D.C.
“We’ll be there,” says Chris Gilder, founder and chief innovation officer at Meridian. “It was great to be nominated and, certainly, it was flattering for us to win.”
In the meantime, Gilder and Orr will be attending trade shows and entertaining partners and others at the company’s 12-acre campus on South Pine Street, which includes 65,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space.
“We have a lot of technology players coming through Aberdeen to see what we’re doing,” Orr says. “We’re even getting advertising agencies from New York who are looking into our self-service solutions for their customers.”
The evolution is being driven on the demand side by educated consumers who are becoming increasingly comfortable with the improved technology, and businesses hit hard by the recession that are conducting thorough cost reviews to identify efficiencies that can improve their bottom line.
On the supply side, companies such as Meridian are exploring global opportunities and engaging corporate partners to help clients operate more productively and better serve their customers.
“We’ve got a lot of new opportunities,” Gilder says. “The new brand has been very well-received. We’re following up on a lot of leads.”
The stakes are high, because U.S. consumers conducted $750 billion in transactions at self-service devices in 2009, while the retail, hospitality and health care industries invested $3 billion in the technology that year.
But the potential is even greater, because the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that if self-service technology were more widely deployed, the U.S. economy would be $130 billion larger annually.
“Meridian is a company to watch,” Coughlin says. “They’re going to do some pretty amazing things in the next couple of years. We’re proud that they call Moore County home.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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