July 22, 2012 Comments Closed

J.C. Penney eliminating registers, ETMC retools, downtown work

Posted by:Adam Voight onJuly 22, 2012

Original article by Mike Copeland of wacotrib.com

ETMC, which provides ambulance service to Waco, is selling its station at North 18th Street and Lyle Avenue, but is not curtailing local operations. It simply is working smarter and more efficiently.

Spokesman James Stefka said the Tyler-based company began serving Waco in 2003, and at one time had three stations in addition to its headquarters at 1501 Hogan Lane in Bellmead.

But branch locations in Robinson and Woodway have closed, and the North Waco site is on the market.

Stefka said ETMC once served Waco and five other cities in McLennan County with just four ambulances. It now has 14 vehicles, which operate on staggered 12-hour shifts.

No longer do employees work 24-hour shifts, with time for sleeping between runs, so the company has no need for stations, Stefka said.

When not making calls, ambulances with crews park at “posts” around town. The company uses electronic charting and computer-generated data to determine the likely time and place of the next call.

Often, Stefka said, an ambulance already is rolling when it receives orders to handle an emergency.

He said ETMC meets or betters local requirements for response time. He said ETMC has signed a contract to extend local service through 2018, and is spending $400,000 to enlarge its headquarters.

The North Waco station for sale covers about 2,300 square feet. It is listed by real estate agent Brad Harrell. The company will use funds from the sale for its operations.

Roving registers

J.C. Penney, which has a location at Richland Mall, aims to eliminate traditional checkout registers by the end of next year by letting roving employees take payments from customers on mobile devices.

This is the latest effort by the retailer to reverse its fortunes. After a disappointing Christmas, The Plano-based company announced it was moving away from advertised sales and would offer everyday low prices. It reduced clutter in its stores by removing signs and displays, and hired comedian Ellen DeGeneres to appear in ads.

But the moves flopped and J.C. Penney had a 19 percent fall in quarterly sales. It will now attack its problems by having store employees roam with iPads or other mobile devices that have credit card readers attached. Disney stores, Urban Outfitters and Apple already use the technology.

Penney officials said the goal is to make shopping more convenient and to pull customers away from online buying. Oracle Retail is supplying Penney’s checkout technology.

Sleeper face-lift

Barricades and work crews have appeared outside the historic Sleeper Building at South Ninth Street and Austin Avenue. It will get a new facade and new windows on sides facing Ninth and Austin.

“The city has said you can’t have boarded-up windows in parts of downtown, so we’re replacing the ones we had on this building,” Waco businessman Gordon Robinson said.

He and his father, Clifton, manage Specialty Property Ltd. The Sleeper Building is one of its real estate holdings.

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