NEWave: Celebrating Two Decades of 20/20 Vision

A great deal of change can occur over the course of 20 years. Twenty years ago, people were still using dial-up Internet, waiting minutes for a page to load on a large, bulky desktop computer. Today, we can harness the Internet from thin air, and it takes about half a second for a new page to appear on a wireless device we can hold in our palm. Data held in boxes upon boxes of files and records—enough to fill an entire room—can now be stored on an external hard drive no bigger than a sandwich. The pace of the gaming industry’s development has picked up from the slow and tentative steps of the late 1980s to a race that has spread like wildfire across the states. Twenty years ago, NEWave was founded and established, and in the midst of all these changes, the company has endured as a leading provider of software solutions for casinos, seamlessly evolving along with the ever-changing technologies, while maintaining the high standards of software and service originally set in 1993.

NEWave employees in the year of the company’s founding—1993.
NEWave employees in the year of the company’s founding—1993.
How It All Began
The seeds for NEWave were planted in the early 1990s when Jim Bach approached Richard Favero, friend and gaming industry veteran, with the initial idea for the company. Bach had already been in the industry for a number of years and was often stuck with the tiresome job of managing the records and paperwork. “Usually there were boxes—banker boxes—stored in the warehouse and shoved in a corner someplace with nice cobwebs or mice, or stuff that you didn’t want to see when you looked in a box for the first time in a few years,” he shared. “So I thought, there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

When selecting a partner to help develop his idea, Bach knew that Favero’s numerous years in the industry would be an asset and, better yet, he knew that Favero shared his views on quality customer service—something that is still considered a core aspect of the company. On June 1, 1993, Bach and Favero founded NEWave with the aim of making casino operations more efficient by putting data on digital storage, instead of microfiche, microfilm or paper. While this is still one of NEWave’s main processes today, the company’s reach has expanded, and today it helps casinos all over the United States streamline audit, cage, compliance and document management functions.

Other companies like NEWave have sprung up over the years, but NEWave is known as a long-standing player in the game, drawing a certain distinction from its age. Clair Rogers, senior vice president of sales, stated that the company has been around about four times as long as its oldest competitor. Having been in the game for so many years, NEWave has been able to make a name for itself—one that is easily recognizable within the industry. This, Rogers explains, is one major factor that helps set NEWave apart from its competition. “There are four different categories of differentiation,” he told us. “The first is duration. We estimate that more than 20,000 users have been trained on our software over our 20 years, and when you think about that, that’s a lot of users. Second is location. We are a U.S.-based and -focused casino productivity and efficiency software supplier. We think that our installation base is about four times the customer base of our nearest direct competitor. Another key differentiator is our staff. We believe that we have about five times the staff of any direct competitor. Lastly, but probably most importantly, is customer support. We’re seeing competitors that are outsourcing or eliminating their support. Ours is 24/7/365 call center support. “

There is no doubt that these four aspects contribute to NEWave’s current success, especially the last one mentioned. NEWave’s commitment to excellent customer support and service has propelled its growth and made it a stand-out name in the industry. “In the end, it all comes down to the customer,” Rogers shared, when asked if he had a business mantra. “We think the future is all about relationships, and relationships are all about trust. So that’s why we’re continually raising that bar—the bar on trust.”

Considering the number of customers NEWave serves, it is easy to wonder how the company manages to successfully cater to the specific needs of each. Rogers explained: “We listen. We sit down with our clients, treat them like partners and work to understand the best we can give. The highly configurative nature of our software products provides advantages to our customers because we can link the specifics that they may be looking for.”

Constant communication with its customers also provides NEWave with the feedback it needs to improve its products or processes. It’s all about being able to see their products with their customers’ eyes to determine what changes need to be made. As Rogers tells it, products can always be improved. “Software is never perfect,” he shared. “We acknowledge that from the start, and we’re constantly working on our products.” NEWave customers benefit from any advancements made in software as they get enhanced product releases with no charge. So it’s a win-win situation for both customer and company.

All NEWave employees are adamant that their main objective is to increase customer satisfaction. “We look at our customers as our greatest assets,” says Rogers. “Our future growth is going to depend on the service we deliver, and our core philosophy is that a customer has to feel valued. Then they’re going to come back for more. Our goal here is also customer retention.” And there is no doubt NEWave is doing something right. Station Casinos, the company’s very first client, is still a loyal supporter. How’s that for customer retention?

Jim Bach, founder and chairman
Jim Bach, founder and chairman
Richard Favero, founder
Richard Favero, founder
Tom Bechtel, chief operating officer
Tom Bechtel, chief operating officer
Clair Rogers, vice president sales
Clair Rogers, vice president sales
When the Growth Began
Few companies ever hit the ground running. It is a combination of hard work, determination and a willingness to evolve with the times that creates a recipe for success. This is particularly true for NEWave. When the company first began, it was a very small operation. “We were only about three or four people,” Bach shared. “We only had two marketplaces as there weren’t as many casinos at the time. We were using other people’s technology to process this document storage. Now, most of the technology is all ours.”

So when exactly did all the growth begin? Bach said that it happened around the eighth year in business: “This was when we started specializing our software more—what it did versus just storage of documents. We had to say OK, who’s creating the document and why are you creating it on paper? And if you are, can we capture it sooner, process it and then store it, versus storing it after it was all processed and completed?”

It was just around this point in the company’s development that current COO Tom Bechtel joined the team. “I started back in 2002 and I was actually the eighth employee to be hired,” he shared. “We have 32 employees today.” The fact that the number of employees at NEWave has quadrupled in just a little more than 10 years speaks volumes about the company’s development. So do the changes in their job descriptions.

When Bechtel began working at NEWave, he was a jack of all trades. “I was hired for sales,” he said. “I was hired for training. I was hired for helping in development. You know, just anything and everything.” His job has evolved over the years and he can now focus on running the support and training departments. Bach, reflecting on a typical day in the initial years compared to today, shared: “Back then I did everything from cleaning, to the windows, to emptying the garbage and answering phones. Today my job is more meetings and paperwork, digitized, of course. Today I have more time to focus on our customers and ways to make our service even better.”

Jobs and duties are not the only things that have changed over the years. The company’s software creation processes have also undergone a dramatic transformation. “Let me say this,” Bechtel told us, “when I was hired, there was one programmer. Now we have seven people on the programming staff, a couple of database people and a couple web people. It’s just so different.”

And the evolution continues. NEWave is currently developing a new training website that makes it easier for casino employees to receive training on their compliance software. Initially, the company had created a compliance trainer program that casino management personnel could use to create their own training courses. However, it was rarely used. Bechtel suspects that people were simply too busy to put in the time required to use and understand the program or update the training modules. Now, the company has put the compliance training on a website with videos and voice instructions. NEWave can continuously update the program’s content as laws change. Employees receiving training via the website can even get a certificate as proof.

Today and Beyond
Looking at where the company is now, NEWave employees feel a strong sense of pride. This is especially true for Bach. “The biggest goal we had back then was to take this new technology and show our industry how to implement it and how to use it—a very simple goal,” he said. Even he didn’t expect the levels of growth and expansion the company has seen since its inception or the niche it has carved out for itself in the gaming industry. He explained: “We thought that we would be outside of the casino industry and doing other things because we didn’t really foresee the industry being as big as it is. Back then, we had Nevada and Atlantic City and that was pretty much it. Now our focus is largely all on gaming.” Rogers—the newest addition to NEWave’s management team—witnessed the company’s growth even before he began working there two years ago. He voiced that the transformation over the years is quite remarkable and he is pleased to be a part of the team during such an exciting year.

From the outside, NEWave’s rise in the industry today seems reminiscent of a magical tale (a small and previously unknown company achieves great success, establishing its name as a brand), but those on the inside know this all came through hard work, sacrifice and commitment—fairy godmother and wand not included.

Today, all the company’s executives are proud that NEWave is recognized as a leader in what it does and seen as a company that is a partner with its customers. Bach told us: “The knowledge that our customers are still with us, like Station, makes us so proud. More and more, we are starting to be recognized as a long-term business partner.” And this milestone year is not without new business, as more and more casinos begin to turn to NEWave.

While not at liberty to reveal all the details on their newest customers, Rogers was able to share that their first customer does plan to expand their business relationship. He foresees that NEWave will continue to increase its customer base and continue to grow over the next few years. Bach agrees. “I think the company will continue to evolve over the next 20 years,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I see in our future.” There is no doubt that NEWave’s foresight, vision and adaptability will ensure the company will continue to help casinos see clearly well into the future.

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