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Strand takes another try at high-tech world

Leader-Telegram - Business Section - May 30, 2004

Michael Strand's career testifies to the peaks and valleys of high-technology business, as well as the ever-present hope it offers for the future. The Boyceville native started StrandWare in 1988, built it into a multimillion-dollar software business with 48 employees, and put up a handsome glass office building in Sky Park to house it. StrandWare offered software that printed bar codes. But in 2001 he sold StrandWare to Teklynx International of Milwaukee, which promptly cut the Eau Claire presence from 26 to 10 employees as it eliminated duplication, Teklynx communications director Melissa Utschig said, Teklynx still has sales, marketing, development and quality assurance operations in the old StrandWare building, she said. Strand, meanwhile, has put the 42,300 square-foot glass office building in Sky Park up for sale for $2,89 million. The building has four tenants, including Teklynx, and is about half full.

"I've had to let go of a lot of things the last few years," Strand said. But Strand, who initially did consulting work after selling StrandWare has started a new company called Online-Kiosks.Net. It provides companies and easy way to display messages at kiosks with computer monitors, for the benefit of customers and employees. Customers go to the Web site and log in, where they can type in the messages they want to display even from a remote location.

"One of the big advantages is you can be at home and change the information." Strand said. The messages are flashed at kiosk monitors. A bank could display interest rates on a kiosk in its lobby, a brokerage could display stock prices in its waiting area or a grocery store could display store specials.

Strand has no paying customers yet, but a few are trying out the system to help work out the bugs, he said. Online-Kiosks.Net, which has its offices in the former StrandWare building, hopes to hire more people soon. "We're working on getting everything that customers need there." He said. "It's been a good learning opportunity. I wanted to learn Web server development."