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Richard Edmonson

BY CSA STAFF

Richard Edmonson, 61, would offer the following advice to budding entrepreneurs: Beware potential potholes. “Before committing to an entrepreneurial endeavor,” cautioned the CEO of Ridgeland, Miss.-based engineering company SkyHawke Technologies, “one would need to understand that rewards come with high risks. In that regard, entrepreneurs should make a realistic assessment of their applicable competencies and their commitment to a long road of potholes and blowouts.”

While Edmonson, like most successful entrepreneurs, has likely skirted a few potholes along the path to success, he has clearly found firm ground in the development of innovative positioning systems that enhance the golfing experience. CEO of SkyHawke Technologies since 1998, Edmonson observed a gap in the market for a positioning system (for recreational use) that could benefit from the rapid advances in wireless technology, the Internet, GPS and handheld devices. The company previously developed a GPS system for golf carts, then leveraged this experience and, under Edmonson’s direction, created the SkyCaddie, a personal GPS system about the size of a cell phone, for use by golfers on any course in the world. Heralded as the world’s first digital golf caddie, the hand-held SkyCaddie measures distance on a golf course using the same global-positioning system used by the U.S. military. It was the invention of this device that Edmonson feels was key to the company’s success.

“Leveraging our core competencies in the expected convergence of wireless devices, GPS and the Internet, my partners and I developed a solution to answer one of the oldest and most common questions in the popular game of golf: ‘How far?’” he said. “By being first in the market, we established our brand and built a barrier to entry against competition with a proprietary database of golf-course maps. We were also fortunate to have selected a receptive consumer market of 50 million golfers who seek ways to improve their game.”

CEOSkyHawke TechnologiesRidgeland, Miss.Annual sales: Not availableType of business: Manufacturer and online retailer of positioning systems for recreational use; hallmark product: SkyGolf SkyCaddie, a rangefinder for golfers.Areas of operation: 45 countries

Summarizing his, and his company’s, success, Edmonson said, “Innovation, speed to market, branding, creating barriers to competitive entry and commitment to quality have made our company No. 1 in its category.”

SkyHawke Technologies has no bricks-and-mortar stores; its products are sold via resellers and through its own Web site. The signature prod-uct—SkyCaddie—is used on more than 16,000 golf courses in 45 countries around the world.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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