Celebrating 40 years of digital innovation with our clients

A car pulls past a Dairy Queen drive-thru board.

WAND Digital’s 40th anniversary is a testament to our incredible clients, current and former staff, and partners and the work they’ve done to continue to move the quick-service restaurant (QSR) and food service industry into the future with digital technology. As we celebrate this milestone in our journey, we’re reflecting back at what it took to get here, like confidence in our vision from some of our first customers like Chi Chi’s, Wendy’s, and KFC.

In the beginning, we were system integrators

It all began with a father-and-son duo determined to help businesses streamline operations with technology. John Perrill Sr., who was an electrical engineer by trade, and his son John Perrill Jr., who was in high school at the time, started implementing computer software for video rental stores, hardware stores, and insurance companies to help them more efficiently manage their databases and systems. John Jr. would install and integrate the software, and John Sr. managed sales, accounting, and administration. At this time, their company was called Business and Banking Systems. They eventually changed the company name to WAND, which came from the wand-like barcode readers they later used with point-of-sale (POS) systems to speed up ordering. In 1982, the Perrills had gained momentum and a sizable number of clients and incorporated the business.

A twist of fate

When John Jr. went off to college at the University of Minnesota in 1986, a chance meeting launched WAND into a new trajectory. John Jr. became friends with a woman in class whose father was Jim Crivits. As fate would have it, Jim Crivits was the president of Consul Corporation, which was a large franchise owner of Chi Chi’s restaurants in the Midwest. Crivits had planned to open a fast food concept based on Chi Chi’s called El Pronto. He wanted to know how to speed up ordering at the counter, and this is when Jr. and Sr. created a bar code menu. In 1988, they installed the first WAND-branded software and hand-held (Norand barcode scanner) unit at El Pronto in the Minneapolis City Center. Using the bar code reader, customers’ orders could be entered quickly, in which the data would be transmitted to a computer system in the kitchen using radio frequency. Thus began their focus on quick-service restaurant technology.

Focusing on digital technology for quick-service restaurants

From 1990-1996, WAND continued to onboard more clients, including Long John’s, and at their peak, their technology was being used in more than 2,000 Wendy’s locations. In 1996, WAND entered the touch-screen era, building their own hardware, which looked like a cheese wedge with flat panels and were used for POS systems. In 2007, as the industry moved into wireless ordering for drive-thrus, WAND developed a next generation touch-screen POS system, which replaced the barcode readers. Around this time, WAND also started developing software for indoor digital menus.

In 2009 WAND began to roll out Total Restaurant Management (TRM), which worked to integrate all of a restaurant’s technology and included digital menu software that could be accessed anywhere via cloud-based delivery. Since then, WAND has evolved to be an end-to-end digital menu board solution provider.

John Perrill Jr. continues to lead the company today as chief technology officer, carrying forward a legacy of innovation and a vision for the future of restaurant management technology.

Thank you WAND Digital clients!

Without our clients we would not have made it to this milestone year. Thank you all for your partnership – for sharing your challenges and inviting us in to help find solutions, and for sharing your wins, so we can delight in your growth and success!

We always knew this was a great industry with amazing people, that’s why we invested in it back in 1982. Thanks for steaming ahead into the future of digital menus boards and restaurant technology with us!

Connect with your WAND Digital sales rep for a special 40th anniversary offer 🙂

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