Speaker encourages overcoming obstacles, leading innovation to students

Alexis Wohler

Founder, CEO and President of Vanguard ID Systems Rick Warther, came to Kent State Friday to present a lecture on “How to become a ‘Solutioneer’ Entrepreneur”.

Warther said he enjoys searching for creative solutions to problems, and doesn’t stop trying to find the solutions to problems.

Warther said he set up the company Vanguard, in Philadelphia PA, in 1987, because it seemed like the most promising of locations visited, in order to start his patenting business. He is a former graduate of Kent State’s Communication Studies program, class of 1979. He also created the first bar-coded membership identification card. He also invented the first bar-coded key tag.  Warther has patented more 20 bar-coded, magnetic stripped and radio frequency or RFID transaction devices.

He said motivating and persuading people to find solutions to technology problems is critical to the work he does in his company Vanguard.

“As I have met with alumni of the College these past couple of months, the importance of entrepreneurship and knowing how to protect creative work is a topic that comes up a lot,” said Dean of College of Communication and Information Amy Reynolds. “Rick has a wealth of expertise and experience in this area, and I am grateful that he is willing to share his knowledge with Kent State students.”

Warther said he invented the first barcoded key tag, because there was never enough room for “just on more card in your wallet”. People were either changing purses, getting new wallets and would always forget the cards that they needed until they were at the store. So, he wanted a solution to solve customer’s problems. That’s why he created the first bar-coded key tag, to fit on anyone’s key ring, in order to scan something while making a purchase at any store.

Warther also had become the first person ever to laser print on plastic.

“People thought I was crazy, because they thought there was no way I could put plastic through a laser. It was frustrating, and there were many setbacks,” Warther said. “It took me six months to finally accomplish it, but once I did it, it felt awesome.”

He has now sold more than three billion key tags worldwide.

In his advice for entrepreneurs, he said it’s important to get a nondisclosure contract and a non- competition agreement signed by employees when hired.

He also told the audience of faculty and students to always keep contracts in a safe place, and to never have the contracts out in the open for people to take back their agreements.

Warther told the audience he was an avid researcher, and calls the right people to help him continue to develop the solution to whatever obstacle he may be facing.

“The bigger the problem, the better it is,” Warther said in explaining his motto for business.

He even developed a system with the key tags, that allows people to track their baggage at all times when they go to the airport and check in their bags on a trip. The bar coded key tag system that he invented, will tell them where their bag is, when it is coming down through to the baggage claim area. The system will even tell them which baggage claim their bag will be available at.

Even if the people are waiting for their bags at a certain terminal number and their bag gets delayed, the system will ask them what hotel they’re staying at, and bring their bags to their hotel, when it arrives at the terminal.

“Rick is an innovator,” Reynolds said. “His inventions and his company are great examples of the global success our students can achieve with their CCI degree. We are excited to welcome him back to campus and learn from his many accomplishments.”

Alexis Wohler is the CCI reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]