Phone of the Day: Nortel T7100 Ultra Foods Highland Indiana

Back when my family moved to Munster Indiana in 1984, we had went to the local grocery store with the lowest prices Ultra Warehouse Foods, a relatively new concept that opened in 1981 in a former Topps discount store that closed in the mid 1970s.

The store was busy with forklifts pallet ing around merchandise throughout the store. At this time in 1984, their phone system wasn’t anything impressive. They had 1a2 phones at the service desk but had 2 line Aiphone marketcomm intercoms throughout the store. I can vividly remember one guy being paged constantly “Bob Osuda line one” or “line two.” Out grandmother went by “Baba” so we used to wonder if she was actually being paged!

By the late 1980s the Aiphone intercom system was definitely insufficient with the amount of activity that went on in this busy store. You could only have two voice paths plus overhead page to utilize communication throughout the entire store. If both intercom lines were taken, then you would have to barge in and tell the other person to get off the phone.

So around 1991, Ultra updated to a Comdial Executech phone system. To replace the 1a2 Aiphone setup.They had single line digital telephones all over the store with extension numbers, so each phone was technically it’s own line, so the overcapacity 2 line situation was solved. Plus you could pick up external calls on any one of the phones in the store. The paging was much crisp and modern than on the Aiphone sets. This system suited Ultra for years, even during a major remodel in 1996.

Then sometime in the early 2000s, Ultra updated to a much more advanced Nortel BCM or Norstar system. I’ve never seen what system is on the backend but it’s one of the two . The single line Comdial Executech sets were appropriately replaced with Nortel T7100 single line sets. The service area phones are T7316 sets. The paging is used constantly and sounds clear and crisp over their speaker system. What’s interesting is that the left side of the store over the open case cooler area, has these cone like 1960s style stainless silver loudspeakers, still in use and sound remarkably clear.

Here is the T7100 near the front door of the store.

If you want to see a store that relies on their Norstar system to be reliable and efficient, this is the location to see it. And I still hear Bob Osuda paged to this day 🙂

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