Don't expect to find veteran entrepreneur Robert A. Yellowlees behind his desk days.

The recently appointed chairman and chief executive of Atlanta-based National Data Corp., one of the nation's largest credit card transaction processors, ins crisscrossing the country. He is calling on customers to drum up some business for a company whose core financial services business has not grown lately.

Extra Title on the Door

As planned, when L.C. Whitnet retired as chairman, Mr. Yellowlees replaced him. But he also took over as chief executive officer from O.G. Greene, who resigned. Mr Greene was hired less than a year ago as president and CEO.

Mr. Yellowlees, 53, founder of two companies in the burgeoning fields of telecommunications and data processing consulting, is charged with boosting National Data's revenue. The company posted $229 million in revenue for 1991 but expects it to be flat this year. Last year's total was down sharply from 1990's $276 million because of the loss of a $50 million contract with US Sprint.

In addition to heading up National Data, Mr. Yellowlees will continue as chairman of his most recent start-up company, Spectrum Research Group. He has been on National Data's board since 1985.

He took on the new responsibility because "I thought the company had enormous potential."

One area he wants to build at National Data is health care payments systems. The company derives about 75% of its revenue from financial services companies through such activities as transaction processing for credit cards and on-line tax reporting. But in the fastest-growing part of its business, National Data markets point-of-sale services to pharmacies and other health care providers.

"There's some overlap between these two sides of the business, and one of our opportunities is to manage these points of overlap," he said.

Mr. Yellowlees graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in engineering. Next came three years with the Navy, including time designing command-and-control systems in Washington.

An IBM Veteran

The ex-lieutenant began his business career in 1960 as a sales representative for International Business Machines Corp. In 1982, when he left, he was heading worldwide product management for personal computers, midrange computers, and software.

In the late 1960s Mr. Yellowlees was marketing consultant in the company's corporate headquarters. There he helped oversee IBM's move from package pricing of hardware, software, and services into separately priced products.

Mr. Yellowlees left the computer giant to catch the rising tide of the telecommunications industry, starting American Telesystems Corp., Atlanta, which develops and markets integrated voice and data network systems.

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