Client-focused innovation has driven ProList’s evolution over the past 30 years and remains front and center today.
The OutputLinks Communications Group recently spent time with Dave Lokos, President and CEO, Dave Lewis, VP of Sales and Marketing and Sylvia Taylor, Director of Marketing & Client Relations. The ensuing discussion focused on ProList’s three-decade journey from a data management and mailing list provider to today’s operation as one of the country’s most innovative, multi-platform, integrated marketing service companies. Comments about the company’s client-driven innovation led to the topic of their recent installation of the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 with the latest in UV print technology, and how it would allow ProList to better serve clients with enhanced messaging effectiveness.
ProList has deep roots in the direct marketing world. It has grown through innovative design and development of valuable data management, direct marketing, and postal optimization tools to help clients build and deliver multi-channel messages.
Beginning as a data processing and list management company in 1989, ProList evolved to serve as a trusted manager of client mailing list data, providing direct mailers the data processing services that drove their campaigns. Those early services provided ProList a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that enterprises and direct mailers faced in their efforts to maximize the effectiveness of their messaging investments. To address those challenges, ProList began by developing an innovative method of printing ZIP+4 barcodes on Cheshire labels. That ProList solution, although easy to do today, at that time was a solution that enabled clients to maximize their postal discounts for enhanced profits.
Today ProList serves a broad range of clients including non-profit organizations, special interest groups and cultural institutions who rely on effective fundraising campaigns to support their missions. The company also assists regional and national associations, small businesses and local organizations with services ranging from membership renewals to targeted, multi-channel marketing and outreach campaigns.
Organizations looking to promote themselves and support their missions through effective direct-mail programs, depend on ProList’s innovative services.
In 1993, ProList expanded its services to clients by opening a letter shop to provide mailing services. This new client service was so well-received that a move was required from the original small office environment to a 35,000 square foot facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
With that move, ProList continued to build on their core competencies and began developing online digital services like TrackMyMail.com that allowed clients to better trace their mail through the USPS delivery chain. TrackMyMail.com was so highly valued for its innovative approach to mail management that one of the world’s leading mail management companies, Pitney Bowes, recognized its value and acquired it in 2008.
Innovative technology development continues to propel ProList to develop new offerings to help their expanding client base increase effectiveness and profits.
Growing and Innovating
Both Dave Lokos and Dave Lewis are thought leaders and experts in developing and executing strategies to help clients maximize their direct mail production and distribution efficiencies. They have successfully integrated data management, mail production and distribution, web-based tracking and postal optimization tools, intelligent, high-speed mail matching and envelope addressing with spot color. And their latest innovation is the integration of all those client services with their new Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 UV Inkjet Press.
Dave Lewis: “There is a great deal of pride in the company having taken this cutting-edge step to be the leaders in our industry.”
The ProList team consistently brainstorms with industry experts to identify and build smart solutions to meet their clients’ needs. One of their most significant solutions was a coordinated multi-channel marketing platform that integrates a variety of client touch points to support unified, data-driven, social and direct mail campaigns.
This multi-channel marketing initiative led to the development of a new ProList business offering under the branded name of SnailWorks. Dave Lokos shares, “the initial idea was to create a solution for a coordinated, multi-channel marketing platform tailored for companies in the direct marketing/mailing industry. SnailWorks has since evolved into a separate company that provides multi-channel marketing and mail tracking services to direct mailers and marketers throughout the country.”
Vendors as Partners
Clients entrust the ProList team with their most critical communication needs. By integrating their original team with acquired companies and a selected group of trusted partners, ProList has expanded the high quality of output solutions their clients rely on.
One example is MCS which has been a trusted partner throughout ProList’s thirty-year history. This long-term partnership led MCS Incorporated’s founder Dave Loos to encourage ProList to investigate the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 UV Production Inkjet Press as a strategic client services enhancement platform.
Stepping into Production Inkjet
After the introduction by MCS, the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 team undertook a detailed analysis of savings opportunities to be achieved by producing ProList’s outsourced offset print jobs on the AccurioJet KM-1 Inkjet Press. In fact, enough revenue-recapture was identified to pay for the purchase of the KM-1 Press.
But even more important than the new UV inkjet Press’ economic advantages was that it would provide capabilities to enhance the effectiveness of ProList’s services to their clients.
The AccurioJet KM-1 produces short print runs with the same quality that previously required long, expensive offset print. An additional and significant capability is high-quality personalization.
ProList’s clients benefit from enhanced marketing material options and faster time to market for on-demand, high-value campaigns that help them exceed their fundraising or profit objectives.
Konica Minolta’s Partnership
“In addition to the assistance identifying outsourced revenue-recapture, the Konica Minolta team has been really fantastic through the whole process. They've given us tremendous support as well as technological, operator maintenance and software training. Their technical team was onsite during the entire installation and the ramp-up process.”
When asked what led to selecting the AccurioJet KM-1 Press versus other inkjet printers on the market Dave Lokos replied, “Really the people and the technology. The technology was better than what else was out there. The Konica Minolta team was very accommodating which gave me a great deal of confidence and a high level of comfort. As a high-end piece of equipment, I knew it was going to be challenging to learn how to use it well. But, I was very confident that Konica Minolta was committed to seeing that through. They showed themselves to be a true business partner versus just a printer vendor.”
Bill Troxil, Sr. Vice President, Strategic Business Development at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. stated, “Konica Minolta, the 800th largest company in the world with over 11,000 employees in the Americas, is pleased to form this strategic partnership with ProList - a high-growth, high energy integrated marketing services firm. Konica Minolta brings to ProList its world-class inkjet technology, decades of experience, and rapidly is becoming the market leader in production cut sheet UV inkjet. Konica Minolta’s patented UV ink allows ProList flexibility to offer their customers a wide variety of substrates and independence to produce all their work in house.”
Always Looking Forward
Dave Lokos is proud of the innovative client services the ProList team provides with assistance from trusted partners like Konica Minolta.
“I found in working with the Konica Minolta Executive team, that they really care about whether or not we succeed. They're doing everything they can to help make us a success,” Dave Lokos.
An ending comment from Dave Lewis seems to sum up our discussion very well: “There's a lot of pride in the company that we've built. In our industry you're either growing or you're going out of business. If you're not investing in innovative technology to drive that growth, you're likely to be going in the wrong direction. With our investment in the AccurioJet KM-1 UV Inkjet Press, we've taken a giant step in expanding our leadership in this industry.”
ProList’s client-focused evolution continues to drive the company’s growth to support the success of its clients’ messaging effectiveness with new and innovative technologies.