Horizons Expand for Alternative Products
Increased demand for other products and services reveals an industry transition.
Though products and services other than forms, such as warehousing, document management, e-commerce and software, may not appear to be a major part of distributor sales—they ranked fifth in percentage and total sales among BFL&S's Top 100 Distributors—they are certainly a vital part of distributor business. So much so that without such products and services, many distributors believe their businesses would depreciate. The reason, they say, is because more clients are requesting sophisticated networking systems, thus diminishing the need for so many forms and increasing the demand for other products.
That is the reason Bellefontaine, Ohio-based RATH Information Systems has started promoting forms technology more than forms themselves. According to President Dean Horn, if it wasn't for the Internet and telephony systems he offers his clients, business would have decreased.
"We made the decision six years ago to offer a digital telecommunication system, which involves video conferencing and voice systems. We also installed computer systems, which helps with document management services," he said. "As a result, technology-related services now account for half of our business."
As Horn sees it, RATH needed to upgrade its offerings since most clients are now Internet- and DSL-connected. "A lot of people are exposed to this technology and it is the way they do business today," he said. Right now, he added, larger organizations utilize these services because their return on investment is great. "For a small- to mid-size company it is hard to justify a high-tech product like this until smaller packages are available," Horn added.
Currently RATH handles county government work with long-term service contracts, which incorporates its latest venture—document imaging, a software product that Horn said is in great demand.
Laguna Hills, California-based Altec is another company promoting high-tech software.