Wilen Group: Big Data, Bigger Profits

Clockwise from top, the Wilen family: Darrin, Kevin, Richard and Corey.

Wilen Direct’s four-color Kodak Prosper 5000XL digital web press is a key component for the production of highly personalized direct mail campaigns.

An operator inspects output from a computer-to-plate system.

Wilen Direct specializes in manufacturing direct mail for the retail, financial and telecom sectors, to name a few. Four-color, variable data digital printing has been virtually raised to an art form as marketers have grown their databases and learned to harness the power of “big data,” as Darrin Wilen terms it. This enables more targeted, personalized mailings as marketers look to get more and more out of their campaigns while using fewer stamps, so to speak.

“We find different opportunities in delivering creative solutions for our clients, always coming up with new strategies and products and, along the way, finding more efficient ways to produce work for them,” Kevin Wilen states.

A key driver of Wilen Direct’s ability to translate big data into solid returns for its clients came courtesy of Kodak, which recently equipped the printer with a Prosper 5000XL digital four-color web press, as well as Prosper S-Series imprinting systems, which were installed on Wilen Direct’s fleet of web offset presses. Kevin Wilen points out that his company’s longstanding relationship with Kodak, coupled with a level of quality that exceeds customer expectations, were keys to selecting the Prosper technology.

Future equipment acquisitions are expected to support the Prosper gear, particularly additions on the finishing end, according to Kevin Wilen. “Four-color variable technology, from a press standpoint, is far more advanced than what’s available on the finishing side,” he says. “During the next 18 months, we’ll be implementing a lot of different finishing technologies.”

Founded as a publishing firm in his basement by Richard Wilen in 1972, the company has endured repeated paradigm shifts. The firm acted as a publisher for the cable television industry and had the distinction of producing the first HBO guide in 1973, topping the 12 million booklet mark at its apex. In the 1980s, Wilen produced programming booklets during the height of the pay-per-view phenomenon.

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