2019 Best-in-Class Innovator: ProList Moves Beyond the Role of a Traditional Printer
Innovators don’t come to their plants in the morning saying to themselves, “Today, I’m going to innovate.” That’s not what innovation is about. It’s more a reflex than a behavior — a continuous state of mind that leads both deliberately and serendipitously to transformative results.
The printing industry’s innovators are energetic, inquisitive, and intrepid people who don’t wait for things to happen. Sometimes they strategize outcomes. At other times, facing threat or opportunity, they instinctively choose the right course of action. Either way, these relentless innovators always manage to achieve something that lifts their companies to new levels of capability, performance, and profitability.
The accounts of 12 businesses that exemplify innovation in the printing industry came together in the October issue of Printing Impressions. All of the profiles, one of which appears below, are based on interviews with the sources and on their responses to questionnaires filled out in support of their applications to be selected as Printing Impressions’ “Innovator of the Year” for 2019.
“We were never a traditional printer. We were a mailer with laser toner technology,” says owner Dave Lokos, Prior to that, ProList Inc.’s specialty was data management — a discipline that continues to give the company its competitive edge today.
Over the past two years, Lokos notes, ProList has advanced from its roots in data and mail to providing full-service digital print and mail solutions that include traditional direct mail packages, specialty print products, envelopes, and fulfillment. Instead of targeting high-volume work, the company focuses on customized and personalized campaigns in short-to-medium runs: an endeavor that requires seamless workflows supervised by skilled project managers using sophisticated hardware and software tools.
“We just do a better job” than the competition in this end of the market, according to Lokos, who says that ProList’s customers have responded accordingly. “They are more apt to award us an entire project — not piece it out to several suppliers — if they know we can do it all in-house.”
With the help of a pair of Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 sheetfed color UV inkjet presses, ProList has increased the volume of work it can produce internally, while broadening the scope of its product offerings at the same time. Investing in this and other technology, according to Lokos, has produced tangible — and measurable — results. These include cutting the cost of outside services by more than half through July of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018; and increasing average job value by nearly 17% over the past 18 months.
Behind the numbers are practical, result-getting solutions for customers, such as simplifying a sports event marketing campaign in a way that boosted attendance at events for less money than the client had been paying to its former mail service provider.
In a project for a nonprofit magazine publisher, ProList has replaced what Lokos calls “a very stale” subscription renewal program with an automated system that permits on-the-fly copy changes and digital printing in just-in-time quantities.
The true reward of being innovative in assignments like these, he observes, is the confidence and goodwill it generates among customers. That has translated into a business advantage for ProList.
“Our customer base was extremely quick to adapt to going digital for the majority, if not all, of their print needs,” he says. “They have come to rely on our company as a key player in meeting a much wider variety of their direct marketing production needs.”