Best Value Copy: Masters of Digital Printing
Starting a Web-based business four years ago has been the right move for New York-based digital printer Best Value Copy, the online division of Red Rose Document Solutions. Founded 23 years ago, Red Rose Document Solutions started off as a legal copying and scanning business that produced work for law firms, as well as printing various short-run commercial jobs for clients in the New York Metro area.
As many long-time customers began to discontinue their printed jobs as their jobs migrated to the Web and no longer were being produced on paper, founder Robert Stokvis, and his son Mark Stokvis, vice president of sales and marketing, decided to create an Internet printing company, Best Value Copy, to offset the decline in their traditional print-on-paper business.
“We used to produce jobs for large pharmaceutical companies, such as reports, doctor’s medical questionnaires, as well as directories, and all types of manuals,” recalls Robert Stokvis. “Once those customers stopped ordering those jobs, we knew we had to adapt our business to compensate for that loss in business.”
Since its outset four years ago, Best Value Copy now offers a wide range of on-demand printing services through its Website. That work includes short-run, black-and-white and color digital jobs in a 24/7 printing operation with a full in-house bindery. Products include flyers, newsletters and bulletins, manuals, brochures, business cards, prospectuses and postcards. The company still produces work for the legal market, including copying and scanning services, as well as coding documents typically employed during the discovery stage in lawsuits.
Embracing an online business model has also helped Best Value Copy reach geographical regions beyond the New York metropolitan area. The company now serves thousands of customers across the country. According to Robert Stokvis, operating a Web-based business is also enabling his company to serve a variety of vertical markets—far more diverse than handling law firm jobs or typically larger digital print jobs that Red Rose Document Solutions had produced for years. On any given day, orders come in from corporations, governments, universities, religious organizations and clubs, as well as from individuals printing various types of personal items.
The Need for Speed
Because of the amount of work coming in, Best Value Copy has had to make adjustments to handle the diverse range of clientele it now serves. For example, it expanded its workforce to 75 employees, and has also added new equipment to handle the influx of quick-turnaround jobs that have been pouring in. With two facilities based in New York—encompassing a total of 30,000 square feet—Best Value Copy operates a fleet of Xerox iGens, Xerox 6180s, Xerox Nuvera 120s, Xerox WCP 90s, high-speed Kodak scanners, various wide-format color printers, oversize blueprint copiers and a series of smaller digital printers for the legal work.
Mark Stokvis joined the company in 1999 when he graduated from college. He started as an account executive, selling litigation copying services to New York-based law firms. When both he and his father decided to launch Best Value Copy, he jumped at the opportunity to direct the new business. “I was so excited to be a part of our new online division. Not only was it a new opportunity for me personally, but also for the company,” he explains. “Creating Best Value Copy was the best way to combat the decline of our traditional printing operation, and we hope that it will enable us to keep that going as long as possible.”
While the growth of the Internet has helped to strengthen the company, it has also presented many challenges. For example, much of the legal work that it had produced over the years has transitioned from paper-based, to electronic, documents and communication. Other challenges Best Value Copy has experienced include competition among other Web-based printers, cutthroat pricing, as well as the high IT costs involved with developing a robust Website and a Web-to-print platform.
Robert Stokvis likens the challenges of starting an online printing business to the California Gold Rush. The amount of work it took prospectors just to find a few nuggets is akin to the amount of time devoted to developing a Website, in hopes of finding new clients. “Web-based businesses have to do a lot of work just to try to be seen, and are forced to spend a considerable amount of money to advertise online through search engine marketing,” he adds. “It is also challenging to get profitable clients due to the very high cost of a paid search. Each time a prospective customer clicks on your ad, you pay a substantial charge, and very few actually turn into orders.”
Looking to the future, both father and son see the trend toward electronic communications continuing unabated, and feel that ink-on-paper will be discontinued in many applications. Robert Stokvis adds that the Internet will continue to adversely affect our industry as technology becomes more advanced, more mobile and more affordable.
“The migration of print to the Web has affected virtually all types of printing, and will likely continue in the future as more companies reduce their need for printed materials, and as the younger generation demands more Web-based information,” he concludes. “Even so, our future will be determined by how well we can manage ourselves through the current economic downturn. We will continue to serve our customers well, and try to come out of it in a strong, competitive condition.” PI