Changing course Featured

8:00pm EDT June 29, 2006
It was 2002, and it was time for Kent Barkouras to take destiny into his own hands. There was no room for average-performing companies in the printing industry, and the president and CEO of MyPrint Corp. knew he needed to reinvent his company to succeed.

“Being in a highly competitive industry, we had nothing to offer if we were a traditional printing company,” says Barkouras, whose father started the business in 1983. “We developed an Internet-based application for customers to order materials online and to be able to customize those orders.”

The online interface allows users to purchase, modify and track orders with a few mouse clicks, greatly reducing costs and increasing efficiency for both MyPrint and its customers. The change has expanded MyPrint from a traditional print company to include technology and fulfillment aspects, as well.

As a result, revenue increased from about $14 million in 2004 to more than $20 million in 2005, and Barkouras expects it to reach nearly $30 million this year.

Smart Business spoke with Barkouras about how his company’s innovation has benefited both his business and those of his customers.

How does your new business model provide a better value to customers?
It eliminated inventory. It allowed (our customers) to reduce turnaround times. We have almost 2,000 [printing] locations that we work with.

The system can figure out what it is ordering and will look to place and send that order to the closest approved production facility. Whether it’s owned by us or not, it doesn’t matter.

It cuts down on the company’s production time. It cuts down on freight costs because it’s being produced locally. And you end up with the ability to review that activity to make sure that the people are using the materials in the way in which they were intended.

Big companies spend a lot of money on advertising agencies and creative, and if it’s not used the way in which they designed its use, then they’re wasting their money.

How does the process give your clients more control?
We’re able to take a lot of their requirements, organize them in an online catalogue for their users, and whether we produce them or not, we can at least offer them the ability to order those materials from us.

Companies and their marketing managers can now control what can be ordered, they can control the method by which it can by ordered and they also can control looking at the activity and control the customer service portion of that order.

We go out and hit the Fed Ex server and the UPS server and bring pricing information back directly to the user. This way the user can see the direct related cost of the actual pieces they’re shipping.

A tracking report ... lists the orders, and it shows the status of all these orders. So if they want to know where their shipment is because they haven’t received it, they can log on here.

They’re able to control the branded look and feel because our software provides users to customize it to their needs yet maintain the integrity of the branded piece because they can’t alter the graphics of the piece.

Customers are getting a tremendous amount of what we call business intelligence from looking at activity levels and behaviors of their field sales reps and marketing agents. And you can also perhaps change management’s and marketing’s creative by realizing that certain pieces aren’t and will never be used by the field because they’re not desirable, and so therefore, there’s no longer a need to produce those materials.

How do you ensure you are partnering with quality vendors?
That’s where are purchasing and quality assurance department comes into place. We approve every vendor that we work with. The vendors that we are working with are nationally recognized companies that have a strong quality assurance program themselves.

We have a vendor questionnaire that we send out. There’s a vendor audit done every six months. (It) reviews every process that they do within their facility. That would include receiving the raw materials, that would include types of inks and materials that they’re using, that would include whether or not they calibrate their equipment, they measure and test their equipment, that would include inspections during production as well as sampling plans after production. That also includes inspecting their vendors as well.

HOW TO REACH: MyPrint Corp.,