Sunday, September 17, 2000

Change key to CDCI success

Data processing company looks to constantly improve

By Jenny Callison
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Think about your telephone bill, your bank statement, a personalized marketing pitch by telephone or letter. Each is unique to you, and yet must be produced for only pennies.

[photo] Owner Frank Klan recently moved CDCI's plant to a 150,000 square-foot-center in Springboro. The new plant allows efficient layout of the machinery, as well as an on-site post office.
(Dick Swaim photo)
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        Chances are many individualized bills and other communications you receive originate in the state-of-the-art CDCI plant in Springboro's South Tech Business Park. The company that began in 1966 as Commercial Data Center Inc. is positioning itself to tame the latest imaging and processing technologies and to stay ahead of the curve in the field of direct marketing communications.

        Change resulting in continuous improvement is the mantra of CDCI's owner, Frank Klan. Mr. Klan grew up in the data processing service bureau started by his father. He has seen both evolution and revolution in the industry and knows firsthand the need to pounce on useful new technologies.

        “Everything in this business is money-driven,” he said. “We're very open-minded to change; that's what makes us so successful.”

        In 1998, Mr. Klan sold CDCI to SourceLink, a division of Jordan Industries. He continues as president and has autonomy to run his enterprise as he sees fit, as long as it remains profitable. The capital that resulted from the sale allowed CDCI to invest in facilities and equipment that are speeding the company toward its goals, he said.

        One major investment was the new plant. In April, CDCI completed its 150,000-square-foot center and moved from Miamisburg. (The company's mailing address is still Miamisburg, although the South Tech property was annexed and developed by the city of Springboro.)

        There's now ample space for efficient layout of machinery — essential when working with equipment assemblages that can be as long as 25 feet.

  CDCI's goal is to become a one-stop shop for direct mail programs, from database creation to shipment. Staying true to its original mission, CDCI still provides data processing, storage and retrieval services apart from its printing services.
  The company employs about 150 people, processes more than 500 million pieces of mail a year for both business and nonprofit organizations and generates annual revenues of $21-$22 million.
  CDCI can be reached at (800) 305-9414 or (937) 847-9449.

        The new plant also allowed CDCI to work with the Postal Service. There's an on-site post office staffed by Postal employees who process the mailing pieces produced each day. The material is trucked directly to the Dayton airport and shipped, saving time and expense.

        A tour of the production area demonstrates the magnitude of CDCI's investment in new technologies. For example, two new $4 million Scitex VersaMark modular printing systems produce 5 million 8 1/2-by-11-inch images a day — that's 500 feet of continuous paper a minute. Hooked up to a new splicer, the equipment takes only seconds to hook up and start on a new roll of paper.

        “Now the splicing process, which used to take 10 minutes, can be done in 10 seconds,” Mr. Klan said.

        As the paper whizzes through the printer, ink jets spray one-of-a-kind images onto both sides. Then the paper is cut, folded twice and is ready for insertion into envelopes at the end of the assembly. Inserter machines can match the folded sheets with the proper individualized envelopes at a rate of 500,000 to 1.8 million a day. Another “intelligent” inserter reads bar codes to batch, fold and insert random multiple-page documents such as telephone bills.

        Some of the equipment is custom made to match the capabilities of machines to a client's needs, but most is bought by Mr. Klan, who regularly visits trade shows to see what's new and what's emerging in the high-speed variable printing field.

        “The industry is changing so fast, working toward faster, better, cheaper,” he said.

        Working faster, better and cheaper landed CDCI a year contract from the Social Security Administration to print an annual statement for more than 125 million Americans. Each statement contains the person's earnings record and statements of benefits based on the current account balance.

        Said Mr. Klan: “We're now the largest personalizer for the U.S. government.”

        But the company doesn't plan to rest on that plateau. From the first day that Social Security statements rolled through its assembly, CDCI employees were figuring out how to improve the process so they would win the contract when it comes up for bid again.

        “I invest in equipment and people,” Mr. Klan said, adding that he replaces equipment annually, always buying the best and selling his used equipment to other companies. His intent with employees — retention and development — is just the opposite, but Mr. Klan acknowledges that the pace of the operation is too fast for some new hires.

        “It takes a real hyper person just to keep up in this fast environment,” he said. “But I keep people happy. We have a lot of families working here.”

        CDCI encourages its employees to innovate, rewarding practical suggestions for streamlining and improving quality.

        According to its owner, “CDCI is becoming a larger company, but is still protecting and nurturing its entrepreneurial heart and soul.”


Joseph-Beth adds a chapter
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- Change key to CDCI success
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