Lee Borns is the Vice President and 2nd. generation owner of Borns Group, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA. Borns Group has grown over the years and experience that customers demand becomes more demanding. As he says, this changes the philosophy of printing/mailing more; it’s about printing/the mailing smarter. To get the business operating as efficiently as possible, the company continues to invest in new technology, from new presses to smart software. One of the partners is Solimar, who delivers software enabling the Borns Group to create more innovative solutions. In this film, we get the opportunity to hear from Lee Borns about how Solimar supports their business.

The software in general has done everything we have wanted it to do. It has really been a big foundation of moving our business in the direction in the future that it is going right now. We started in 1991. My father started the organization. We expanded to Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1996. And we still have a production facility in Watertown, South Dakota. And in Aberdeen, South Dakota as well. You know, we started as a mail pickup service. And then, you know, through the years we expanded into two other services in our industry. We had bought a company in Boston in 2012. So, we still have a couple employees there. And then we have a sales office in Minneapolis. And then we have some more remote employees throughout South Dakota. 

You have a lot of history but what kind of company is Borns Group today? 

The mail pickup service is definitely still part of our business. And we pick up between Aberdeen, Watertown, South Dakota, Millbank and Brookings and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And we still do that daily. But over the years, you know, we have grown much more. We got first into statement printing. You know, we have grown over the years to other industries. You know, working with credit card companies, water companies, medical billing. And we really got into nonprofit work as well. 

Is it a very competitive market? 

The industry is more competitive now than it’s ever been. And rightfully so. I mean, I think clients are, you know, asking for more all the time. I think it’s really made it to where you have to step your game up. And put out the highest quality product possible. And do that on a daily basis. Because our clients are depending on that. You know, it’s our job as our organization to make our clients look good. You know, and the main thing that we’re looking at is always ROI. And getting that the best return on investment possible. And we talk a lot about not mailing more. But mailing smarter. 

What was your growth strategy and why did you invest into Inkjet? 

We were definitely looking at a couple of different ways of growing our business. And I think you can grow a business, or I feel you can grow it through two ways. Sales and your current client base. And be able to provide more. You know and keeping higher client retention. And that was one of the big reasons we chose inkjet was from a consistency standpoint. From color and whatnot. Before what we would have to do is preprint the shells. And they would take a couple of days to dry. And then they would come up to our Aberdeen location here. And then we would laser print in black and white, you know. So definitely it has changed very much. You know, the jobs that used to take days now take hours. And the jobs that used to take hours now take minutes literally. 

What considerations did you have before choosing a workflow solution? 

So, the inkjet press that we had chosen was a VC400000. And we chose that for numerous reasons. But like I said, we did a very extensive search, and it took about a year. And we are choosing the RICOH solution. They did have some solutions for us. Because at the time we were all PCL based. And that was one of the main goals we wanted to get to was a PDF driven print stream. They had supplied some different options for us for really keeping that PCL print stream. And we were looking really, like I said, to move to a PDF workflow. 

Was it a smooth transition workflow? 

You know, anything like that is a process. And, you know, no matter what. Like inkjet is such a different technology. You know, at the end of the day, we only knew what we knew. But I think we had made some good decisions from RICOH. And to partnering with Solimar. We already knew we had the RICOH solution. And after the Inkjet Summit – you know, we had already decided we were going to go with Solimar. So, then it was kind of a roadmap of putting it out there and figuring out how it was going to flow. Obviously, when you’re going to live production, you’re learning and finding out what you don’t know. But it was a very good learning curve. You know, it’s been a great experience overall. 

Are the new investments doing well for your business? 

You know, I think from a quality control standpoint, you know, keeping quality consistent and the same every single time we print something, is very important. And it’s really opened the door too, you know, for some new opportunities I don’t think that we would have had in the past. You know, with the inkjet, you know, the quicker turnaround times. You know, it’s definitely been a been a plus for us. And I think probably one of the main things, too, is, you know, some clients that…. We’re always preprinting lots of different stocks but that has been eliminated now. And changes are very easily done, especially with the Solimar software. 

Was it easy to implement your existing customers into the new workflow? 

Yes and no. Some of our clients were able to easily implement because it’s not maybe just one-off jobs. Postcards that are pretty easy to push through the environment. But others, some of our larger clients say, were more of a hurdle if you will. To kind of make sure everything’s there with colors. Make sure the data is there. Everything’s being extrapolated correctly. So there was hiccups for a few of them. But Solimar makes it really easy for us to get the data we need quickly. And use it, use it down the line for what we need it. 

How does Solimar help with your type of work and clients? 

A great example. We had a job come through where we had presorted data for a customer. And we had sent a presorted data back to the customer. And they decided to remove records from this presorted file. So, it might be to the tune of 10 percent less than what we sent them. They used that file to build and rip the print file and send it back to us. Which then at that point nothing matches for paperwork or any other kind of qualification. So, what we did was take the actual print file they sent us and created an index for it and essentially built a process or workflow that would extract the data from the actual print file. Export out that data. Then we can use that data to presort back with NBCC. So, using the power between the two to kick the files back and forth. We can basically bring the presorted file back into Rubika. And then it basically sorts. And we can take care of the actual presorting. And make it work for our customer. Make it work for us. Before that would have been hours, days of essentially having a team reorganize, resort the mailing. So right there just doing that several times a year we see the benefit in the power of Solimar. 

How was the learning process? 

At first, it was pretty overwhelming. Because there’s a lot. But, yeah, the more we worked with it and we had awesome technical support. The manuals that they provided; everything was very easy to understand. It was a pretty simple process. I think the most difficult was incorporating it to the printers in a way that the printers were going to be able to read it. And where placements needed to be for their cameras. I think that was probably the most time consuming of the whole process for switching. 

Is processing speed better or comparable to previous? 

Yeah, I think it’s pretty comparable. If not a little bit faster than some of the other platforms we’ve used in the past. Or building print files or even pre-sorting jobs. I think they’re all kind of right there of what kind of horsepower we can get from the PC itself. So, I would say yes. And definitely a quick product for sure. 

Do you find it easy to use Solimar software? 

For me personally, it’s extremely easy. I am used to coding and everything. So, it’s great to have a platform and API, so to speak, where we can make and fine tune every single adjustment that we need to. For example, breaking apart if something’s 14 inch or 11 inch, legal or letter size, based on pixel count. You know, before that would have been something that we had to write up ourselves with Java or whatnot. And now it’s something that we can just define really easily with either user variables or actually built-in variables that the software provides. So, I think a kind of bridge is the best of both worlds. Our brain and Solimars brain. And in the end, the customer sees it. And that’s the best part. 

Having the ability to view things within those documents that we couldn’t before. And actually, manipulate colors and all of these other things that we were never able to do before. I’ve been working with Adobe products for a couple of years, and it seems like every day I’m still learning something new. And now that we’ve incorporated Solimar into our process, there’s a whole other world of things that we can do. Things that we weren’t able to do before. Which has been really, really great on my end. It makes my job so much easier. 

How do you feel about Solimar’s support? 

You know, Solimar has has a great support system. We’ve worked with Melissa and Greg, you know, for our initial setup of some of our custom jobs. You know, and also too you know, it is just they have a plethora of information online for the Solimar University. We’ve worked with lots of different software companies over the years. And we’ve never seen the information. What Solimar can provide in the online university.

I believe at the beginning, Melissa and Greg were extremely important with helping us. Not only understanding the software, how it works, how it flows. But using one of our larger clients as the example was a great not only way to help set up the job the first time, but also using that job as a teaching tool to understand things. Because that particular client is almost full encompassing with everything that you can possibly do. From colors to presorting to breaking out to everything. So, it was really great to have Greg and Melissa’s support. Extremely helpful, extremely friendly and very quick as well. So greatly appreciated. 

How is the relationship with Solimar?

You know, the software in general has done everything we have wanted it to do. Like I said, has really been a big foundation of moving our business in the direction in the future that it is going right now. You know, the relationship is great. You know, I work with Marianne and Jonathan and the rest of their team. And they’re just absolutely amazing to work with. Great, great people in a great organization.