When Kevin Cassis assumed ownership of Whitley Plus, a second-generation family-owned commercial offset printing firm in Austin, TX in 2006, the printing industry was experiencing wrenching changes and on the verge of a major economic downturn. But during the following two years, Cassis transformed his new firm into a full-service marketing and fulfillment-based business broadening beyond its core print offering and gaining international customers. Today, he credits Propago, a cloud-based marketing asset management solution, with propelling the firm’s tremendous growth.
“In 2006 the offset market was severely challenged and I recognized the need to diversify,” he says. “We started to look for new customers outside of Austin in which we could engage in a sales relationship and help them solve their critical marketing asset problems by successfully implementing an e-commerce web-to-print solution. Print could be one component but not the entire solution.”
Cassis made a simple pitch---let us manage, produce, procure, and store your entire marketing collateral catalog, and fulfill it as your end users need it. By seizing this market opportunity, Whitley Plus has become a print partner with a web-based solution saving its customers time and money.
“We needed a web-based solution that was easy on us in terms of workflow and production, and simple for customers to use,” he says. After researching the various possibilities and testing a few, Cassis finally found the best solution in Propago, a cloud-based marketing asset management platform.
Propago's Marketing Asset Management Platform allows Whitley Plus to offer its customers a platform to have complete control over brand, budget, and inventory all while easily sharing and distributing its marketing assets to sales teams, affiliates, franchisees, channel partners or any authorized users. Users can access branded marketing assets, order what they need, when they need it, through intuitive cloud-based marketing portals. With a comprehensive set of web-to-print, production, procurement, warehousing and fulfillment tools, the platform ensures a streamlined supply chain from start to finish.
For example, says Cassis, a St. Louis-based cable company approached Whitley Plus to inquire if it could fulfill orders from its customers that needed a hardware upgrade for faster speeds. The initial conversations were never even about print. The company needed a partner that could handle a high-volume fulfillment project that required shipping 1000’s of orders daily all with unique serial numbers that had to be tracked. Whitley Plus was able to win the business using its Propago solution. Cable company subscribers ask for hardware upgrades electronically and order information is automatically being pushed to the Propago platform. Whitley Plus picks up the order, prints the instructions, packs the hardware, scans the data back into Propago with a serial number and FedEx shipping number, and quickly and easily fulfills the order.
“We’ve found that Propago is extremely easy to use and it differentiates us from our competitors,” says Cassis. “Propago has the sophistication that other systems did not offer. We like the fact that Propago offers a single source of support and that its management team is eager to work with us on new client solutions; we didn’t find that type of partnership with other web-to-print merchants. Propago offered us a low entry price point. We found that its competitors charge massive upfront fees and then impose training costs, only to find that the product is old and cumbersome to use.”
Additionally, Whitley Plus has gained valuable new international customers from Germany and Great Britain due to Propago. The British firm is a leading coloring book publisher that has been fulfilling its U.K. orders on its own. But when its sales took off in the U.S., it searched for a U.S. print and distribution firm to continue its sales volume. “They sell their product on their web storefront,” explains Cassis. “We print, store, and distribute its U.S. coloring book orders in a real-time queue on Propago. When the inventory gets low, we print more. When they need to fulfill orders, we ship them to their customers.”
Recently, Whitley Plus on-boarded a new California customer that had ended a 20-year relationship with its previous printer. The new six-figure order calls for Whitley Plus to print its 326 page coil-bound catalog. Since the contract was signed, Whitley Plus has saved the firm a significant amount of money, helped them to produce a more efficient product, and reduced their turnaround time.
“In the past, this California firm’s product collateral had frequent specification changes rendering their inventory obsolete,” says Cassis. “Now, product managers can make those spec changes as often as they need to, load it to our site, and during the next digital short run, the company can be assured that its collateral is current. What’s more, with Propago, the firm gains great insight into data such as who is consuming what, and can forecast what the next print run should be. We have become their print partner with a web-based solution.”
In the past ten years, Cassis’ vision for his company has developed into a thriving business model. In 2006, Whitley Plus was a 100% commercial offset printer serving the Austin market. Today, the firm derives only 45% of its revenue from offset printing balanced with new capabilities such as digital, large-format ink jet printing, fulfillment and storage, and pick-pack-ship offerings.