First Edge Solutions, a leader in integrated multi-channel communication, print and document management services, celebrates its eighth anniversary this year with continued innovation and expansion. Starting with just one person in 2003, First Edge now has two communications manufacturing facilities, four office locations and nearly 100 employees. The company has built a strong offering in full service multi-channel and customer relationship marketing, as well as complete enterprise-level document management. As a result, First Edge provides a unique and comprehensive suite of solutions, from growth- and relationship-oriented communications, to data-intensive, highly regulated business communications.
“Every day customers impose tighter deadlines, while still expecting high quality and superior service. Because of the way we have built our company, we can move their content faster than anyone else, whether that’s an insurance EOB or a high-impact, personalized mailer. As the industry continues to shift towards better digital output options, the First Edge Solutions model proves itself every day as the future of print, document management and integrated marketing communications in our global economy,” said First Edge President and CEO, Robert Kraft.
Highlights and Accomplishments
Consistent innovation, outstanding service and visionary thinking have marked the company’s first eight years in business:
Strategic Growth through Acquisitions – Strategic expansions started early with acquisitions that delivered new core competencies, such as proprietary software development capabilities that complement a robust operation platform. This growth immediately propelled First Edge Solutions to become one of the largest digital print communication firms in both Wisconsin and Arizona.
Most recently in 2011, First Edge acquired the TAKA Group, a full-service marketing and design firm in Scottsdale, AZ. Renamed the FE Agency, this addition expands First Edge capabilities to bring clients full service marketing from creative and campaign development to execution, with closely monitored ROI. “I’m excited to be part of an industry leading company that stays ahead with new technology. I’m looking forward to leveraging the new, combined services to bring greater value to our clients,” said Aaron Kilby, former Managing Partner of TAKA Group and now Senior Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services for FE Agency.
Meet-Meme Social Media Trading Cards – First Edge developed customized social media trading cards that bring users’ online personas to the offline world and expand networking efforts with an engaging extension of their personal brand. Each customized trading card connects on a deeper level than traditional business cards or expensive high-tech devices. Scanning the card’s QR code or entering a personal URL instantly transports the viewer to a digital version of the Meet-Meme trading card, with links to preferred social media communication channels. People can immediately connect across online and offline spaces such as email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, blogs, personal websites, telephone, snail mail, and other places in the user’s profile. More information can be found at www.meet-meme.com.
Multi-channel Communications Services – First Edge offers a rich, multi-channel approach that gives clients the communications mix that best suits their goals, from trusted paper-based materials to convenient digital delivery. “With a full communications supply chain, we are independent of what happens in the content space, because we deliver customers’ content using almost any channel,” said Kraft.
Marketing-On-Demand Product Suite – One of the newest services is eGencee, an online marketing agency or "e-agency." Using economies of scale, this one-stop, on-demand marketing solution provides affordable, high-end personal marketing. The cornerstone of eGencee is agency-quality, template-based marketing materials designed for effortless personalization. The system will offer web-to-print postcards, eCards (email postcards), eNewsletters (email newsletters), and VideoMail (email with imbedded video clips). “The goal of eGencee is to be the personal marketing department for each company using the system. It’s ideal for specific market segments or distributed sales networks for large corporations,” said Kraft. The first eGencee launch targets the loan originator market and can be seen at www.theloanmarketer.com.
Suite of Custom Software – First Edge has developed its own sophisticated suite of communications supply chain software. These include web-to-print storefronts called Ordernet, and Watchdog data validation software that protects data integrity for insurance and healthcare clients. This suite of custom software helped First Edge attain HIPPA compliance.
Powerful, Automated Communications Supply Chain – One secret of First Edge success has been turning automation into a competitive advantage. From front-end creative and campaign development, to heavy-duty data processing, high-quality digital printing, and immediate fulfillment, First Edge has built a complete, automated process. “We don’t sell print; we sell communications. Supply chain solutions and print are just part of that equation. We leverage technology efficiently to integrate across all steps, from the front end to the back end,” Kraft explained.
An array of workflow automation software manages clients’ recurring work. “We believe in a ‘lights out’ approach and minimizing the need for people in processes. We love people; we just don’t like people in the middle of processes,” he said. “We write code to eliminate manual steps, and this helps guarantee customer satisfaction through speed, accuracy and quality. It’s one of the key reasons why we’re growing double digits in a recession.”
“Turn on a Dime” Print and Fulfillment – First Edge has become known for meeting tight turnaround agreements. For example, one customer can submit orders as late as 2 PM, and their service level agreement requires First Edge to print, fulfill and ship across the country that day from multiple plants. These locations allow them to split national work, maximize equipment time, accelerate time to market and decrease costs for clients. The facilities have been optimized for shipping on demand as well. This efficiency in shipping logistics saved one client over half million dollars in one year.
Roster of National Corporate Clients – Through its unique service offering, multiple locations, and complete communications supply chain; First Edge has attracted loyal clients, mainly in retail, education, manufacturing, health care, and insurance, among others.