AutoMail’s Jonesboro-based Document Output Center hits milestone

by Paul Holmes ([email protected]) 721 views 

AutoMail's Jeremiah James, Lisa Golden and John Travis.

Chances are you’ve recently received a utility bill, a statement from a medical provider, a bank statement or other time-sensitive communication in the mail or electronically, but aside from looking at the numbers, you’ve probably given the document itself little thought.

There are literally millions of chances that the paperwork was generated by Jonesboro-based Document Output Center (DOC), an entity that manages the print-and-mail process for client companies seeking to save money, effort and time on their mailings through statement outsourcing. Among the types of businesses for whom the company handles mailing are utilities, healthcare, banks, telecommunications, government and insurance. Its services include bill customization, data processing, and printing, e-delivery, advanced inserting and mailing services.

Document Output Center recently reached a significant milestone in its decade in business, but did so with little fanfare. DOC in January prepared, sorted and mailed 3 million pieces of mail for its clients.

DOC did so most likely without the recipients having any idea that the statements from their banks or other businesses in Arkansas, Alaska, Guam or elsewhere came through a firm based in Northeast Arkansas.

“We think we’ve got something pretty special here that nobody knows about,” company owner Steve Smith said.

DOC, a division of AutoMail, LLC, often delivers two truckloads a day of mail to the U.S. Postal Service from the Jonesboro location on behalf of its clients, said Jeremiah James, CEO of AutoMail. DOC also has an operation in a St. Louis suburb.

Smith said the company prides itself on being nimble. It possesses the ability to develop software according to the needs of its customers.

A decade or so ago, James said, “As the economy started changing, they (banks and other large mailers) started looking to outsource not just the mailing of their statements, but the processing of the material they were having mailed.

In the case of banks in particular, James said, “during the recession some were having a hard time hitting their earnings expectations. Community banks were under a lot of pressure and they in turn put pressure on us” to help them streamline their operations and save money through outsourcing.

AutoMail’s history illustrates how the business and company have evolved to meet their customers’ needs. In 1993, Smith became involved what was then the new technology called check imaging. Banks using digital imaging could produce monthly statements containing images of customers’ checks on standard sheets of paper rather than the checks themselves.

The next year, Smith founded a mail fulfillment business and with other senior management founded and operated a marketing business with banks as their core customers. As certified “business partners” with the Postal Service, the company could offer their large mailing clients to bring their mail to the post office pre-sorted and in return, the Postal Service would reward the large mailers with postage discounts.

In 1999, Smith founded AutoMail and developed AutoMail software for banks. AutoMail was then and, the company says, remains the only mail automation/manifest solution composed of proprietary software developed, maintained and supported by one company.

A manifest mailing system is an automated, computer-supported system that allows a mailer to document postage and fees for all pieces in a mailing paid via permit imprint. Such systems eliminate paying postage with stamps or a postage meter.

“Our deep relationships benefit our customers. We’re able to craft solutions others are not able to do,” said Smith.

“We don’t have a junior programmer,” James added.

Smith said the company has 31 employees taking care of truckloads of customers’ mailing needs in whatever form those needs take. With designers on staff, the company can improve personalization and presentation of customer communications, has the ability to optimize the entire workflow from design through delivery, using preferred delivery channels whether it’s mail or electronic media, Smith said.

In addition to the staff, Smith said he’s fortunate to have a good leadership team in James, plus director of marketing services John Travis and chief operating officer Lisa Golden.

Travis was with the firm for 15 years before going to MailMaster, a company that was sold to Master Printing several years ago. Travis rejoined AutoMail in early 2020. James was with AutoMail from 2003 through 2015, returning in 2018 after spending three years in the cyber security field. Golden, a Weiner native, worked as a software developer and an IT manager before joining the company in 2014.

The company has developed an asset verification system for banks and is looking at the development of an AutoMail solution for handing certified mail.

James points to the entertainment content provider Netflix as an example of how companies must always be ready to respond to their customers’ needs.

“We used to rent DVDs from Netflix. Now they’re streaming their own content,” he said.