By Amy Schmiedeshoff
Tech Valley Times
March 15, 2005- RENSSELAER, NY --- One of the Tech Valley’s best kept secrets is a thirty-two year old software development company headquartered in a quiet residential section of this riverside city. Although unknown to all but a few in the local business community, this firm is a market leader in its chosen niche, with an international client base to prove it.
Vision Data Equipment Corporation is a major player in the newspaper industry, developing proprietary applications that automate the circulation, advertising and accounting departments of middle market publications. Currently, over 1,100 daily and weekly papers throughout the US, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands are using at least one of the firm’s solutions.
Former General Electric company man Tom Dempsey set up shop in 1973 as an old school card punching and custom coding shop. A chance social encounter three years later with the owner of the nearby Hudson Register Star resulted in a small contract to develop a system for tracking the paper’s single copy sales and returns. From that point on, Vision Data has been focused solely on that single vertical market of the newspaper industry.
Tracking the delivery of each and every newspaper that falls off a printing press is an accounting nightmare for a publication of any size. Some copies are destined for mail subscribers, so labels must be printed. Others are handed off to and army of carriers for individual home delivery, while still more are loaded onto trucks for drop off to stores and news racks. Each paperboy, cigar shop and coin box must be treated as a separate vendor, with varying wholesale pricing and return policies throughout the operation.
This is the problem that Vision Data’s flagship “Circulation Control” application solves. Each vendor is set up as an individual record, and draw-accounting takes over with full financial and management reporting. The critical ‘ABC Report,’ required by industry watchdogs and advertisers, is generated as part of the process.
The most interesting aspect of this software is its physical production of bundle wraps - single sheet reports that are attached to each carrier’s and dealer’s delivery bundles, alerting them to their total draw for that day as well as any changes or alerts. For example, a delivery person may be told that Mrs. Smith at 12 Elm Street is on vacation for the week, and has put a ‘hold’ on her subscription until her return.
With a good portion of this tedious record keeping now unburdened from newspaper staff by the automated system, creative circulation managers can turn their efforts to utilizing the same system for increasing the actual sales of the newspapers. For example, if monthly reports are showing that the box on the corner of Broadway and State Street is consistently showing a sold-out status, then sales are likely being lost. The logical decision would be to add more copies into that location.
In addition to solving this circulation challenge, Vision Data also offers modules for managing the ad-billing, classified listing and backroom accounting aspects of the business.
When asked by a visitor why his company tends to remain under-the-radar locally, Dempsey replied that, “ I never really marketed the firm; I merely built the company.”
That building continues: Dempsey and his forty-seven member team are constantly busy upgrading their systems to meet both market demand and technological shifts. In 1997, they introduced Vision Total Advertising, the industry's first integrated classified and display ad “taking and billing” system utilizing a single database. This application, which now has over 150 installations, has been a major factor in strengthening the firm’s position in the competitive newspaper industry.
The recent introduction of an ASP (Application Service Provider) version of their integrated system further highlights Vision’s technical prowess. With the central server located in their Rensselaer facility, clients from California to New Jersey have already signed on.
A local observer that is familiar with Dempsey’s business commented that, “you could walk into the publisher’s office of any newspaper in America and mention Vision Data, and you would get a knowing glance in return.”
As with similar firms that are serving a vertical international market as opposed to a generic local one, Vision Data certainly has a reach that defies its low-key hometown image.
About Vision Data
- Vision Data Equipment Corp
. offers advertising, sales management/CRM, circulation management, online marketing, pagination, retail layout and ad tracking solutions for media groups including Pioneer News Group, Shaw Media, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc and Community Newspapers Inc. With more than 3,000 local newspaper publications relying on its solutions, Vision Data
offers self hosted, SaaS and IaaS solutions designed to meet each newspapers budget. Their motto – Strong Accounting Driving Marketing provides the platform of quality accounting systems designed to increase market share and streamline overhead. Visit our web site at www.vdata.com