Issue: September 2006 Issue
The Paper Chase
After 35 years, file folder system manufacturer Jeter Systems Inc. still sees a bright future for the old-fashioned paper file.
Born and raised in Akron, Jack Jeter worked for B.F. Goodrich and then Firestone before he left the tire and rubber industry to join a file folder equipment manufacturer in downtown Cleveland.
â€œI was 21 years old and all of a sudden I was doing business with the Federal Reserve Bank and Cleveland Trust, and other big business people who were buying stuff from me,â€ Jeter says. â€œIt gave me a great sense of accomplishment.â€
Jack Jeter, President and CEO of Jeter Systems Inc.
Jeterâ€™s confidence with a large corporation prompted him to start his own company, which would later become Jeter Systems Inc., in 1971. After 35 years and having moved to two larger facilities, Jeter Systems is now located on the site of a former Firestone tire factory in Akron, where it has grown to 150 employees in a 150,000-square-foot headquarters.
Initially launched in Clevelandâ€™s Playhouse Square, Jeter started out as a dealer, buying filing equipment and systems from other manufacturers and selling them to firms in finance, banking, law, health care, government and insurance.
â€œIn the first couple years of business, Cleveland Trust was more than 50 percent of my business,â€ Jeter says. â€œBut that was a time when they were also the largest bank in Ohio and just moved into their new tower in downtown Cleveland.â€
As Cleveland Trust changed owners over the years, Jeter diversified and increased his sales to physician businesses, hospitals, urgent care, surgical centers and plastic-surgery centers. Due to the growing demand, Jeter decided to start manufacturing his own equipment, expanding his market.
â€œWe were no longer restricted regionally by manufacturers who told us things like they would only like us to sell their stuff around Ohio, but we canâ€™t go over to the Hoosier state,â€ Jeter says. â€œWe could now cross those lines.â€
Seeing growth in the paper-heavy health care industry, Jeter marketed his filing systems at regional and national conferences for every medical specialty.
â€œWe used to hit orthopedic, dermatology, dental, surgical, optical, whatever it was, we were there,â€ Jeter says. â€œWe became known as a primary supplier of these products for those specialties.â€
Despite more health care providers making the jump to digital medical records, such as University Hospitals Health System, which announced last month the implementation of a new $2.5 million Internet-based record system for its 11 hospitals and 15 outpatient facilities, Jeter says there will continue to be a strong demand for paper records – and the files that hold them.
â€œThere are certain places where people have found cost-effective ways to eliminate paper, but I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s any different than what Iâ€™ve been encountering for 35 years,â€ Jeter says. â€œMost copiers in offices still copy papers, most printers print papers â€¦ people will always be signing things on paper.â€
Even so, this summer, Jeter launched an electronic archival service for its customers. The added service will extend the life cycle of traditional hard files and free up file space for active record keeping, Jeter says.
â€œI do believe there is a revolution underway,â€ Jeter says. â€œThe question is will we be able to find niches in marketplaces where what we do is still relevant, and I believe we will.â€
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