Louisville Business First
Despite taking a hit in the summer months, Tom Welter, president of Lang Company, said his office supply business has actually grown during the pandemic, thanks to the digitization of work.
Lang Company offers traditional office amenities like copiers and printers, but also provides digital solutions such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, document management software and managed IT services as well. It is headquartered locally at 540 S. 13th St. and employs 60 people companywide, with the majority of its workforce in Louisville.
Welter said print volumes on the more traditional side of the business took a hit due to the pandemic, especially over the summer. With schools being out, administrators and teachers weren’t making copies of tests and other materials and with offices employing largely remote workforces, those copiers and printers stood empty, too.
He’s expecting pent up demand from those slow months to grow again soon, but what took off in the last year, Welter said, were sales of both the VoIP phone systems and automated document management tools. Compared to the year prior, he said this piece of the business grew by 200%.
He said the VoIP phones allow teams to communicate from their respective work-from-home situations better as employees can take their office phones and plug them in anywhere they work that has internet access. Wherever an office receptionist might be, they can plug in their phone and connect and transfer calls as though they were in the office, Welter explained.
“We switched to the system we’re selling over the summer,” Welter said in an interview. “There’s lots of flexibility in that with not having to reconfigure everything or take messages. I’ve been driving down the road before and someone will say, ‘You’ve got a call, want to take that?’”
He said the company’s document management software allows documents to work through the same flow they would in the office, only it’s all-online and accessible from anywhere. This means teams can all work on the same document simultaneously, if need be, from different physical locations.
Welter said the slow months gave the Lang Company a moment to reconfigure its operations as well, asking of itself what will stay and what will go in the workplace beyond Covid-19.
The company itself celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and in Welter’s own 32 years with Lang Company, he said the thing that’s changed the most in his industry is the evolution of technology.
“Technology has accelerated so much more beyond what it was when I began with the company,” Welter said. “Back when I was first starting, half of our warehouse was just paper. We don’t hardly sell any paper anymore but a few reams. There’s an increased focus now on service and helping people use technology to be more productive in the office. Probably the biggest thing is the pace of change in technology.
Because Lang Company also works in the IT world as well, Welter said it’s not enough to just keep up with the pace of technology either but also to make sure the technologies are secure from cyber attacks, especially in a work from home environment.
Welter said in celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary this year, Lang Company is launching its Do Business Better Challenge for customers. The challenge includes an IT security check, a docu-management and phone cost analysis as well as a re-evaluation of the participating company’s print strategy.
He said if customer companies go through the four categories they can get a $75 gift card to a favorite local restaurant or a $75 donation to a charity of their choice.
“The whole Covid-19 thing did affect our business in a somewhat negative manner, but the overall health of the company is good. There were revenue challenges, but there were a few areas that grew tremendously,” Welter said. “We thank the Louisville community for its patronage over the last 75 years and all of our employees; we’re very blessed to have a loyal workforce.”