New facility helps Janesville company make good on growth plans
JANESVILLE Mark Bush will never forget the headline over a 2009 newspaper story detailing his company’s plans to build a high-tech data center that could bring up to 250 jobs to Janesville.
“We fill our space,” the headline blared, quoting Bush that the company had historically achieved its expansion goals for new buildings and added employees.
“I said it, and I still think about it every day,” said Bush, chairman of Data Dimensions, a second-generation, privately held company that specializes in document conversion and management.
Two years later, Data Dimensions is on track to make Bush’s 2009 statement a reality.
For the past year, the 20,000-square-foot data center has been operational on Midland Court, a stone’s throw from the company’s corporate headquarters.
The company has added 44 employees and plans to hire an additional 30 to 50 each year for the next several.
Data Dimensions is a vastly different operation than the one incorporated by Bush’s father, Wally, in 1982.
Decades ago, the company focused solely on data capture and keyboard entry.
Today, it has five locations across Wisconsin and Iowa and more than 400 employees who manage more than 1 million images. Its five facilities are located to offer efficient service that ensures redundancies to prevent the loss of data.
“Data Dimensions was a service company that utilized technology,” said Jon Boumstein, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve become a technology company that provides services.”
Data Dimensions serves a variety of industries with digital conversion; data capture, imaging and indexing; electronic and physical storage and retrieval; medical records retrieval; transcription; and digital voice recording and retrieval.
More than 300 work in Janesville, including the 215 who work from home. Those workers previously worked for Home Entry Services, a data entry company launched in 1991 by Bush and his wife, Kathy.
Home Entry and Data Dimensions joined in 2010 in an effort unify the work of two companies, Bush said.
Still lots of paper
Data Dimensions opened a high-security records management center on Janesville’s south side in 2004 that today houses 57,000 boxes of hard-copy data. Expectations are for 15 percent growth in the next six months.
Mike Palmer, record center supervisor, said the boxes include vital records for the banking, financial, insurance, health care and aerospace industries. Each box is bar-coded—as is each shelf—for easy reference.
“There was more paper generated last year than ever before,” Boumstein said. “But we always have to be looking at least five years out and building other solutions.
“We can’t rest on laurels and assume paper will be around forever. Customers will send us info in some form or another, and we will process it.”
Digital and more
The pursuit of solutions has been the driving force in Data Dimension’s growth.
In 2009, it acquired Olim Technologies Group, a provider of enterprise content management software and custom solutions for applications such as imaging and document management, medical records, transcription, digital recording, email archiving and Check 21 processing.
“The acquisition of Olim was huge,” Bush said. “Just about everything we do today has an Olim element to it.”
Essentially, Data Dimensions is three divisions:
-- Business process optimization, which allows customers to outsource non-core functions such as human resources, finance and accounting to Data Dimensions
-- Olim, which in the not-too-distant future will launch a biometrics initiative that Bush said will give the company huge growth opportunities.
-- ddCloud, a suit of offerings at the new data center that include cloud computing, backup and disaster recovery and managed hosting services.
Often, Data Dimensions’ three divisions work together for the same client.
For example, a health insurance company would have all claims submitted to a Post Office box that Data Dimensions controls. The claims come to the new data center, where they are opened, grouped by insurer and scanned into Data Dimensions’ servers, where any number of things could happen.
The health insurer could then use one or several of Olim’s software packages or ddCloud to work with the information, depending upon its needs.
‘High tech in Janesville’
The data center, among other things, processes paper mail that needs to be digitized. The documents—some as small as restaurant receipts—are opened and sent to a document prep area.
From there, the documents move to one of two machines capable of scanning more than 10,000 documents of any size per hour, said Shawna Schultz, chief operating officer.
The new data center, she said, is capable of withstanding an F5 tornado and includes multiple power and cooling redundancies to safeguard data.
Because of a focus on safety and security, the $3 million building cost far more than similar-size buildings.
“A lot of people think that there isn’t anything that’s high tech in Janesville,” Bush said. “We’re doing it here.”
Bush said that 10 years ago, there were a couple dozen competitors within a 100-mile radius. That radius has grown, he said, but the number of privately held competitors has fallen dramatically.
“If we hadn’t made the calculated steps and taken the risks we did, we would cease to exist,” Bush said. “The companies that didn’t do that just can’t catch up.”
Committed to Janesville
When the company contemplated where to build its data center, it took a close look at Iowa, a state known to make incentive-laden offers to attract economic development.
Ultimately, the Bushes settled on Janesville for the project, which didn’t come with taxpayer incentives.
“You could say they overlooked opportunities elsewhere where there were maybe financial gains, but they wanted to impact the community locally,” said John Beckord, president of Forward Janesville. “Mark, Kathy and the company are very generous corporate citizens, and they continue to believe in this community and Rock County.”
Kathy Bush said the investment is about more than community. It’s also about the company’s hard-working employees that help the company succeed.
“We feel responsible to keep people employed and the company growing,” she said.
“So many people are always looking at exit strategies and the almighty dollar,” Mark Bush said. “Businesses need to get back to doing what they used to do and invest in the community and its people.”