Lakeshore Document Services acquires Century

August 14, 2009
| By Pete Daly |
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NORTON SHORES — Lakeshore Document Services of Norton Shores has acquired Century Microfilm Inc. of Grand Rapids and will relocate that business to Lakeshore headquarters.

The acquisition will allow Lakeshore, established in 1995 by owners Garry and Charlotte Olson, to add microfilm-based records management to its services.

"Adding microfilm services allows us to expand our offerings and go statewide," said Garry Olson, who is company president. The company now has more than 20 employees and does more than $1 million worth of business annually, he said.

Century Microfilm, a 25-year-old company located on Leonard Street in northwest Grand Rapids, was founded and owned by Dan Twardowski. He is nearing retirement and consequently sold the business to Lakeshore. According to Olson, Twardowski will continue to serve as a consultant to Lakeshore.

Century Microfilm has clients throughout the state, while Lakeshore had focused on the West Michigan region, with most of its business coming from a five-county area. Lakeshore clients include several municipal and county governments.

"We store hard copy and do shredding and document imaging. We did not have microfilm capability," said Olson. "Now we have the ability to film, duplicate film and convert microfilm into digital images."

He said that some people assume that microfilm is a relic of the past, but "nothing could be further from the truth." Different methods of storage are appropriate for different types of documents, and microfilm remains a good way to archive documents for a long time, he said.

"Everybody thinks microfilm is old technology, but as records managers, we know there is no one best way to handle documents. Mirofilm still offers some significant advantages for archive-quality documents. Good quality film can last 500 years," said Olson.

While Lakeshore specializes in storing and managing documents, it also sells computer software and Web management services that allow clients to do their own document scanning and electronic management at minimal cost.

The new trend in document management is known informally as "cloud computing," which "allows people to get into document management with very little capital cost or experience," Olson said. "It allows small organizations to take advantage of the latest technology."

Storage of electronic documents on a secure server is convenient because the owners of the information can access the documents from any remote location. Olson noted, however, that in the past that has required the organization to own the server and purchase expensive software for storing sensitive documents. In "cloud computing," an organization pays a fee for storage of its records on a remote server at a secure data center. "You don't own the software, you only pay a monthly fee, so you avoid the high capital cost of getting in — and you avoid the IT (maintenance) cost," said Olson.

"It gives organizations the ability to go paperless or become digital, without a lot of the high cost."

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