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Business Profile: Office equipment company links volunteering, marketing

Lynda Baumgartner likes to help local not-for-profits and charitable causes on a regular basis. In fact, she considers the volunteer work and contributions that she and her husband, Steve, provide to be a large part of the unconventional marketing plan they’ve adapted to their company, Image Technologies of Missouri.

“We’re trying to do some things that are really different in marketing,” Lynda said. “We’ll do anything from donations to volunteer work to trade.
Besides employing non-traditional marketing techniques, the Baumgartners, who founded Image Technologies in 1995, take pride in setting themselves apart from the competition in many ways, like renting out equipment.

“People just starting out in a business usually don’t have a lot of money to buy and won’t necessarily qualify for a loan or leasing,” Lynda said. “They can start by renting until they feel more stable and can purchase or lease. I don’t know of any other business like ours that rents.”
She said Image Technologies is one of very few companies that have demo rooms.

“So we don’t sell you something that we don’t have technicians available to repair,” Lynda said. “Everything that we sell is here, and you can come and see it work in our showroom. That opportunity is very rare. There’s just something about showing a person how big it is, what it really does, the production end of it — I think people really enjoy having that access.”

The extensive display area of Image Technologies showcases the variety of copiers/printers, postage systems, fax machines, and various paper management systems that are available to the professional office. Steve and Lynda Baumgartner sell their support services along with premium equipment made by companies like Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Hasler and Muratec.

“We like to say, if you have a piece of paper, we can take care of it,” Lynda said. “Whether you want to fax it, print it, scan it, fold it, mail it or shred it.”

Before starting Image Technologies, Steve had worked for 23 years for a small Columbia-based company that sold office equipment. It wasn’t until the company was sold and reorganized that Steve decided to leave and start his own company. At the time, Lynda was a schoolteacher and took care of their three children, who are now grown.

It took about two years to organize and get the financial support that the Baumgartners needed, but by 1995, Image Technologies of Missouri was open for business just two doors down from its present location on Business Loop 70. Initially, Steve hired his brother to work full time with him in the new business. Eventually, Lynda came on board, and now the company employs 18 people.

“We knew going into it that it was going to be slow steps forward with hiccups in between,” Lynda said. “When 9/11 hit we went through about a year of slow business. People were afraid to invest in anything or make a move forward. During that time we had to dip into our savings to keep things going. We’ve never had to let someone go due to cost cutting. We think long and hard before bringing in new staff and sometimes work ourselves to the bone before making a decision to hire.”

Over the past 12 years, Image Technologies has established itself very well within the community. It recently won a bid to provide the state of Missouri with all of its low and medium volume postage equipment.

“It’s our first state contract ever,” Lynda said. “It took us nine years to get, but we’ve done small jobs for them over the years and they’ve seen that we’re dependable and can deliver.”

Lynda also said relationships with small companies are important. Having a variety of contracts diversifies the business, providing the balance that is necessary for day-to-day operations and reliable profits, she said.
As an ongoing commitment, Image Technologies works hard at helping the local community. Lynda and Steve sometimes donate copiers that have been traded in and are also in good condition.

“We do a trade of copiers and service with the Missouri Symphony and give the concert tickets to our customers,” Lynda said. “We’ve given copiers and service to Access Arts. Our staff works for the Voluntary Action Center, and we all bowl as a team for charity. I love that kind of work. If I could just go and do volunteer work all of the time, I wouldn’t even come to work. I end up getting a lot of my ‘backdoor marketing’ from working in the community this way. You can’t pay for that kind of marketing.”

Lynda said that she is currently looking for a traded-in copier for Coyote Hill Children’s Home.

“Sometimes I’ll end up connecting someone who is looking to get rid of a copier and someone who needs one,” she said. “It’s just a simple way you can help the community. There are institutions in this town that are worth working for like that.”

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