John Vogel is doing his part to make the workplace more efficient and – as has been predicted repeatedly over the last two decades – paperless.
He, along with three partners, less than a year ago formed a consulting and services company that focuses on two things: process improvements for small businesses and the scanning of paper documents to digital images that can be electronically stored.
Theres an opportunity here, we decided, Vogel said of his partners regarding their new business, Sequoia Partners, LLC, from his second-floor office at 6919 Lakewood Dr. W.
That opportunity presented itself after Vogel and Scott Walker, now a sales account manager with Sequoia Partners, were downsized out of their jobs in the procurement department at Weyerhaeuser. Afterward, they began doing some small business consulting and scanning.
We joined up with guys in similar situations, Vogel explained.
The companys other two partners are technical accounts manager Chris Medina, formerly of Commerce One, a California-based software provider, and Tod Gilbertson, who handles law firm and small business administration. Gilbertson formerly worked full-time for the Tacoma law firm of Burgess Fitzer, which has retained him as a consultant.
We bring about 80 years worth of combined experience to lend to our clients, Vogel observed of he and his partners. (In addition to the companys four partners, Sequoia Partners employs an additional three people, for a total of seven employees.)
They bring that wealth of experience to helping small businesses become more efficient and affordably converting paper into book-marked, searchable electronic content.
Essentially what Sequoia Partners does is review many of the key expenditures in various areas within an organization.
Phone bills, long distance charges, cell phone plans, personal computers, servers, copiers, scanners, faxes and employee benefit plans are some of the areas scrutinized by Sequoia Partners.
From there, current cost patterns are reviewed, and solutions and options are offered, with the goal of reducing the overall cost of operations.
Clients are provided with a written set of recommendations where Sequoia Partners sees improvement possibilities, or how other firms accomplished similar tasks.
Some recommendations are as mundane as changing a calling plan, while others may be more complicated, such as a change in process or the purchasing of the appropriate computer hardware and software.
Savings have ranged from $400 to $1,500, Vogel said. Its really quite simple.
Clients have included many local law firms, as well as other businesses, such as Contractor Roof Services out of Gig Harbor and Albers & Company, Inc., which is constructing a new building near the Tacoma Mall.
The other focus of Sequoia Partners is document imaging, better known as scanning. Well, not just scanning but high volume scanning.
A document can be scanned at a cost of pennies per page, Vogel said, so customers benefit from getting a cheaper price with more volume.
Were not going to do small jobs, he noted. If its 10 to 15 pages, its not worth our time.
Sequoia Partners handles jobs 150 pages and up, Vogel said, adding the companys biggest job so far has been scanning 120,000 pages.
Scanning documents offers a host of benefits, including faster access to data, the elimination of misfiling, multi-user access, better control of documents and reduced copying and printing costs.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the elimination of the need for storing bulky, cumbersome paper files, which is a space saver.
For reference, a four-drawer file containing 12,000 images can be stored on one CD (compact disc), Vogel pointed out.
He recalled one job for a Pierce County lawyer, where Sequoia Partners converted 22 boxes of legal paperwork into a more manageable three CDs.
From there, she was able to plan her case and develop a timeline, Vogel said.
Sequoia Partners has done large document image jobs for the City of Seattle, the University of Washington Medical School and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Sequoia Partners is working for about a dozen local law firms, Vogel said, and are at various stages in working with a number of Tacoma-based banks.
We see ourselves filling that niche, Vogel said, between turning hard copy into something digitized that can be shared electronically.
Vogel enjoys his work and likes being able to provide his companys services to his clients.
Its hard to give up that big paycheck we used to get at Weyerhaeuser, he said. But its worth it, getting to know the clients. Its better on a personal level.
Excited to be working with this emerging technology, Vogel is optimistic about the future.
As a start-up, were doing okay, he said.
Future plans include growing the business with each new client, he said, and a possible move in a few months to a ground-floor location closer to downtown Tacoma.
The office currently occupied by Sequoia Partners is shared with the accounting firm Lampton, PS, which lets their upstairs neighbors stay rent-free in exchange for scanning services.
Thats kind of a win-win situation, Vogel said, although he noted its no fun carrying large boxes of paperwork upstairs to scan.
For more information on Sequoia Partners, call 253/475-1207 or visit their Website at: www.sequoiapartners.net.