A Case Study

Developing strong business relationships with thelab

Leveraging Xinet®, DALIM, and third-party technologies, IO Integration (IOI) has helped thelab create efficient workflows and build additional services that have established strong business relationships and fueled growth.

The Challenge

thelab is a privately owned digital capture, creative retouching and pre-press company headquartered in a 14,000 sq/ft facility in New York City. Founded in 2002, thelab has maintained a highly creative focus and employs some of the most accomplished commercial retouching artists and technicians in the industry.

In addition to operating a retouching academy, thelab has also partnered with a number of advertising agencies in New York & LA to create a network of ‘insourced’ services. thelab was working with Xinet® WebNative® and Xinet® FullPress solutions, but felt they were not getting the level of service they expected. “I had been in charge of retouching and prepress companies in the past, but never felt that our integrator was as supportive as they could be. We were a five-person retouching prepress company, and needed a full service partner. Part of our challenge with our previous integrator was not integration-it was an understanding of the needs of a small, entrepreneurial organization,” explains David Bridges, president of thelab.

Shortly after they met in 2002, thelab became IO Integration’s first client on the East Coast. Besides helping them fine-tune the necessary hardware and software ‘backbone’, such as adding archiving software, RAID storage, backup and security, IO Integration took the time to understand thelab’s business model. IO Integration then deployed a DALIM TWIST workflow to automate redundant tasks. DALIM TWIST allowed the small staff to work more efficiently, which meant more time for billable work, and greater capacity to serve more clients.

The Solution

thelab’s Xinet® and DALIM workflow also helps maintain strong customer relationships. Rob Pepe, Director of Manufacturing, explains, “By allowing clients to work directly through our server, it has reduced the number of calls and email messages we receive from them. When they need a low resolution or PDF file, they can easily access the system and get it themselves. We still have to process the job, but by getting clients involved in the workflow and accessing the server, it makes us more efficient turning around work-and it develops a good partnership between our customers and us.”

Today, with a staff of over 65, thelab continues to expand its client base and build services, all around the Xinet® and DALIM Software backbone. “We’re different than a newspaper, catalog marketer, or printer. IO Integration spent the time to learn who we are, what we do, and our quality expectations,” comments Bridges. “Our expertise was in retouching and prepress; not with servers, workflow, and security.”

As thelab continued to grow, IO Integration’s next task was to link thelab’s new Los Angeles office to their existing server in New York City with a virtual private network (VPN). This was extremely important, because users in LA needed to access thelab’s DALIM Software workflows hosted on the NYC server. Bridges estimates this VPN saved his company $300,000-400,000 in hardware, software, and training costs. “IO Integration could have sold us a new system for LA, but they chose to leverage our existing technology so we could use that money for other growth initiatives,” comments Bridges.”

The Benefits

“IO Integration is not just a vendor or someone we rely on for typical integration service. We trust and rely on IO Integration as a strategic partner to help us make the best technology investment decisions. We know that with IOI our backs are covered, with Xinet®, DALIM Software, FlashNet, Apple, SGI, or any other solution,” says Bridges. “Together, we push the envelope of product performance. Nothing is too far out there. They’ll give anything a shot to find the most effective solution, even if it doesn’t exist-yet.”

“thelab and IO Integration have grown our businesses together, and we maintain meetings on a regular basis because they continue to play an important role in our growth,” Bridges concludes. “Our reputation is on the line. That’s a big deal for us – and IO treats it that way.”


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