Little did Document Solutions of Springfield Inc. co-owner Greg Tigges know that a college presentation from a Xerox representative would lay out his professional path for the next four decades.
Tigges says while the program, which included printing transparencies on Xerox equipment, dates him a bit – he graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1982 – it grabbed his attention.
“She was putting them on this projector, and I was like, ‘This is cool.’ I started with them right when I graduated,” he says of his career’s origin selling Xerox products and supplies.
After a dozen years working with the company, Tigges says the leadership suggested he launch his own Xerox sales agency in Springfield. He saw it as a compliment and challenge to move and do business in a new market. Challenge accepted.
Tigges and his wife, Lisa, moved to the Queen City and launched Document Solutions in 1994. The local shop in Plaza Towers sells every product of the Xerox line, including printers for offices and production facilities, digital presses and scanners. While Tigges says he can sell anywhere, he generally keeps the sales focus in a 12-county portion of southwest Missouri.
“I’m really the only true Xerox outlet in southwest Missouri,” he says.
In recent years, Document Solutions has expanded its equipment roster to include HP printers, laptops, PCs and flatscreen interactive monitors. The additional offerings are meant to diversify options for customers, not supplant Xerox sales, Tigges says.
“The core of the business is really with the Xerox stuff. But if someone is looking for those solutions, I would have the capabilities to sell them,” he says, noting Xerox products comprise 97% of sales. “You don’t cut off the hand that feeds the mouth.”
Document Solutions serves as the local sales engine for Norwalk, Connecticut-based Xerox, which provides the service and software for the equipment, Tigges says. Most of the products sold range $5,000-$15,000, but Tigges says he doesn’t engage in upselling
“I want you to make the educated decision for your own business because you know your business better than anyone,” he says.
While Tigges acknowledges at this stage of his career he could sit in his office and let other salespeople handle the clients, that’s not the way he wants to do business.
“Everybody knows my number. I’m involved with the clients,” he says. “It gives me a better understanding of what they’re doing, what they need.”
As another sign of company longevity, Tigges estimates Document Solutions has worked with close to 50 of its 400 clients for over 20 years. Some work in education and government fields, while others are in manufacturing or commercial printing, he says.
Largent Printing Inc. is one of those longtime clients. Sharon Largent, who co-owns the full-service printing company with husband Bob, says they’ve been a Document Solutions client since 2002.
“We’ve bought several different presses from them through the years,” Largent says, noting the most recent purchase is the Xerox Versant 180 digital offset printing press.
These can be expensive decisions, Tigges says, noting the Xerox V180, which no longer is sold new, previously retailed for around $62,000. Refurbished models can be found online, ranging $21,000-$30,000.
Largent says Xerox is a good brand but service from Document Solutions is what has kept her company loyal for the past two decades. She recalled Tigges dropping by their printing facility just to check on them one Saturday night after he attended a nearby event. On another occasion the company hand-delivered a new hard drive after normal office hours to replace one that had crashed that day.
“Those are the kinds of things that make you a loyal customer,” Largent says. “We’re still with Xerox because Greg stands behind us when we’ve got problems and helps resolve issues.”
Present and future
Revenue for Document Solutions was $2.15 million in 2021, a slight bump from the previous year as the company recorded a temporary sales dip amid the coronavirus pandemic. Supply chain issues have been ongoing, Tigges says. As of mid-July, the company had 144 units backordered, which he says is roughly a six-week turnaround.
“We’re waiting for them to get delivered but we have that many machines signed that we’re just waiting on the equipment to come in,” he says, noting a typical backorder in years past is no more than 20 units.
The company hasn’t had to deal with angry phone calls, as supply chain issues have plagued so many industries the past couple of years, Lisa says.
“The customers understand because there’s so many other things they’re probably waiting on too,” she says.
With 28 years in business locally and 40 years selling Xerox equipment, Tigges says he occasionally hears the retirement question from others. He’s not ready to, though, as he still enjoys the day-to-day challenge. However, Lisa adds they have three grown children and five grandchildren, so family time also is important.
“If it ever gets to the point where I hate it or whatever, I’ve done enough time,” he says. “What’s next? I view it as life. None of us know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“Anyone that really knows me knows I’ll die and have Xerox on my tombstone.”
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