51-year-old Advance Business Systems wants you to know it's moved past typewriters

Aug. 13, 2015

The following excerpt was taken from a feature that originally appeared in the August 13, 2015 online edition of the Baltimore Business Journal:

By Sarah Gantz

Advance Business Systems has been in business for 51 years, so by now its clients know what the company is all about — at least, they think they do.

Advance has adjusted its business services offerings to meet the technology needs of its clients. When Lois and Alan Elkin opened up shop back in 1964, typewriter ribbons and carbon paper were hot ticket items. Then it was fax machines. These days, Advance helps clients manage how information flows through their office through complex IT systems.

But the Cockeysville company’s clients don’t always know that.

 “There’s nothing worse than going into a customer’s office and they want to continue doing business with us, but they partnered with someone else for something because they didn’t know we did it,” said Advance President Jeff Elkin, who is Lois and Alan’s son.

To set the record straight, Advance is launching a marketing campaign that showcases the company’s digital offerings, such as mobile printing, cloud-based services and 24-7 network management. The first ad airs Aug. 13 on WBAL during the Ravens’ first preseason game.


Advance misses out on business when clients negotiate a contract with a separate firm for services they could get from Advance. Elkin hopes the advertisements will strengthen relationships with existing clients once they know all Advance has to offer.

“When we look at what our growth opportunities are, our greatest opportunity is to build deeper and wider relationships with the customers we have,” Elkin said.

Advance has seen steady annual growth and is approaching $40 million in revenue. The company’s client base is a mix of small, medium and large businesses, though Elkin declined to say how many clients the company serves. The company has 175 employees.

Elkin does not think its advertising push will significantly influence the company’s revenue trajectory, but knows that staying on top of the latest technology — and making sure everyone knows it — is necessary for maintaining steady growth over the next 50 years.

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