If the best predictor of future success is past performance, you can be assured Harland Clarke will continue to expand its value proposition for financial institutions of all sizes. Formed in May 2007 from the merger of Clarke American and John H. Harland’s printed products and marketing services segments, the new Harland Clarke has a tradition and commitment to maintaining best practices and bringing forward the best of its shared services and solutions.
“And we are not stopping at best-of-the-best,” says CEO Chuck Dawson. “In any combination, we are looking to create new value with a new class of products and services.”
Harland Clarke’s track record includes more than 200 years of combined industry leadership and a focus on helping financial institutions better serve their customers and members. Today, that means Harland Clarke provides end-to-end product and service solutions for every stage of the customer life cycle—from acquisition and onboarding, to retention and growth.
The chronology below outlines the origins of many of Harland Clarke’s capabilities today. (See sidebar: Expanded Timeline.)
The company that eventually became Clarke American was founded in San Antonio, Texas, in 1874, while John H. Harland Co. got its start in 1923, in Atlanta. By the 1950s, both companies were pioneers in leading-edge MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) technology, created to enable computerized tracking of checking transactions. In the 1970s and 1980s, the companies significantly ramped up their check printing capacity, allowing them to better serve the increasingly consolidated and deregulated financial industry. Within 10 years, check printing capacity increased four fold. In the 1990’s, both companies were leaders in converting to digital printing and networked manufacturing. This provided efficiencies for shorter runs and flexible order routing, and it enabled a new capability—in-checkbook target marketing.
Harland Clarke now serves its combined client base with a foundational business model called Performance Excellence. In 1986, Clarke American introduced First in Service (TM) a total quality management initiative.
Although it began as a program, First in Service became an overall approach to quality—signifying the way Clarke American employees worked together to run and change their business through continual improvement. The quality journey continued throughout the 1990s as they embraced the Malcolm Baldridge criteria as their business model. A key milestone was achieved in 2001 when Clarke American received the Texas Award for Performance Excellence, a state-level Baldridgebased award. Later that year, Clarke American also received the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award to recognize its overall performance excellence. After receiving the award, Clarke American participated in many benchmarking and quality-sharing events to extend key learnings and best practices that might enable the quality journey advancement of other interested organizations.
Part of the Clarke American journey included several mergers and acquisitions that provided it with the capital, technology and scale to make it one of the top financial services providers in the country. Meanwhile, Harland continued to expand its product and service offerings in the early 1990s with the acquisition of the Rocky Mountain Bank Note Company and Interchecks, which brought to Harland enhanced forms solutions and direct mail capabilities, respectively.
Today, Harland Clarke’s Financial Forms solution is a leading provider of such services in the country, enabling financial institutions to boost operational efficiencies, streamline processes and minimize costs amid shrinking margins and an increasingly complex business environment. And Harland Clarke’s direct mail marketing services increase financial institutions’ return on marketing investment with full-service turnkey and customized direct marketing solutions, delivered with some of the highest levels of data quality and security available in the marketplace. Combined with the ability to create customized campaigns to target the right product to the right customer at the right time for large financial institutions—bolstered by Clarke American’s acquisition of direct marketing firm Alcott Routon in 2004—Harland Clarke provides a broad array of industry-leading marketing services to financial institutions, both small and large.
In the mid-1990s, Harland acquired a series of marketing, database and loan origination software and technology companies that formed under what is now Harland Clarke’s sister company, Harland Financial Solutions (HFS). With these capabilities, HFS became a one-stop product and service provider for the comprehensive technology solutions that financial institutions need—a trend that continued with 15 additional acquisitions from 2000 to 2006, which further enhanced Harland’s technology offerings.
In addition, Harland bought Intrieve, a software technology company that enabled it to offer a turnkey in-house check printing system. And with the purchase of Dataprint, Harland formed Harland Business Solutions to provide financial institutions with a one-step process for ordering business checks and forms that are compatible with all premier accounting software packages.
Harland’s largest acquisition was Liberty, which significantly increased its capacity to provide personalized customer service to credit unions of all sizes, as well as card solutions, educational services, mystery shopping and email marketing. Combined with Clarke American’s significant credit union base, Harland Clarke has a greater focus on the credit union industry than ever. In fact, this industry “segment focus” is part of Harland Clarke’s approach to the banking, credit union and securities segments.
Harland Clarke rounds out its offerings with Contact Center Services, which received a boost from an earlier Clarke American acquisition—Checks in the Mail. Contact Center Services helps financial institutions build strong relationships with their customers via the telephone, leveraging each inbound or outbound touchpoint as a key component of the customer retention strategy.
In Clarke American and Harland, history shows a dedication to quality business processes, continuous improvement and the bringing together of best-in-breed services and solutions to better serve financial institutions. In an industry where many mergers fail, both Clarke American and Harland have successfully acquired and integrated companies time and again.
Harland Clarke’s financial institution clients will likely find it to be a company that is much more than the sum of its parts; it is a leader in providing full-service financial solutions.