Modus Media claims to be "the global leader in the provision of outsourced supply chain management services for high technology industries". Huh? Just what does that mean?
"We're in the print and software replication business," explained Jerry Ryan, managing director of Modus Media International in Australia.
Its customers include Compaq, IBM, Microsoft, Digital, Hewlett-Packard and Sun, and it is looking for more from the ranks of Australian high technology companies.
If you have ever taken delivery of an outer carton from one of those companies, opened it and started stacking all the shrink-wrapped boxes inside, the chances are it was shipped by Modus Media.
The company has built its Australian operations into a $35 million business in just three years from its base in the inner Sydney suburb of Alexandria.
For most major vendors, Modus Media is one of two or more companies that are used to outsource the production of manuals and software based on floppy disks - Modus Media does not handle CD-ROM duplication in Australia, yet.
For Microsoft's education products, Modus Media is the exclusive producer.
These days printing manuals and software documentation for computer companies means more than small, high-speed offset printing machines. It means highly flexible digital printing technology. Xerox and IBM supply these.
The IBM InfoPrint 4000 system recently installed by Modus Media output at the rate of more than 450 A4 pages a minute. It is based on an IBM RS/6000 computer. Both the IBM and Xerox systems allow a user manual, for example, to be produced for a particular configuration of a computer on the fly.
The key to Modus Media's success is keeping the supply line between itself and its customers and the customers of its customers as short as possible.
"We don't produce anything until the last possible moment," Ryan explained. "That way we never have any outdated stock and the customer gets the most up-to-date version of the software."
Originally part of RR Donelly & Sons, one of the world's largest printing companies, Modus Media now operates as a separate entity from its parent company - that still has majority ownership of the company.