A Giant Among Us

If you’re carrying a Pet Perks key tag on your key chain or an Aspen Health Club membership card in your wallet right now, then you’re carrying an SSI Technologies product. Tucked inside Edmond’s city limits, nestled among trees between Target and the new UCO dorms, sits a state-of-the-art manufacturing giant.

SSI was formed 40 years ago by Ron Goade, salesman turned manufacturer. The company manufactures national gift and loyalty cards, international identification and registration cards, as well as direct mailers. As CEO and President, Goade moved the headquarters from Oklahoma City to Edmond in 1993 because of the central location.

With just 75 employees, SSI provides their products to local companies as well as those on the East and West coast and in the Midwest. “We work predominantly with businesses,” says Steve Wolfe, Director of Sales. “You can’t come in as an individual and get a gift card from us. We print for businesses like 7-Eleven, Men’s Warehouse, Gold’s Gym, Aspen Health
Club and even international businesses in countries like Poland and Sweden.”

With a strong international presence, they’ve developed and produced National Identification credentials for Russia, Latvia, Australia, Iran, Croatia, and South Africa as well as the first voter registration card for Mexico, which was 55 million pieces. “It was a joint venture with Polaroid at the time because, of course, a person’s picture had to be on it. The project was a massive undertaking,” Wolfe said.

Very few people know how much influence Goade has had on the industry’s developments and patents. He pioneered the magnetic stripe and barcode technologies for plastic card applications. He also developed the black bar security stripe, concealing the barcode which allows only infrared scan. Goade even developed the first electronic photo
identification camera.

SSI uses mostly Teslin to make their cards. It is a non-toxic, synthetic material that is silica-based and environmentally friendly with no ozone-depleting constituents and more durable than PVC. “We print, laminate, encode, die-cut, put a mag stripe on it, ship it – we do it all right here,” Wolfe said. SSI was the first to produce a Teslin-based plastic card in the industry, and then the first to produce the card with
variable information.

Their 40 years of experience and technological innovation has created many of the procedures for imaging, scanning and encoding presently used by most plastic card producers today.

Although Edmond is considered a smaller market, SSI has proven to be strong competition. According to Wolfe, “We have some great competitors in this business, both here and across the country, but if you’re looking for a Teslin product, the state of Oklahoma is where you’re going to find it.”

Like most businesses, SSI does most of its sales during the holiday and gift-giving seasons. However, with a lull in the economy and the impending end of the holiday season, they have incorporated direct mailing into their portfolio to segue into their year-round sales.

“Even though we are in a semi-recessed economy, we’re excited about the print side of our business,” said Wolfe. “We recognize companies need to get their name out there and we are happy provide that for them. I believe loyalty programs are as critical as they’ve ever been.”

Valentine’s Day is a great post-Christmas time for the company as jewelry retailers and companies like FTD utilize their direct mailing products to drive traffic to their stores. “We’ve taken what we know about gift and loyalty cards and incorporated that into direct mail,” said Wolfe. “The direct mail piece we send out is a laminated paper card that has a gift card or loyalty card embedded in the piece that you can snap off and use as such. Ultimately, it’s a great way to deliver a gift card or loyalty card as it’s much more likely to be read than traditional incentive mail.”

SSI Technologies has contributed greatly to the growth of their industry. They have found innovative ways to make their Edmond presence span international waters. “We’re proud of the last 40 years and excited about the future,” said Wolfe.

For more information about SSI Technology visit their website at www.ssicards.com.

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