Finder's Keeper Company in Des Peres Turns Paper Documents into Computer Images

Article excerpt

Despite a couple of decades of automation, 95 percent of all documents still reside on paper and not on a computer hard drive.

Witness, then, a continuing business opportunity.

I. Levy & Associates, a little Des Peres firm founded 20 years ago in Irving Levy's spare bedroom, is busy transforming land records, legal papers and stock certificates from paper into electrons.

The company develops software for computer imaging of documents. Dozens of states use its software to track disability claims, viewing documents as computer images rather than pieces of paper.

In Illinois, environmental officials examine records on underground storage tanks via computer.

Ryback Management, which runs the Clayton-based Lindner mutual funds, retrieves customer records with Levy's software.

Typically a customer scans paper documents, creating computer files that when displayed, precisely reproduce the original.

Levy's imaging software does more than slavishly reproduce a document on a computer screen.

With structured query language (SQL), the computer language used to search databases, documents can be searched, sorted and ranked.

A law firm, for example, might have 250,000 pages of legal documents identified only by plaintiff and defendant. With SQL, the firm can rapidly produce every page containing the word "automobile," or find every instance in which a witness named "Smith" testified.

Irving Levy said his customers need to keep - paper records, but they don't want to use them.

"A brokerage house may hold onto a customer's stock certificates," Levy said. "But if they want to check them for something, they don't want to take the certificates out of the vault."

Stifel Nicolaus, the St. Louis brokerage, bought Levy's technology - Navigator 2000 is his main product - so it could end the need to retrieve and print records from microfilm.

Stifel processes 2,000 new accounts a month, and it wanted to provide auditors and others instant access to documents, without having to physically retrieve them. …


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