The DIS Story: 40 Years of Great Ideas

The year was 1964, and Clifford "Don" Habel, Jr. had an idea. After years of working as a deputy clerk of court and for one of Billings' largest title companies, Don knew the risk that offices faced every day because of the danger of lost, damaged or destroyed paperwork. Everywhere around him, he saw paper building up, with no way to archive it. It was then that Microfilm Service of Montana was born.

An entrepreneur at heart, Don purchased a used microfilmer, loaded it into his VW bug and began making business calls. He would film documents on site during the day, then return to his home at night to process and develop the rolls, one at a time. His wife Marian, who worked a day job, did the company's books in the evening

By 1972, the business had grown to the point that the first full-time employee came on board. Three years later, the Habels' daughter Linda, who later became vice president and general manager, joined him and worked part time as she completed her college degree.

By 1977, business was booming. Microfilm Service of Montana had grown to become not only a service provider, but also a hardware and supplies distributor for micrographic giant Eastman Kodak. Don and Marian decided to purchase a former floral shop on Broadwater Avenue, a building that was then surrounded by small homes, and began renovation. They also expanded the service bureau by purchasing a computerized system that allowed for the creation of microfiche.

Knowing that the company would continue to grow, Don and Marian bought surrounding homes as they came up for sale and expanded the company's facilities. By 1983, their son Gary-who would go on to become the company's president--had joined the firm, working part-time as a sales representative as he completed his degree in business and computer science. In 1992, the company bought its first commercial scanning and computer system, and soon thereafter began doing business as Data Imaging Systems to reflect their new service offerings.

The company has continued to expand to meet the needs of their existing and potential customers, including adding a secure shredding facility, server storage and a full-service information and networking technology division staffed with experienced IT professionals. DIS now offers services in Montana and other surrounding states and, thanks to technological advances, it is poised to begin offering its services nationwide.

Over 40 years after it was founded, Don remains the CEO of Data Imaging Systems and continues to be a force in moving the business forward. Day-to-day operations are handled by Linda and Gary, who not only inherited their father's foresight, but also his and Marian's dedication to hard work and exceptional customer service.

And rest assured, they are always on the lookout for the next great idea.
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