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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
NAPO Expo 2011 Recap (Part 2): The Good Goliaths--Pendaflex & Smead

Last week, we teased with some of the prettier ventures on display at the NAPO 2011 expo. Now, before I can even mention the sprightly upstarts in the David vs. Goliath field of paper management, I must deal with the heart and soul of the paper world. And foremost, that means talking about two equally wonderful elephants in the room.

Last year, I quoted from the musical Chess to make the point. For a professional organizer, especially one who blogs about paper, striking the balance in writing about Smead and Pendaflex so as not to show favoritism is like parenting twins. They're similar in many ways, and yet intrinsically different, and require love, discipline and approbation in varying proportions. When they launch disparate products, it's easier; when they compete head-to- head, it's Sophie's Choice.

A coin flip has determined the order of today's product reviews.

Pendaflex's big reveal this year was the Divide-It-Up multi-section file folder. If one looks at the Divide-It-Up as if it were still within a hanging folder, there are three side-by-side 2.25" wide label tabs that sit below the 1/2 cut (5.5") left/right tabbing, on what could be considered the outside front wall of each "pocket". The letter-sized folders, whose outer dimensions match traditional folders and thus can be filed normally, allow users to subdivide materials into three separate pockets.

Sub-divide, label and access just what you need without flipping through items of different sizes, and because the pockets are closed not only on the folded filing bottom but also on one end (i.e., the right edge, once filed), there's less worry papers will escape. The lowest pocket measures 4.5" deep, making it ideal for handling receipts, boarding passes, parking garage tickets and other small items without them disappearing amid larger papers.

Paper Doll wanted to explain the physics of how the three interior pockets came to be, but my spatial orientation skills were no match for the folding frolics Pendaflex put in place, and I admit I had to thoroughly dismantle the sample version to figure out that basically, Pendaflex has cut the outline of two file folders, one a mirror image of the other. Then, they made sneaky slices and folded it all back together, affixing a tiny tabbed portion of what, unfolded, would be the bottom of the whole production, to the inside back of the folder, to create an origami-ed folder that can hold up to 75 sheets of paper. The folders come in packages of 12 or 24.

The main drawback of the Divide-It-Up is the paper selection -- 11 pt or "standard weight" stock. Paper Doll is a fan of heavy-duty file folders, and this folder, while not really flimsy, is of a thinner, lighter variety than I'd like. My sample copy did not make it home from the conference, via Delta's loving baggage processing, without gaining some tears at the edges.

Pendaflex didn't launch a lot of entirely new products this year at the expo, instead choosing to refine extensions of other product lines. For example, we've previously discussed the Pendaflex SureHook hanging folder. This year, I got a closer look at two newer varieties in that line.

First, there's the SureHook Hanging Box Files, with reinforced sides and box-bottoms. They have the same sturdy, non-bowing rods with built-in tension springs and longer (plastic) hooks (for smooth sliding on hanging rails) as the standard SureHook hanging folders. The poly-laminate sides and rod coverings are reinforced to strengthen and increase holding capacity, and with each folder a pressboard strip is included to reinforce the 2" capacity box-bottom.

I particularly like that the side reinforcements run only two thirds of the way up the folder, allowing the top third of the front or back of the folders to pull down or "flop" over when not actually hanging, making it even easier to access the interior folders or documents.

The SureHook Hanging Box Files, also known as Extra Capacity Hanging Folders, come in two styles, with either traditional plastic tab labeling or snap-in-place Ready-Tab® labeling. These are available in assorted colors (blue, yellow, orange, red and green) or traditional olive green, usually packaged twenty to a box.

Pendaflex also showed off the SureHook Hanging Folders with Dividers. (Dividing is big this year, apparently! "Divide and conquer," anyone?). These have the same poly-laminate reinforced rod coverings, tension-spring rods and longer, plastic smooth-sliding rail hooks, but the sides are open, as with traditional hanging folders. However, in order to help users separate project papers into categories within the same hanging folder, Pendaflex has added interior dividers.

The bottom of the expandable-to-2" frame is accordion-style, and reinforced with a rip-proof tape gusset. One or two (depending on the option selected) stiff, built-in kraft pressboard dividers are glued into the center accordion fold. The inserts have durable, coated, flexible fasteners, one on each face of the dividers, for attaching papers securely (as one often sees with medical paperwork).

Given that users generally place hanging folders in cabinets with the brand name stamp or logo facing the rear, I must admit to being vaguely puzzled by the placement of the fasteners on the right side of the divider, which becomes the bottom of the page when the folder is accessed and read "book style", at least when read by right-handed filers.

The SureHook Hanging Folders With Dividers come with one or two divider pages, in letter or legal sizing, and are packaged 10 to a box, in olive green only.

Smead's big tag line this year is "Think Differently", and aside from earning Paper Doll Bonus Points for using the proper adverbial form, they captured my attention with a variety of new products and brand extensions, all with a focus on presentation style through design.

First, and this could certainly have fit with last week's theme, Smead developed a line of Fashion File Folders. 1/3 cut and letter size, these folders might be like any other, except for the va-va-voom styling on heavier, more durable paper stock and a satin finish. Each set includes three separate patterns, with two of each design included in every set, as well as six self-adhesive labels. The folder wardrobes come in multiple themes including Circles (red, green and purple),

Vines & Flowers (orange, teal and lime),

Birds -- but not angry ones -- (mustard, orange and blue)

and the Professional Collection (black and khaki).

My sole complaint is that although Smead recognizes that many of us would prefer something more exciting that vanilla manila or the typical "assorted" colors (and even assorted neons or pastels), many filers want aesthetic appeal in bulk quantities. Even if the big box office supply stores might not be inclined to give up shelf space, I think many of us would prefer to buy a box of 100 Birds or Vines & Flowers rather than having to make do with six at a time.

Last year (click and scroll down, slightly) I made a big deal of Smead's Easy Grip File Pockets. I still love them and their ability to make light work for those of us with wimpy wrists and heavy files, so much so that the Smead reps at the NAPO expo asked me to make this video to share my reasoning:

Since last year, Smead has expanded the Easy Grip line from the plain redrope, open top letter and legal sizes in 1 3/4", 3 1/2", or 5 1/4" expansion widths to include variations on a theme. You can still get the patented Easy Grip surface with Tyvek-reinforced gussets to keep the sides from wearing out, but now filers can get a little more fashionable with File Drawer Pockets with Easy Grip in red, blue or green (and, sigh...redrope), but the gussets extend to the full height of the folders to prevent the sides from catching on the hanging rails as one lifts the folders out of filing cabinets. Pretty (well, prettier) and functional, too.

For those of you who want to feel extra-secure when toting those heavy files around courthouses, hospitals and office buildings, Smead now has Secure Pockets with Easy Grip. They're almost exactly like the regular Easy Grip file pockets, but they have elastic straps to prevent documents from falling out. The straps can be conveniently positioned underneath or to the side for easy filing and then pulled up, suspender-style, to prevent papers from making a run for it.

Smead's big push this year was the importance of presentation, but there were simply too many presentation folders, from "Poly Report Covers" to "Frame View Poly Report Covers with Fastener Closure or Swing Clip", to fit into one post. And Pendaflex really upped their game with "Custom Gate Folios" and "Tri-Fold Pocket Folders", too.

Indeed, there were so many presentation products in the vanguard from both of these stars that they deserve a full Paper Doll review of their own. And readers have asked for updated, feature-by-feature comparisons of Pendaflex's SureHook and Smead's TUFF Hanging Folders, and of Smead's Easy Slide Tabs and Pendaflex's ReadyTabs. There comes a time when one must let kids compete head-to-head. (Perhaps I'll ask the parents of Serena and Venus Williams for some advice before penning such posts.)

I'm open to reader suggestions as to what we might call such a series. Organize-Off just sounds wrong, Tidy-Off seems like a cleaning product, and Declutter-Off sounds like a count in a tale told by a 19th century Russian novelist. ("Dostoyevsky and Paper Doll present the Declutter-Off!" Yes? No?) Expect to see this feature in coming months, whatever it is named.

Now that we've covered the Goliaths, next week we'll sink our reviewing teeth into the fascinating products of the NAPO 2011 expo's up-and-comers, the Davids, of the organizing world.

posted on: 4/26/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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