Business started close to 30 years ago for Current Office Solutions in Bryan, Ohio, when the dealership started to sell office machines. Not long after that supplies were added to the offering. Current is located in a rural area in the northwest corner of Ohio and serves primarily rural customers.
The area covers about 100 square miles and takes the dealership across state lines into Indiana and Michigan. “We don’t go into the larger cities,” says Derek Allen, chief financial officer. “We don’t go into Toledo, which is an hour east of us, and we don’t go into Fort Wayne, which is an hour to the west. We kind of stay in rural areas.”
The market might be rural Ohio, but there is no lack of customers. There are many local businesses in this environment, including manufacturing plants, banks, hospitals, schools and small businesses. When current customers move into a local city, Current will follow. “We will go in just for specific customers, but we don’t necessarily market in bigger cities, where everything is a bit more cutthroat,” says sales representative Amanda Brown. “We just tend to our local rural businesses.”
While the dealership started out selling office machines and still concentrates on machine sales today, supplies was a natural extension and the offer now includes furniture and janitorial items. The dealership has retail stores in Bryan, Ohio and Hillsdale, Michigan, but commercial sales is by far the greatest part of the business. “Retail helps when customers can come in and pick stuff up, or if they need something the same day,” says Allen.
Brown suggests that because Current is a smaller dealer, it has greater flexibility. “When customers call in they get to talk to their rep and don’t go through a call center,” says Brown. “Customers have our cell phone numbers and they can text us or call us.” When there is that sort of familiarity, service becomes more personal.
As an example, Current is finding more customers for what it calls its “vendor managed supplies” program, in which it goes to customers’ locations and manages their supplies inventory. “They want so many pens, so many cases of paper and so many binder clips, and we take care of that for them,” says Allen. While this type of service had more or less gone out of practice over the past couple of decades, it has started to come back. “Customers want a more hands-off approach and they want to be taken care of,” he adds.
Allen says that Current is on a growth trend but attributes success to the services that are offered. “We provide a service rather than just sell products,” says Alan. “In our smaller areas, buying local and supporting local is huge.” The dealership is also committed to service to the broader community and almost everyone supports community projects in one way or another.
For some customers it’s the reporting that Current offers that cements their loyalty. “We make it easier for them to balance their books with the reports we run for them and they just love it. They would never consider ordering on Amazon because they appreciate the local connection,” says Allen.
As the dealership moves into 2020, equipment sales remains a top priority. That effort typically involves finding new customers and Current’s primary equipment vendor, Lanier, has helped by expanding sales territories. New equipment customers sooner or later become supply customers as well. “Once we go in there and deliver toner for that machine and service it, supply sales are a natural extension,” adds Allen.
Key management team members: Terry Rummel (Owner/CEO), Nicki Cogswell (COO), Derek Allen (CFO), Amanda Brown (sales)
Products carried: Office equipment, office supplies/janitorial, furniture, custom printing
Year founded: 1991
Annual sales: $6 Million
No. of Employees: 33
Key business partners: Ricoh, S. P. Richards, SSI
% of sales generated online: 47.5%