Daniel Office Products, The Woodlands, Texas

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As an independent in the highly competitive Houston metropolitan area, Daniel Office Products needs to stand out whenever possible. Located in The Woodlands, a planned community just north of the city, Bob Daniel, president and second-generation owner, contends that his small, highly experienced staff generally gets the better of its local competitors.

Flexibility is one of the keys to the success enjoyed by the dealership, says Daniel. Essentially no customer demand is too extreme. Recently when a long dark account was reacquired one of the reasons for its return was due to late deliveries by the previous supplier. “I told her we would deliver at whatever time she wanted,” said Bob. “Being able to show that extra value and attention really makes a difference.”

While business in Texas had been soft for the past few years due to the price of oil, it started to turn around about a year ago. And much of the uptick has come from the education market. “That has been a growth driver,” Daniel says. “There’s growth in the schools so this year has been much better.”
Daniel Office Products has exclusive business with two local school districts and both have been growing. “Between the two of them they opened three schools last year and another three schools this year,” says Bob. The dealership has also started to pick up business from a growing number of private schools.

“We’re really lucky in this particular area that it is vibrant economically,” says Bob. “The planned community was created north of Houston 45 years ago. It has really been a success!”

The Conroe Independent School District is one of the largest school districts in the state and opportunities are immense, says Daniel. At the same time, his dealership is far from being the only game in town. “Dealers in Houston realize this is a destination, so a lot of dealers have targeted the local school market here,” he reports.

The dealership is located in what was formerly a private residence that Bob’s father purchased more than 25 years ago. Owning the space helps cut down on operational costs, which enables the dealership to offer highly competitive pricing. Warehouse space is limited but a central location that enhances deliveries almost makes up for the lack of storage space. “We stock about 50 items, mostly office supplies and toner cartridges,” says Daniel.

As Daniel Office Products evolved over the past decade, the approach used by sales has been modified. “We used to do more cold calling; now everything we walk into is a sales appointment,” says Bob. Salespeople have adopted a consultative role and become more problems solvers in an effort to make the dealership stand out from its competition. “It’s our mission to be the premier supplier of business products to our customers by providing the utmost quality and care,” he adds.

One way that the dealership differentiates itself from its big box competitors is with a “Buy Local” emphasis. “We remind folks that we are part of the community and that we pay taxes here,” he says. Keeping dollars in the community supports the local economy, helps create jobs and keeps business vibrant.

Key management team members: Bob Daniel, president; Lou Ann Tiger, general manager
Products carried: Office Supplies, Computer Supplies, Furniture, School Supplies, Janitorial Supplies, Breakroom Supplies, Healthcare and Safety Supplies.
Year founded: 1978
Number of employees: 9
Key business partners: S.P. Richards, ECI
% of total sales generated online: 80%